On 10/28/2008 09:43 AM, Leichter, Jerry wrote: > | We start with a group comprising N members (machines or > | persons). Each of them, on demand, puts out a 160 bit > | word, called a "member" word. We wish to combine these > | to form a single word, the "group" word, also 160 bits > | in length. > This isn't enough. Somehow, you have to state that the values emitted > on demand in any given round i (where a round consists of exactly one > demand on all N member and produces a single output result) cannot > receive any input from any other members. Otherwise, if N=2 and member > 0 produces true random values that member 1 can see before it responds > to the demand it received, then member 1 can cause the final result to > be anything it likes.

Perhaps an example will make it clear where I am coming from. Suppose I start with a deck of cards that has been randomly shuffled. It can provide log2(52!) bits of entropy. That's a little more than 225 bits. Now suppose I have ten decks of cards all arranged alike. You could set this up by shuffling one of them and then stacking the others to match ... or by some more symmetric process. In any case the result is symmetric w.r.t interchange of decks. In this situation, I can choose any one of the decks and obtain 225 bits of entropy. The funny thing is that if I choose N of the decks, I still get only 225 bits of entropy, not N*225. This can be summarized by saying that entropy is not an extensive quantity in this situation. The graph of entropy versus N goes like this: 225 * * * * * 0 * 0 1 2 3 4 5 (# of decks) The spooky aspect of this situation is the whack-a-mole aspect: You cannot decide in advance which one of the decks has entropy and which N-1 of them do not. That's the wrong question. The first deck we choose to look at has 225 bits of entropy, and only then can we say that the other N-1 decks have zero additional entropy. The original question spoke of "trusted" sources of entropy, and I answered accordingly. To the extent that the sources are correlated, they were never eligible to be considered trusted sources of entropy. To say the same thing the other way around, to the extent that each source can be trusted to provide a certain amount of entropy, it must be to that extent independent of the others. It is possible for a source to be partially dependent and partially independent. For example, if you take each of the ten aforementioned decks and "cut the deck" randomly and independently, that means the first deck we look at will provide 225 bits of entropy, and each one thereafter will provide 5.7 bits of additional entropy, since log2(52)=5.7. So in this situation, each deck can be /trusted/ to provide 5.7 bits of entropy. In this situation, requiring each deck to have "no input" from the other decks would be an overly strict requirement. We do not need full independence; we just need some independence, as quantified by the provable lower bound on the entropy. If you wanted, you could do a deeper analysis of this example, taking into account the fact that 5.7 is not the whole story. It is easy to use 5.7 bits as a valid and trustworthy lower bound, but under some conditions more entropy is available, and can be quantified by considering the _joint_ probability distribution and computing the entropy of that distribution. Meanwhile the fact remains that under a wide range of practical conditions, it makes sense to engineer a randomness generator based on provable lower bounds, since that is good enough to get the job done, and a deeper analysis would not be worth the trouble. http://www.av8n.com/turbid/paper/turbid.htm > If the issue is how to make sure you get out at least all the randomness > that was there, I'm going to ignore the "At least". It is very hard to get out more than you put in. On a less trivial note: The original question did not require getting out every last bit of available randomness. In situations where the sources might be partially independent and partially dependent, that would be a very hard challenge, and I do not wish to accept that challenge. Dealing with provable lower bounds on the entropy is more tractable, and sufficient for a wide range of practical purposes. --------------------------------------------------------------------- The Cryptography Mailing List Unsubscribe by sending "unsubscribe cryptography" to [EMAIL PROTECTED]