The need for security in electronic communications is crucial in todays world. The foundation for providing this security rests on mathematics. In particular, a certain kind of mathematical function called a "hash function" is central in the design of cryptographic systems that protect electronic communications. But recently the most secure hash function in use today was shown to be vulnerable to attack. An article in the upcoming issue of the Notices of the AMS describes these attacks and sends out a call for a new mathematical theory to undergird future communications security systems.
A hash function is an easy-to-compute compression function that takes as input any string of computer bits and distills that string down to a fixed-length output string: Whether the input is an 8-character password or a 100-page document, the hash function outputs a string of a fixed length. An important feature of hash functions is that they must be hard---or at least computationally too expensive---to invert. So, for example, it should be hard, given the hash of a password, to recover the password itself.
One researcher calls hash functions the "duct tape" of cryptography because they are used everywhere for many different purposes: to authenticate messages, to ascertain software integrity, to create one-time passwords, and to support Internet communication protocols. The very ubiquity of hash functions makes any vulnerability found in them a widespread concern.
Dr. Susan Landau | EurekAlert!
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21.10.2016 | Stanford University
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19.10.2016 | University of Waterloo
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
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In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
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'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
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