Two of the properties that lead to the design of DES S-Boxes are:

  1. For any non-zero 6-bit difference between inputs, no more than 8 of the 32 pairs of inputs exhibiting that difference may result in the same output difference.

  2. This is a criterion similar to the previous one, but for the case of three S-boxes.

The book i am reading (Understanding Cryptography from Christof Paar and Jan Pelzl) translates the second one to: A collision (zero output difference) at the 32-bit output of the eight S-boxes is only possible for three adjacent S-boxes.

Can anyone explain me the first property? I have searched for that property on google but the statement is always the same and i can't understand it. At first i thought that the non-zero 6-bi difference was between two different inputs to an s-box. But then it talks about 8 pairs of the 32 pairs (the only 32-bit input is the one before the expansion) that exhibit the 6-bit difference. Am i the only one finding this explanation confuse as hell?

As for the second criterion and assuming the book explanation i assume that you can't have something like (O = output of s box):

O(s1) = O(s2) = O(s3) = O(s4) = O(s5) = O(s6) = O(s7) = O(s8)

but you can have:

O(s1) = O(s2) = O(s3) && O(s4) = O(s5) = O(s6) or some combination of three adjacent s-boxes.

I hope you understand my questions and you can help because i would like to clarify this.

  • $\begingroup$ Have you read coppersmith94.pdf? The criteria for (S-7) (your 1) is given in the section entitled Discussion of Criteria and puts an upper bound (on the probability of a linear approximation. (S-8) (your 2) is the three active S box case described there. You haven't cited references or specified the book. $\endgroup$
    – user1430
    Commented Sep 7, 2014 at 10:41
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for you answer. I edited the question to add the book. Didn't see this document. Still, this documents helps me as much as any other i read. The problem is that property 8 depends on the understanding of 7 and i don't understand 7. If you understand it please explain me because i have read the property a thousand times and still makes no sense. It first talks about what i assume as a 6 bit difference between two inputs two an s-box but then it talks about an 8-bit pair of inputs with a 6-bit difference??? Makes no sense to me $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 7, 2014 at 11:10

1 Answer 1


First property says- If you consider a 6-bit Inpput Difference(Difference means XOR in case of DES).i.e 6-bit binary number which is the xor of two inputs(obviously both 6 bits).When you enter both of these inputs to Sbox and get two outputs each of 4 bits and xor the outputs what you get is called Output Difference.

Total 64 inputs are possible hence 32 pairs having a same difference.

So this property says for any non-zero 6-bit input difference there can be maximum 8 possible different 4 bit output difference and not more than that.

Hope i am clear


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