I tried to understand some crypto text but I am new to this.

Does this:

Let $X,X'$ be $\ell$-bit values, and $\Delta X=X\oplus X'$

means that $X$ and $X'$ have $\ell$ bits and $\Delta X=X-X'$ or something else


means that $X$ and $X'$ have $\ell$ bits[...]?


means that [...] $\Delta X=X-X'$[...]?

Yes and no. Fundamentally what $x-y$ means is $x+(-y)$, but for bit-strings over $\mathbb F_2$ this becomes $x+(-y)\bmod 2$ for each bit, and $-y\equiv y\pmod 2$, i.e. $y$ and $-y$ behave the same. As this means that addition is just XOR, we write $x\oplus y$ to indicate this.

Also note that $\Delta X=X\oplus X'$ is the bitstring that has a bit set iff $X$ and $X'$ differ in that bit position and so it's the "difference" ($\Delta$) between the strings.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you very much! Now I understand finally:) $\endgroup$ Mar 8 '20 at 13:10
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You also might mention that this $\Delta$ is used in Differential Cryptanalysis and $\oplus$ is the natural choice for the $\Delta$ since the key is $\oplus$'ed with the current state. This doesn't mean that $\Delta$ is always useful with $\oplus$, however, couldn't see some other choices. $\endgroup$
    – kelalaka
    Mar 8 '20 at 19:05

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