## Ancient History

The other day I was downloading an IDE for a new (to me) OS. When I went to compile some sample code, it failed. I went onto a forum, where I was told "if you read the release notes you'd know that the peripheral libraries are in a legacy download". Well damn! Looking back at my previous versions I realized I must have done that and forgotten about it. Everything changes, and keeping up with it takes time and effort.

When I first started with microprocessors we...

## Dealing With Fixed Point Fractions

Fixed point fractional representation always gives me a headache because I screw it up the first time I try to implement an algorithm. The difference between integer operations and fractional operations is in the overflow. If the representation fits in the fixed point result, you can not tell the difference between fixed point integer and fixed point fractions. When integers overflow, they lose data off the most significant bits. When fractions overflow, they lose data off...

## Mathematics and Cryptography

The mathematics of number theory and elliptic curves can take a life time to learn because they are very deep subjects. As engineers we don't have time to earn PhD's in math along with all the things we have to learn just to make communications systems work. However, a little learning can go a long way to helping make our communications systems secure - we don't need to know everything. The following articles are broken down into two realms, number theory and elliptic...

## Elliptic Curve Digital Signatures

A digital signature is used to prove a message is connected to a specific sender. The sender can not deny they sent that message once signed, and no one can modify the message and maintain the signature. The message itself is not necessarily secret. Certificates of authenticity, digital cash, and software distribution use digital signatures so recipients can verify they are getting what they paid for.

Since messages can be of any length and mathematical algorithms always use fixed...

## Elliptic Curve Key Exchange

Elliptic Curve Cryptography is used to create a Public Key system that allows two people (or computers) to exchange public data so that both sides know a secret that no one else can find in a reasonable time. The simplest method uses a fixed public key for each person. Once cracked, every message ever sent with that key is open. More advanced key exchange systems have "perfect forward secrecy" which means that even if one message key is cracked, no other message will...

## Polynomial Inverse

One of the important steps of computing point addition over elliptic curves is a division of two polynomials. When working in $GF(2^n)$ we don't have large enough powers to actually do a division, so we compute the inverse of the denominator and then multiply. This is usually done using Euclid's method, but if squaring and multiplying are fast we can take advantage of these operations and compute the multiplicative inverse in just a few steps.

The first time I ran across this...

## One Clock Cycle Polynomial Math

Error correction codes and cryptographic computations are most easily performed working with $GF(2^n)$ polynomials. By using very special values of $n$ we can build circuits which multiply and square in one clock cycle on an FPGA. These circuits come about by flipping back and forth between a standard polynomial basis and a normal basis representation of elements in $GF(2^n)$.

A normal basis is yet another form of polynomial but instead of adding powers of $\beta$ we add...

## Elliptic Curve Cryptography

Secure online communications require encryption. One standard is AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) from NIST. But for this to work, both sides need the same key for encryption and decryption. This is called Private Key encryption. Public Key encryption is used to create a private key between two sides that have not previously communicated. Compared to the history of encryption, Public Key methods are very recent having been started in the 1970's. Elliptic...

## Polynomial Math

Elliptic Curve Cryptography is used as a public key infrastructure to secure credit cards, phones and communications links. All these devices use either FPGA's or embedded microprocessors to compute the algorithms that make the mathematics work. While the math is not hard, it can be confusing the first time you see it. This blog is an introduction to the operations of squaring and computing an inverse over a finite field which are used in computing Elliptic Curve arithmetic. ...

## Number Theory for Codes

Everything in the digital world is encoded. ASCII and Unicode are combinations of bits which have specific meanings to us. If we try to interpret a compiled program as Unicode, the result is a lot of garbage (and beeps!) To reduce errors in transmissions over radio links we use Error Correction Codes so that even when bits are lost we can recover the ASCII or Unicode original. To prevent anyone from understanding a transmission we can encrypt the raw data...

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