May 17, 2016

"Two University of Texas academics have made what some experts believe is a breakthrough in random number generation that could have longstanding implications for cryptography and computer security."

threat post: David Zuckerman, a computer science professor, and Eshan Chattopadhyay, a graduate student, published a paper in March that will be presented in June at the Symposium on Theory of Computing. by Michael Mimoso

'The paper describes how the academics devised a method for the generation of high quality random numbers. The work is theoretical, but Zuckerman said down the road it could lead to a number of practical advances in cryptography, scientific polling, and the study of other complex environments such as the climate.

'We show that if you have two low-quality random sources—lower quality sources are much easier to come by—two sources that are independent and have no correlations between them, you can combine them in a way to produce a high-quality random number,” Zuckerman said. “People have been trying to do this for quite some time. Previous methods required the low-quality sources to be not that low, but more moderately high quality. “We improved it dramatically,” Zuckerman said.

'The technical details are described in the academics’ paper “Explicit Two-Source Extractors and Resilient Functions.” The academics’ introduction of resilient functions into their new algorithm built on numerous previous works to arrive at landmark moment in theoretical computer science. Already, one other leading designer of randomness extractors, Xin Li, has built on their work to create sequences of many more random numbers. “You expect to see advances in steps, usually several intermediate phases,” Zuckerman said. “We sort of made several advances at once. That’s why people are excited.”'

"Explicit Two-Source Extractors and Resilient Functions" plus revisions by Eshan Chattopadhyay and David Zuckerman here

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