# Why is variable rotation uncommon in cryptographic primitives?

Most cryptographic primitives I've seen rotate by a constant. RC5 did something different though: For a word size $w=2^n$, you can take the last $n$ bits of a value as a rotation amount. There's more sophisticated variants like that used in RC6.

To give these values a name: $A \lll B$.

Some good things:

• Rotations are fast
• Provides some diffusion
• Has some nonlinear properties
• Can be strong when combined with other operations

• Parity of $A$ is preserved
• Differences in $A$ are preserved
• Only a few bits in $B$ are used
• Differences in $B$ may not have an effect (or have little effect)
• Less differences if $A$ is mostly (or all) 0s or 1s
• Less differences with alignment in $A$
• Multiple variable rotations are not proportionally better

There's probably some more subtle weaknesses that make it more susceptible to differential cryptanalysis, but nothing that totally breaks it I think, or RC5 would be unusable.