As far as I know, when someone says 'a reduction is tight', it means that given that there is an adversary $A$ with advantage $\epsilon$ and running time $t$ and another adversary $B$ utilizing $A$ to solve a problem $P$, the advantage and running time of $B$ are apporximated to those of $A$.

But here is my question:

When do we say $\epsilon ' \approx \epsilon$ and $t' \approx t$ exactly? Is there any specific criterion? (e.g. $\epsilon' \approx \epsilon \Leftrightarrow |\epsilon ' - \epsilon| \leq negl$, or something else).

I cannot find rigorous mathematical definitions about reduction tightness.

Thank you in advance.


1 Answer 1


The usual way to measure the tightness of a reduction (e.g., see [CMS]) is via the tightness gap, defined as $$\frac{t'}{\epsilon'}\big/\frac{t}{\epsilon}=\frac{t'\epsilon}{t\epsilon'}.$$ A reduction is then said to be tight if the tightness gap is $O(1)$ (ideally a small explicit constant).$^*$

However, as @Mark points out in the comments, [MW] argues that the above may not be the right measure when it comes to reductions involving decision problems/primitives (you can read more about why in the paper).

$^*$However, small polynomials are also considered tolerable.

[CMS]: Chatterjee, Menezes and Sarkar, Another Look at Tightness, SAC 2011.

[MW]: Micciancio and Walter, On the Bit Security of Cryptographic Primitives, EC 2018

  • $\begingroup$ Note that if you define the bit security of a (search) problem as $\kappa = \log_2 \frac{t}{\epsilon}$, this condition is simply that the bit securities $\kappa' - \kappa$ are close (within a constant factor). I mention the bit security formulation as the quantity $\frac{t}{\epsilon}$ is arguably the incorrect quantity to investigate for decision problems/primitives, see on the bit security of cryptographic primitives for details. $\endgroup$
    – Mark Schultz-Wu
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 9:33
  • $\begingroup$ Fair point, would you like to write up an answer? I'll delete this one. $\endgroup$
    – ckamath
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 11:58
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ no your answer is good --- I don't know if what I've suggested can be found in the literature (this notion of tightness is not found in the paper I linked), and this question is asking for a reference request. Still, it might be a good pointer to complement your reference. $\endgroup$
    – Mark Schultz-Wu
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 17:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The notion you suggested is quite natural. (Amended the answer.) $\endgroup$
    – ckamath
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 18:26
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe these papers be useful:[ Hofheinz-Jia-Pan-Asiacrypt2018], [ Langrehr-Pan-PKC2020] which they also emphasize on considering multi-challenge security definition rather than single challenge when dealing with tight security reductions. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 31 at 13:16

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