How does Nginx look-up cached resource?

Maxim Dounin mdounin at
Mon Sep 7 16:17:59 UTC 2015


On Mon, Sep 07, 2015 at 03:34:27PM +0200, Sergey Brester wrote:

> On 06.09.2015 02:08, Maxim Dounin wrote:
> >Well, not, I don't confuse anything. For sure, brute force attack
> >on a 128 bit hash requires approximately 2^64 attempts.
> >That is, a single nginx instance with 2^64 cached resources will
> >likely show up a collision. But that's not a number of resources
> >you'll be able to store on a single node - in particular, because
> >64-bit address space wouldn't be enough to address that many
> >cached items.
> >To obtain a collision of a 128-bit hash with at least 1%
> >probability, you'll need more than 10^18 resources cached on a
> >single node, which is not even close to a something possible as
> >well.
> >Assuming 1 billion of keys (which is way more than a single nginx
> >node can handle now, and will require about 125G of memory for a
> >cache keys zone), probability of a collision is less than 10^(-20).
> >Quoting [2]:
> >For comparison, 10^(-18) to 10^(-15) is the uncorrectable bit
> >error rate of a typical hard disk.
> 1) I will try to explain you, that is not quite true with a small
> approximation: let our hash value be exact one byte large (8 bit), it can
> obtain 2^8 = 256 different hash values (and let it be perfect distributed).
> The relative frequency to encounter a collision - same hash for any random
> another inside this interval (Hv0 - Hv255) will be also 256, because circa
> each 256-th char sequence will obtain the same hash value (Hv0).


> Will be such hash safe? Of course not, never.

That depends on the use case, actually, but it's certainly not a 
good hash to use for identification of multiple documents.

> But if we will hash any character sequences with max length 16 bytes, we
> will have 256^16 (~= 10^38) different variations of binary string (keys).
> The relation (and the probability (Pc) to have a collision for two any
> random strings) would be only (10^38/256 - 1)/10^38 * (10^38/256 - 2)/(10^38
> - 1) ~= 0.000015.

As long as you have two random 16-byte (128-bit) strings, they 
will collide with probablility 1/(2^128): one string can't 
collide with itself, and another one will collide if happens to be 
the same as the first one.

Hash values of these two strings will collide with probablility of 
1/256.  It only depends on the size of the hash output, not sizes 
of input strings.

I have no idea how did you get numbers you are claiming, they look 

> Small, right? But the relative frequency (Hrc) is still 256! This can be
> explained with really large count of different sequences, and so with large
> count of hash values (Hv1-Hv255) that are not equal with (Hv0).

See above, hash values of two random strings will collide with 
probability of 1/256.

> But let us resolve the approximation: the hash value obtain 2^128 (~=
> 10^38), but how many values maximum should be hashed? It's unknown. Let our
> keys contain maximum 100 bytes, the count of variations of all possible
> strings will be 256^100 (~= 10^240). The probability to encounter of a
> collision and the relative frequency to encounter a collision will be a
> several order smaller (1e-78), but the relation between Hrc and Pc is
> comparable to example above (in the sense of relation between of both). And
> in this relation is similar (un)safe. Yes less likely (well 8 vs 128 bits)
> but still "unsafe".

The Wikipedia article about "Birthday attack" I linked 
explains how to calculate probabilities of collisions depending on 
hash output size and number of values hashed.  Please read it 

Trying to say that numbers calculated are "unknown" isn't 


> 2) For the *caching* it's at all not required to have such "safe" hash
> functions:
>   - The hash function should create reasonably perfect distributed values;
>   - The hash function should be fast as possible (we can get MurmurHash or
> something similar, significantly faster than md5);
>   - We should always compare the keys, after cache entry with hash value was
> found, to be sure exact the same key was found; But that does not make our
> cache slower, because the generation of hash value can be faster through
> algorithms faster as md5 (for example the MMH3 is up to 90% faster as MD5);
>   - In the very less likely case of collision we will just forget the cached
> entry with previous key or save it as array for serial access (not really
> expected by caching and large hash value, because rare and that is a cache -
> not a database that should always hold an entry).
> I want implement that and post a PR, and can make it configurable (something
> like `fastcgi_cache_safe = on`) then you can compare the performance of it -
> would be faster as your md5/crc32 implementation.

Apart from changing md5 to "something faster", this approach is 
identical to just adding the full key check.  I already explained 
why this isn't needed.

Maxim Dounin

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