[Cryptography] ideas for (long) Nothing up my sleeve numbers

Sampo Syreeni decoy at iki.fi
Tue Apr 1 21:02:26 EDT 2014

On 2014-04-01, Albert Lunde wrote:

> In this kind of construction, the "something up my sleeve" may appear 
> to be how you picked the starting point and other details.

That is why I put in Elias's omega code, because to my knowledge it's 
the first optimal construction of a universal code Levenstein's, and it 
always starts from one, so that you can't repeatedly extract zero bits 
and by that way get around the idea that you shouldn't be able to 
precisely choose where you start your extraction.

Second, since the set of extant cryptographers is disributed and 
ostensibly a novel algorithm needing low-sleeveness numbers might even 
come from outside the known mainstream, I can't think of any lower 
complexity protocol which just lets you extract arbitrary amounts of 
nice bits from a commonly trusted source, than this one, combined with 
some kind of plausible enough notarization to establish precedence in 
case of dispute over who owns the currently-considered-to-be-spent-bits.

And third, the whole point is that you don't get to choose the length of 
the extraction and the bits extracted separately. They come as an 
integral whole. If you want to have a certain number (which in a good 
primitive means you have as many bits of evil design freedom), that'll 
translate to as long a linear search starting from the current status 
quo as there are values in the total range your extracted number might 
eventually have. After that, we're also using a reasonably efficient 
coding, at least asymptotically speaking: the omega code is pretty well 
distributed for this sort of thing, and if you consider the possibility 
of overlap, without formal proof I'd assert that the overlap more or 
less asymptotically compensates for the efficiency loss of prepending a 
length prefix in the first place.

Of course, the computational complexity of finding any reasonable amount 
of low-sleeveness bits isn't the real issue here, even if it might help 
disincentivize a naive crypto designer from building an optimization 
farm for the purpose. The real point is that the construction forces -- 
I hope, fingers crossed -- the search for any specific bit string to 
take on roughly the same cost as either just taking the next n bits 
without having choice in what n is, or alternatively to find some 
deterministic structure in the binary development which is 
subexponential in sequence length, and thus proving pi not to be normal.

Or if my intuition is broken here, then maybe the basic reasoning helps 
some real cryptographer strengthen the construction to something you can 
actually prove something nasty about; as far as the original question 
goes, it's a win any which way.

> Also note there are algorithms to compute the Nth digit of pi in 
> various bases without computing the previous digits, so there is no 
> particular reason to stick with digits in published literature.

Those are precisely the spigot algorithms I mentioned. The requirement 
that you start with something which wasn't already spent comes from two 
reasons. First, obviously if you want your number to be low-sleeveness 
and you have to ask about it on-list, typically you'd want it to be 
something which wasn't already utilized and analyzed to death. For 
instance, the community might have noticed that despite the conjectured 
semi-randomness of the first bits of pi, statistical fluctuation still 
made them fall too far in the tail of the distribution to satisfy the 
finite, truncated probability assumptions you sometimes have to make in 
order to make your cryptosystem secure.

And second, you really do have to get to choose the number of bits you 
use for your constants. That is something we can't easily stop, and so 
it represents a degree of possible gaming, leading to sleeveness. We can 
just hope it's somehow evident from the proposed structure that no bits 
extracted were lost in the process (i.e. all of them behave much like 
ideal key bits in the proposed construction, or we even have some sort 
of objective, future proof of how many bits you need for any future 
circuit). But what we really, *really* don't want anybody to have is a 
second, independent optimand they can freely choose, because that'd at 
the very least lead to birthday sort of sleeveness in the hands of a 
rationally malevolent designer. Thus, make them fix at least the 
starting point of the search at the status quo -- which is required in 
any case if we need new, non-overlapping constants -- and then tie the 
length and the actual bits found irrevocably together.

> But I'd argue you might as well start at the first non-zero binary 
> digit of pi, and reduce the degrees of freedom in the choice.

That doesn't take care of the length selection problem. What my 
construction does is it forces each length to start at a different 
offset as well, so that you can't easily take advantage of series 
equivalences and the like to give structure to your bits, even after 
there's been a while since the last cryptographer used the construction 
to extract anything. And of course precedence in publication serves as a 
natural, already necessary, external source of randomness to the 
process: if you wait, running your ostensibly exponential optimization 
algorithms to do your evil deed, as soon as somebody else publishes 
something using the construction, you're forced to start again, on pain 
of considered having something up your sleeve if you don't.
Sampo Syreeni, aka decoy - decoy at iki.fi, http://decoy.iki.fi/front
+358-40-3255353, 025E D175 ABE5 027C 9494 EEB0 E090 8BA9 0509 85C2

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