The quest for true randomness and uncrackable codes

May 22, 2014 by Senne Starckx
The quest for true randomness and uncrackable codes

Quantum cryptography is said to be uncrackable. It will stay safe, but only if true randomness, the generation and use of intrinsically random numbers, can be achieved.

Each time we read our e-mail, login to online shopping sites, watch a movie online or use our mobile phone, we are using random numbers to establish a secure connection. Randomness is a crucial ingredient in practically every area of . And, most importantly, in cryptography. But because all conventional computing processes are based on , looking for true randomness is like searching for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. This explains why even the most sophisticated present-day encryption systems can fall prey to hackers.

Enter quantum computing. Incorporating the inherent random nature of the quantum world in a computer yields a revolutionary new way of producing true random numbers. Thanks to this, real uncrackable codes are in sight. The EU funded project RAQUEL, started in October 2013, evaluates the role played by randomness in quantum information processing. Project coordinator Jan Bouda, a researcher in Informatics at Masaryk University in Brno, in the Czech Republic, talks to youris.com why true randomness is so important and what it will mean for cryptography.

Why can my computer not produce true random numbers?

Conventional computing is based on classical physical principles. And in classical physics, there is not a single process that is intrinsically random. Hence, the randomness generated by classical devices, like your PC, is rather a consequence of our ignorance of the initial setup. On the contrary, randomness obtained from quantum computers is true, as the measurement is supposed to be intrinsically random. (ironically) That is if quantum physics is right.

So why is randomness so important?

Randomness is used in a huge number of efficient algorithms. In fact, for many problems, algorithms using random choices are far more efficient than the best-known deterministic algorithms. These algorithms are used to reduce the amount of communication for distributed computation, such as, in cloud computing, and more importantly, for cryptography. Any application that should work securely needs random numbers.

On the other hand, to produce high-quality random numbers is not easy. Even in specialised devices, like in quantum , the amount of random numbers you can produce per second is strictly limited. Random numbers are important in all areas of computer science. But in cryptography the quality is a deal breaker. In many applications, even a minor flaw in randomness can completely jeopardise the security.

What are your current research goals?

The overall goal is to establish the role of randomness in . We focus on two basic aspects. How to produce true randomness efficiently. And how to use this randomness in an efficient way, so that the produced is not wasted.

Can you name some possible, practical applications of the research?

I guess that the first applications will be in securing high-importance communication links, like between the headquarters of banks and their branches or between different government institutions. These technologies have already been available for many years and are being deployed. A good example is the SECOQC project, in which several big firms in Europe use to secure their internal communication and avoid espionage from the outside world. Another example is ID Quantique, a Swiss firm that sells so-called quantum key distributors. These are devices that already produce based on quantum physics.

Explore further: Quantum cryptography: Keeping your secrets secret

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Quantum cryptography: Keeping your secrets secret

Mar 26, 2014

An article in Nature reviewing developments in quantum cryptography describes how we can keep our secrets secret even when faced with the double challenge of mistrust and manipulation.

Physics duo describe a way to guarantee true randomness

May 08, 2012

(Phys.org) -- In the natural world, it seems randomness is all around. Walk through a forest for example and it appears completely random, despite the fact that natural patterns emerge at almost every turn. ...

The road to quantum computing

May 15, 2014

Anticipating the advent of the quantum computer, related mathematical methods already provide insight into conventional computer science.

Recommended for you

Cold Atom Laboratory creates atomic dance

6 hours ago

Like dancers in a chorus line, atoms' movements become synchronized when lowered to extremely cold temperatures. To study this bizarre phenomenon, called a Bose-Einstein condensate, researchers need to cool ...

Wild molecular interactions in a new hydrogen mixture

12 hours ago

Hydrogen—the most abundant element in the cosmos—responds to extremes of pressure and temperature differently. Under ambient conditions hydrogen is a gaseous two-atom molecule. As confinement pressure ...

Scientists create possible precursor to life

13 hours ago

How did life originate? And can scientists create life? These questions not only occupy the minds of scientists interested in the origin of life, but also researchers working with technology of the future. ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

swordsman
not rated yet May 23, 2014
Planck's quantum theory was based on the laws of thermodynamics and probability theory. His energy state equation actually conforms to measurements of "white noise" (Planck, however, called the energy state changes "black radiation"). The probability equation was based on the throws of random numbers of dice. Einstein's reaction was to say: "God does not play dice", interjecting religion into the conversation.

I suggest these folks go back and check out Planck's energy state equation, which I elaborated on in my book: "Planck's Columbia Lectures" (pp. 373-394, published in 2005). The number or states can be manipulated by the constants of the equation.
Whydening Gyre
not rated yet May 23, 2014
The probability equation was based on the throws of random numbers of dice. Einstein's reaction was to say: "God does not play dice" ...
gd DOES flip a lot of coins, however...

true randomness only occurs in unclosed sets. Lucky for us, we've found no end to pi, yet, or it would be game over....:-)
Whydening Gyre
not rated yet May 25, 2014