SHA-3 Competition (2007-2012) was a competition initiated by NIST as a call for a new cryptographic hash algorithm for standardization purposes.

Quoting http://csrc.nist.gov/groups/ST/hash/sha-3/

NIST announced a public competition in a Federal Register Notice on November 2, 2007 to develop a new cryptographic hash algorithm, called SHA-3, for standardization. The competition was NIST’s response to advances made in the cryptanalysis of hash algorithms.

NIST received sixty-four entries from cryptographers around the world by October 31, 2008, and selected fifty-one first-round candidates in December 2008, fourteen second-round candidates in July 2009, and five finalists – BLAKE, Grøstl, JH, Keccak and Skein, in December 2010 to advance to the third and final round of the competition.

Throughout the competition, the cryptographic community has provided an enormous amount of feedback. Most of the comments were sent to NIST and a public hash forum; in addition, many of the cryptanalysis and performance studies were published as papers in major cryptographic conferences or leading cryptographic journals. NIST also hosted a SHA-3 candidate conference in each round to obtain public feedback. Based on the public comments and internal review of the candidates, NIST announced Keccak as the winner of the SHA-3 Cryptographic Hash Algorithm Competition on October 2, 2012, and ended the five-year competition.

At the end of the competition, Keccak – a sponge-function based hash family – was chosen as the winner of the competition. For SHA-3/Keccak-related questions and answers, you might want to check the tags and .

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