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Date: Sun, 6 Apr 2014 02:47:52 +0400
From: Solar Designer <>
Subject: Re: [PHC] Quick gripe... in case there's ever another contest

On Sat, Apr 05, 2014 at 08:14:10PM +0200, Thomas Pornin wrote:
> For SHA-3
> More insidiously, some candidate codes used "dangerous" code patterns
> which resulted in breakage when used on a big-endian machine, or when
> compiled with different optimisation flags (C's strict aliasing rules
> are rarely well understood). Also, a number of candidate implementations
> used static read-write variables, resulting in code which was not
> thread-safe, or even stateful code (hash the same buffer twice from the
> same program, and you don't get the same output...).

FWIW, I did make an attempt at avoiding all of the above in the yescrypt
code that I submitted.  I tested on 64-bit and 32-bit x86, and on 32-bit
big-endian PPC (albeit not the latest revision, so I'll need to
re-test).  (For a production release, I'd test on more platforms.)
I also made a good attempt to meet C strict aliasing rules, fixing two
such issues that were present in scrypt code (one of them was actually
triggerable in scrypt's crypto-nosse.c with unusual gcc options - forced
function inlining beyond what -O3 does - I did report it to Colin a
while ago).  The thread-safety status of each API function is documented
in yescrypt.h.

Potential stateful (or unstable) behavior of the hashing function would
likely be detected by my tests.c's invocation of it on the same password
and salt and ROM with the ROM having been regenerated with different
memory allocation (this was initially introduced to test that extra API
feature, but it also works to detect potential inadvertent statefulness).
Additionally, the included userom.c program makes sure that the same
hashes are computed for random inputs generated from the same seed for
calls to yescrypt from a single thread and from multiple threads further
in the same program (this is not shown in program output, which is
limited to benchmark results, but if a mismatch does occur, the program
will complain).

So I think I did a pretty good job with the code, for its present status
as a PHC submission rather than as a production release.  Unfortunately,
I didn't do nearly as well with the specification, which I started
writing way too late and have yet to improve.

> (In fact, my opinion is that a _reference_ implementation, meant to test
> other implementations for correctness, should be done in a language
> which does NOT have undefined or architecture-dependent behaviour. C
> should be banned for that; reference implementations should be in Java
> or C#, or ideally something even stricter because even Java or C# may
> offer non-portable behaviour when using floating-point types.)

This is not without merit, but which approach is best is unclear to me.

As you pointed out, there may be language-related bugs in Java code too,
and here's a relevant example:


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