# Why are singular “elliptic” curves bad for crypto?

Consider the algebraic curve given by a short Weierstraß equation $$y^2=x^3+ax+b$$.

If $$4a^3+27b^2=0$$, then there are repeated roots of the right-hand side $$x^3+ax+b$$. How are these repeated roots bad for a discrete-logarithm-based cryptosystem?

When a Weierstraß equation $$y^2 = x^3 + Ax + B$$ over $$\mathbf F_p$$ has a null discriminant, then it does not define an elliptic curve: it is a singular curve. In that case, it means the polynomial $$x^3 + Ax + B$$ has a double or triple root $$x_0$$ and the point $$(x_0, 0)$$ is a singular point. All the non-singular points still define a group law with the regular construction as in an elliptic curve.
• $$y^2 = x^3$$, then there are exactly $$p$$ non-singular points and there is an efficient map to the additive group of $$\mathbf F_p$$ where the discrete logarithm is trivial.
• $$y^2 = x^2(x-1)$$, then there are $$p+1$$ or $$p-1$$ points and there is an efficient map to the multiplicative group of $$\mathbf F_{p^2}^*$$ (which has $$p^2 - 1 = (p-1)(p+1)$$ elements) where the discrete logarithm is way easier to compute (but not as easy as the previous case).