A Simple Introduction to One-Way Functions

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This is the first article of the series that I have planned to write explaining the Cryptography behind Blockchain.

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In this article, I will be covering One-Way Functions.

To understand the need for one-way functions, let me first help you understand Two-Way functions.

Two-Way Functions

Let us assume that we have a function f(x)=y. Whenever we give input as “x”, we get an output “y”.

Now let us look at the following table:

If we observe the above Input and Output values, by close observation we find that output is always the square of the input, i.e y=x*x. Or f(x)=x*x.

Now, let us say that the function generates an output as “121”. Since I know the function, I can easily tell that the input would have been “11”. Functions wherein we can determine the input with the help of its output are known as Two-way functions.

As much as we have enjoyed cracking this function we should realize that if we incorporate them in the Systems or Application Design, any hacker can crack open the application with a simple brute force attack.

This particular vulnerability of Two-way functions led to the adoption of One-way functions.

One-Way Functions

Let us consider the SHA256 of the following numbers.

SHA256(1) = 6B86B273FF34FCE19D6B804EFF5A3F5747ADA4EAA22F1D49C01E52DDB7875B4B

SHA256(2) = D4735E3A265E16EEE03F59718B9B5D03019C07D8B6C51F90DA3A666EEC13AB35

SHA256(3) = 4E07408562BEDB8B60CE05C1DECFE3AD16B72230967DE01F640B7E4729B49FCE

If you observe the above three outputs, they do not follow a pattern. Thus, there is no way we can identify the input of the function. When these functions are used in applications, it is not an easy task for a hacker to penetrate into the application. Such functions are known as One-Way Functions.

In the upcoming articles of this series, I will be explaining Hashing Algorithms and how they are incorporated in Blockchain Design. Stay tuned for the updates! Thank you for reading my article.

If you have any questions, please feel free to send me an email. You can also contact me via Linkedin.


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