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June 02, 2012, 07:40:51 PM


I recommend asking me for a signature from my GPG key before doing a trade. I will NEVER deny such a request.
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Meni Rosenfeld
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June 02, 2012, 08:23:25 PM

The most well-known PKC algorithm is RSA; the basic idea is moderately simple and you can read about it in the linked Wikipedia article, but you need to understand a bit of number theory, starting with modular arithmetic (if you don't, that should be your first step). There's also a numeric example.

If the secret prime numbers are p and q and their public product is n=pq, then to encrypt a message you take its representation as an integer and raise it to some power, modulo n. Anyone can do that, but most can't take a power and figure out what the base was. The recipient who knows p and q can find the totient phi(n) = (p-1)(q-1) and with some number theory magic use it to invert the power operation.

Cryptology is a word not used very often and usually only by crypto pros.
And for those who use it, it's not synonymous with cryptography; rather, they use cryptography to refer to developing and using cryptographic techniques, cryptanalysis to breaking them, and cryptology to both.

(is cryptology a word?)
Edit: a little offtopic... does PKC prove, or at least rely on, P!=NP?
If P=NP then there's a polynomial-time algorithm to break PKC. Whether this has practical relevance is not clear; if the best polynomial has order 20, then it's still impossible.

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