[RC5] prize monies

David McNett nugget at slacker.com
Fri Jan 29 13:21:19 EST 1999

On 28-Jan-1999, Michael L. Dawson wrote:
> Now that DES III is over, I have some concerns about the prize monies.
> For starters, my concern is about the deep crack machine that EFF
> developed. It apparently can process atleast 35 times faster than my
> little desktop which causes me to think that there will be no way in
> the world for any ordinary person/machine to win a DES contest. Well...
> maybe not "no way", but the odds have been substantially altered.

While on the surface, this analysis seems valid, but the numbers simply
do not point this direction.  At the time when the key was found, the EFF
Deep Crack machine was only 35% of distributed.net's aggregate keyrate.
This means that deep crack really beat the odds in finding the key.  They
only had about a 1 in 3 chance of finding the key.  Moreover, while deep
crack's keyrate was constant, the aggregate keyrate was still increasing
which would have lowered those odds even further had the contest

As to your own personal odds at winning, it really doesn't matter much
one way or the other if deep crack is involved.  The fact that it was one
big machine instead of a lab full of alphas doesn't change its inmact on
your odds of finding the key.  Logically, as distributed.net attracts
more people, the odds of any one specific contributor finding the key are

> It seems a bit unfair to me that EFF and it's various officers/members
> will garner 80% of the prize money. My feeling is that any person or
> organization under the auspices of d.net should not be allowed to
> receive the charity portion of the prize if they win the contest. It
> just smells real fishy to me.

I certainly do not begrudge EFF their $6,000 share of the prize money.
EFF has been on our non-profit selection list since we implemented the
feature at the beginning of the RC5-64 contest.  It's important to
remember that EFF is a non-profit foundation that's fighting to preserve
all of our online rights.  We all benefit from EFF having sufficient
funding, not just the organization's officers.

> Another concern I have is that if deep crack is allowed to participate
> in future DES contests, then the percentage of prize monies should be
> altered to provide a little more incentive to those of us who are not
> part of a well financed team, or even a poorly financed team for that
> matter. For instance, the prize money could be broken down like this,
> 20% to d.net (this is well deserved in my humble opinion) After d.net's
> cut, then the winning team/individual member should be entitled to
> atleast half of what is left over, which is 40%. A 20/20 split in the
> case of a team winning. The remaining 40% then would go to a non-winning
> charity. Personally, I'd prefer the Red Cross to get the money. It's
> internationally recognized and you know the money would be spent on
> something very positive, like helping out quake or flood victims, and
> not to further code breaking efforts that will eventually enrich only a
> select few of the overall group of participants.

Nobody is being enriched here other than well-deserving non-profit 
organizations like EFF.  We've received numerous comments in favor 
of broadening the selection of non-profits available for vote
and adding some less technical organizaions (such as the red cross
for instance) and this concept is in consideration.  However, in my
eyes, EFF is just as noble a cause as the Red Cross.

As to your specific proposal, I don't think you'll ever see us reduce
the percentage of the money that goes to the non-profit.  It was a 
very tough decision for use to reduce it from 80% to 60% and I
certainly do not see us going any lower than that.

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