Nothing up my sleeve number

Nothing Up My Sleeve Number

Nothing up my sleeve number

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In cryptography, nothing up my sleeve numbers are any numbers which, by their construction, are above suspicion of hidden properties. They are used in creating cryptographic functions such as hashes and ciphers. These algorithms often need randomized constants for mixing or initialization purposes. The cryptographer may wish to pick these values in a way that demonstrates the constants were not selected for (in Bruce Schneier's words) a "nefarious purpose", for example, to create a "backdoor" to the algorithm. These fears can be allayed by using numbers created in a way that leaves little room for adjustment. An example would be the use of initial digits from the number π as the constants. Using digits of π millions of places into its definition would not be considered as trustworthy. The algorithm designer might have selected that starting point because it created a secret weakness the designer could later exploit.

Digits in the positional representation of real numbers such as π, e and irrational roots are believed to appear random. See normal number. Such numbers can be viewed as the opposite extreme of Chaitin–Kolmogorov random numbers in that they appear random but have very low information entropy. Their use is motivated by early controversy over the U.S. Government's 1975 Data Encryption Standard, which came under criticism because no explanation was supplied for the constants used in...
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