I came across the tag today. The description says

Merkle refers to cryptographic advances introduced by Ralph Merkle, like "Merkle's Puzzles", "Merkle's Hash Trees" and the Merkle–Damgård hash function.

I personally didn't like the idea of having a single tag that refer's to all cryptographic advances/contributions introduced by a specific cryptographer. Should we be doing this? If so, what other tags should we add (Shamir, Rivest, ?)

  • $\begingroup$ You might have a small typo up there. The tag is "merkle" while your tag-link says merkel... like the name of Germany's current chancellor. ;) $\endgroup$
    – e-sushi
    Jul 30, 2013 at 16:57
  • $\begingroup$ @e-sushi thanks $\endgroup$
    – mikeazo
    Jul 30, 2013 at 17:00
  • $\begingroup$ As it was me who introduced that tag, it was the least I could do. Speaking of it, I guess you are correct and @paulo-ebermann's answer proposes a good alternative to the current situation (which I caused - sorry). $\endgroup$
    – e-sushi
    Jul 30, 2013 at 17:02

1 Answer 1


I don't think the name of a cryptographer is a useful categorization.

That way we would have to add three tags to every RSA question, and two to any Diffie-Hellman question ... what about a question that relates to both?

The three objects (co-)invented/discovered by Ralph Merkle should get individual tags if necessary, like , or .

They don't really have anything in common from a crypto point of view, and I don't suppose that there are people who search for "questions about anything from Merkle" (other than Ralph Merkle himself, maybe).

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ merkle-damgard probably deserved a tag, but IMO [tree-hash] is enough, we don't need [merkle-tree] in a addition to that. $\endgroup$ Jul 30, 2013 at 17:24
  • $\begingroup$ @CodesInChaos Assuming I've correctly understood you, your reasoning certainly makes sense and that would indeed make tagging easier. So - just to be sure I actually got it right - all tree hashes (eg the Tiger Tree Hash) should go into the [tree-hash] tag? And wouldn't that make "Merkle-Damgård" wrong too according to this reasoning, since that could be generalized using a [hash-function] tag? $\endgroup$
    – e-sushi
    Jul 31, 2013 at 11:26
  • $\begingroup$ I know nobody who makes a distinction between hash-trees and merkle-trees. So these look pretty much like synonyms to me. A Merkle-Damgard tag can be useful when discussing properties of a hash that are specific for this construction, but not when discussing a problem unrelated to MD which just happens to use a hashfunction like MD5 or SHA-2. $\endgroup$ Jul 31, 2013 at 14:51
  • $\begingroup$ For what it's worth, I personally find [merkle-tree] more helpful than [tree-hash]. A "Merkle tree" is a standard term in a cryptography. A "tree hash" is... well, I wouldn't know what it is, and I don't know if there's any standard accepted meaning for it. I prefer sticking with Paulo's suggestion (but this is just one vote). $\endgroup$
    – D.W.
    Aug 3, 2013 at 20:10
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @D.W.: We don't currently have either tree-hash or merkle-tree, but we do have some questions tagged with hash-tree. IMO, that's a better name anyway: experts will know it's the same as a Merkle tree, while to non-experts it's more informative. (Surprisingly, there are people interested in crypto who haven't memorized the names of all notable cryptographers yet.) Anyway, a tag synonym from merkle-tree to hash-tree could be useful, so that someone typing "merkle" into the tag box will get hash-tree as a suggestion. Also, it needs a tag wiki... $\endgroup$ Aug 4, 2013 at 12:00
  • $\begingroup$ @IlmariKaronen, good solution! I like your suggestion. $\endgroup$
    – D.W.
    Aug 4, 2013 at 16:19

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