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Hash Algorithm and Secure Hash Algorithm
Pages 12 (3012 words)
A hash function is a reproducible method of turning some kind of data into a (relatively) small number that may serve as a digital "fingerprint" of the data. The algorithm "chops and mixes" (i.e., substitutes or transposes) the data to create such fingerprints.
"Hash functions are designed to be fast and to yield few hash collisions in expected input domains. In hash tables and data processing, collisions inhibit the distinguishing of data, making records more costly to find.
A fundamental property of all hash functions is that if two hashes (according to the same function) are different, then the two inputs are different in some way. This property is a consequence of hash functions being deterministic. On the other hand, a function is not injective, i.e., the equality of two hash values ideally strongly suggests, but does not guarantee, the equality of the two inputs. If a hash value is calculated for a piece of data, and then one bit of that data is changed, a hash function with a strong mixing property usually produces a completely different hash value.
Typical hash functions have an infinite domain, such as byte strings of arbitrary length, and a finite range, such as bit sequences of some fixed length. In certain cases, hash functions can be designed with one-to-one mapping between identically sized domain and range. Hash functions that are one-to-one are also called permutations. Reversibility is achieved by using a series of reversible "mixing" operations on the function input."2
""Because of the variety of applications for hash functions (details below), they are often tailored to the application. ...
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