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Hash collision

 

Hash collision

Not to be confused with wireless packet collision or hash table collisions.

In computer science, a collision or clash is a situation that occurs when two distinct pieces of data have the same hash value, checksum, fingerprint, or cryptographic digest.[1]

Collisions are unavoidable whenever members of a very large set (such as all possible person names, or if this was sent to other people, or all possible computer files) are mapped to a relatively short bit string. This is merely an instance of the pigeonhole principle.[1]

The impact of collisions depends on the application. When hash functions and fingerprints are used to identify similar data, such as homologous DNA sequences or similar audio files, the functions are designed so as to maximize the probability of collision between distinct but similar data. Checksums, on the other hand, are designed to minimize the probability of collisions between similar inputs, without regard for collisions between very different inputs.

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