New King of Security Algorithms Crowned

A five-year hunt for a new cryptographic hash scheme leads to the discovery that the old one was really good

3 min read
New King of Security Algorithms Crowned
Illustration: Henrik Jonsson/iStockphoto

A new cryptographic hash algorithm, proclaimed the winner of a five-year competition in October, is literally a solution in search of a problem.


Basically, cryptographic hash algorithms are a way to ensure information security. They are typically used in digital signatures and in establishing connections with secure websites. Data that is run through a hash algorithm produces a shorter string of bits; this string acts as a kind of digest of the data. Any change to the data changes the bit string. The resulting string, therefore, acts as a fingerprint of the data, guaranteeing that no one has tampered with it. 


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The Future of Deep Learning Is Photonic

Computing with light could slash the energy needs of neural networks

10 min read

This computer rendering depicts the pattern on a photonic chip that the author and his colleagues have devised for performing neural-network calculations using light.

Alexander Sludds
DarkBlue1

Think of the many tasks to which computers are being applied that in the not-so-distant past required human intuition. Computers routinely identify objects in images, transcribe speech, translate between languages, diagnose medical conditions, play complex games, and drive cars.

The technique that has empowered these stunning developments is called deep learning, a term that refers to mathematical models known as artificial neural networks. Deep learning is a subfield of machine learning, a branch of computer science based on fitting complex models to data.

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