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It sounds like you're basically asking for a definition of the word "cipher". I agree that it's somewhat fuzzy and complicated — that's mainly because "cipher", on its own, is not a precisely defined technical term in modern cryptography, but a descriptive word whose meaning, like that of most other English words, has evolved gradually over time. So, ...


3

First, be careful with Wikipedia. The more specialised you get, the more poorly written articles there are. You should prefer material which has been written by experts, such as textbooks or online lecture notes. As yyyyyyy says in the comments, this is probably opinion-based, and most people probably don't care. I can only find one book which uses the word ...



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