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Re: Evolving algorithm for faster brute force key searches?

At 8:01 PM 7/5/96, jack wrote:
>I got an idea last night, maybe this has already been thought of and
>tried, but I thought I would give a quick outline of the program I was
>thinking of:
>-Specify a maximum key size (assume 1024bits or something)
>-Start with an arbitrary key "aaaaaaaaaaaaaa"
>Start a loop
>-create five mutations of the key
>-use each key to try and decrypt a few bytes of the message
>-run a (or some) statistical analysis tests and come up with a value
>for how 'random' the decrypted bits are
>-Pick the key that produced the least random ouput

Schneier actually used my explanation of why this won't work in the Second
Edition of his book.

Basically, with any strong. modern cipher, there is no concept of "getting
closer" to a solution. Thus, the "fitness landscape" for a
brute-force-needed cipher looks like a flat plain (if portrayed in two
dimensions), with the solution/key being a single-point spike rising from
the plain. No hill-climber can find this spike except by landing right on
it, which means evolutionary programming, genetic algorithms, simulated
annealing, and neural net sorts of approaches are worthless.

With some weak ciphers, this might work. I think Schneier makes some
comments about who's looked at this. But weak ciphers are not too

--Tim May

We got computers, we're tapping phone lines, I know that that ain't allowed.
Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
[email protected]  408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
W.A.S.T.E.: Corralitos, CA  | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Higher Power: 2^1,257,787-1 | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders aren't even speed bumps on the information superhighway."