# Computational hardness assumption

## Hypothesis in computational complexity theory / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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In computational complexity theory, a **computational hardness assumption** is the hypothesis that a particular problem cannot be solved efficiently (where *efficiently* typically means "in polynomial time"). It is not known how to prove (unconditional) hardness for essentially any useful problem. Instead, computer scientists rely on reductions to formally relate the hardness of a new or complicated problem to a computational hardness assumption about a problem that is better-understood.

Computational hardness assumptions are of particular importance in cryptography. A major goal in cryptography is to create cryptographic primitives with provable security. In some cases, cryptographic protocols are found to have information theoretic security; the one-time pad is a common example. However, information theoretic security cannot always be achieved; in such cases, cryptographers fall back to computational security. Roughly speaking, this means that these systems are secure *assuming that any adversaries are computationally limited*, as all adversaries are in practice.

Computational hardness assumptions are also useful for guiding algorithm designers: a simple algorithm is unlikely to refute a well-studied computational hardness assumption such as P ≠ NP.