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Earth Science

Naming All Lifeforms On Earth With Hash Functions 97

Posted by timothy
from the sort-of-a-nickname dept.
First time accepted submitter ssasa writes "A Virginia Tech researcher is proposing a new naming system for all life on earth [based on each organism's] genetic fingerprint — basically something like a hash function of an organism. Hash functions are in common use in software development. Hopefully it will pass some time before we see a hash collision between a cat and some dinosaur."
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Naming All Lifeforms On Earth With Hash Functions

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  • by utkonos (2104836) on Saturday February 22, 2014 @07:14PM (#46313451)
    Last month, at ShmooCon [shmoocon.org] a talk [archive.org] was given about spatial analysis [shmoocon.org] of malware samples. The technique is borrowed directly from bioinformatics. This is a great example of techniques from Biology being used effectively in the IT security realm.

    I hope that the researcher involved in naming organisms based on hash algorithms chooses context triggered piecewise hashes (CTPH) AKA fuzzy hashing [dfrws.org] or a similarity hash algorithm [princeton.edu] rather than an algorithm like SHA512. Google's simhash [wwwconference.org] or at least the ideas of this type of algorithm would lend itself much better to the naming of organisms.

    FYI: a FOSS implementation of fussy hashing is called ssdeep. The project site is here [sourceforge.net]. This is an implementation that is widely used in open source malware analysis tools like Cuckoo Sandbox [cuckoosandbox.org].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22, 2014 @07:19PM (#46313471)

    So are every two people who aren't twins going to have a completely different hash function?

    Perhaps a better scheme would be to assign a function that describes the genetic similarity between two organisms. Well, we kinda already have that. We can use percentage. and if all organisms are 90 percent similar and only vary by ten percent, for instance, we can narrow our function to those ten percent. Create a new scale from 1 to 100 where the genetically most similar organisms would be grouped next to each other (a 1 would be genetically very similar to a 2 varying by a percentage of a percentage or whatever it scales to) and the least similar organisms would be grouped far apart (a 100 would be genetically least similar to a 1 varying by ten percent). Wait ... we kinda already do that.

    So what are the advantages of this guy's ideas.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22, 2014 @07:47PM (#46313591)

    differing genetic code.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22, 2014 @09:41PM (#46313983)

    and the idea is nothing new except he is adding more digits and making it more confusing for us by removing the intuitive base ten that has been the scientific standard since the metric system and replacing it with something worse (kinda like how the 'standard' system is worse than the metric system).

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