Making a hash of it

The Economist recently ran an article titled Making a hash of it. Neither the article nor the actual story is news, of course. What surprised and impressed me was the relative depth of the coverage of the subject, which is very rare in the mainstream media.

It's true that The Economist oversimplified what hashing functions do and understated how difficult it is to find collisions. Still, for people who don't program, writing a program to find a one-in-one-thousand collision is no more or less baffling than finding a one-in-one-hojillion collision. So, even if such simplifications make more technically astute readers cringe, the simplifications were necessary for the majority of its readership.

For those for whom simplified discussion of hash collisions is too esoteric, I offer you instead this link to a story about the rights of poop-eating worms.

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