Weekend Reading: Terminals, Cryptography, and Products as Functions
Pieces like this often come off like geeks calling for a return to how it “used to be” — “HyperCard was the peak of dev tools”. But this author makes some excellent points about performance, responsiveness, and control. As a frequent terminal user, there’s a tactility to it that comes from its fast response to input, but it is true that consoles have lagged behind in other ways like media richness and user interface display.
Quantum computers promise to upend a lot of this. Because of the way they work, they excel at the sorts of computations necessary to reverse these one-way functions. For symmetric cryptography, this isn’t too bad. Grover’s algorithm shows that a quantum computer speeds up these attacks to effectively halve the key length. This would mean that a 256-bit key is as strong against a quantum computer as a 128-bit key is against a conventional computer; both are secure for the foreseeable future.
For public-key cryptography, the results are more dire. Shor’s algorithm can easily break all of the commonly used public-key algorithms based on both factoring and the discrete logarithm problem. Doubling the key length increases the difficulty to break by a factor of eight. That’s not enough of a sustainable edge.
Ryan Singer on the concept of products behaving like mathematical functions; they sit between an input and output, processing one into the other. Having known input and known desired output serves as a mental aid to “solve for”
f(x) in the middle.