Tight Bounds for Hashing Block Sources

Kai-Min Chung and Salil Vadhan


It is known that if a 2-universal hash function H is applied to elements of a block source (X1,…,XT), where each item Xi has enough min-entropy conditioned on the previous items, then the output distribution (H,H(X1),…,H(XT)) will be “close” to the uniform distribution. We provide improved bounds on how much min-entropy per item is required for this to hold, both when we ask that the output be close to uniform in statistical distance and when we only ask that it be statistically close to a distribution with small collision probability.  In both cases, we reduce the dependence of the min-entropy on the number T of items from 2log T in previous work to log T, which we show to be optimal.  This leads to corresponding improvements to the recent results of Mitzenmacher and Vadhan (SODA `08) on the analysis of hashing-based algorithms and data structures when the data items come from a block source.


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