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Douglas_Knight comments on Worse Than Random - Less Wrong

25 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 11 November 2008 07:01PM

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Comment author: Douglas_Knight 14 November 2009 03:38:03AM 3 points [-]

If you get different results from the hash than from randomness, you've broken the hash.

That was my first impression too. But... isn't a hash considered to be cryptographically broken if you have a process that finds any collisions at all? Distinguishing based on the frequency of collisions (if that frequency is high enough to measure) is superfluous.

Yes, if you have few enough agents / work-flow that you're in P, then it is extremely unlikely that there will be absolute collisions, whether collisions of random numbers or hash values. But that chance is the same. You can break a hash through dumb luck! If you have lots of agents, then cryptographic security of the hash doesn't apply.

But we're not talking about absolute collisions of hashes of id numbers. In talking about hashes, the assumption is that the space of id numbers and hash values are big and the space of problems we're working on is not larger. When we truncate the hash values to get work items, that's when we get collisions, at exactly the same rate as if it were random.