Create hash function digests for arbitrary R objects

The digest function applies a cryptographical hash function to arbitrary R objects. By default, the objects are internally serialized, and either one of the currently implemented MD5 and SHA-1 hash functions algorithms can be used to compute a compact digest of the serialized object.

In order to compare this implementation with others, serialization of the input argument can also be turned off in which the input argument must be a character string for which its digest is returned.

digest(object, algo=c("md5", "sha1", "crc32"), 
       serialize=TRUE, file=FALSE, length=Inf)

Cryptographic hash functions are well researched and documented. The MD5 algorithm by Ron Rivest is specified in RFC 1321. The SHA-1 algorithm is specified in FIPS-180-1. Crc32 is described in ftp://ftp.rocksoft.com/cliens/rocksoft/papers/crc_v3.txt.

For md5 and sha-1, this R implementation relies on two standalone implementations in C by Christophe Devine. For crc32, code from the zlib library by Jean-loup Gailly and Mark Adler is used.

Please note that this package is not meant to be used for cryptographic purposes for which more comprehensive (and widely tested) libraries such as OpenSSL should be used. Also, it is known that crc32 is not collision-proof. For sha-1, recent results indicate certain cryptographic weaknesses as well. For more details, see for example http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2005/02/cryptanalysis_o.html.


The digest function returns a character string of a fixed length containing the requested digest of the supplied R object. For MD5, a string of length 32 is returned; for SHA-1, a string of length 40 is returned; for CRC32 a string of length 8.


MD5: http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc1321.txt.

SHA-1: http://www.itl.nist.gov/fipspubs/fip180-1.htm.

CRC32: ftp://ftp.rocksoft.com/cliens/rocksoft/papers/crc_v3.txt.

http://www.cr0.net:8040/code/crypto for the underlying C functions used here for sha-1 and md5, and further references.

http://zlib.net for documentation on the zlib library which supplied the code for crc32.

See Also

serialize, md5sum

## Standard RFC 1321 test vectors
md5Input <-
    "message digest",
          "345678901234567890", sep=""))
md5Output <-

for (i in seq(along=md5Input)) {
  md5 <- digest(md5Input[i], serialize=FALSE)
  stopifnot(identical(md5, md5Output[i]))

sha1Input <-
sha1Output <- 

for (i in seq(along=sha1Input)) {
  sha1 <- digest(sha1Input[i], algo="sha1", serialize=FALSE)
  stopifnot(identical(sha1, sha1Output[i]))

crc32Input <-
crc32Output <- 

for (i in seq(along=crc32Input)) {
  crc32 <- digest(crc32Input[i], algo="crc32", serialize=FALSE)
  stopifnot(identical(crc32, crc32Output[i]))

# one of the FIPS-
sha1 <- digest("abc", algo="sha1", serialize=FALSE)
stopifnot(identical(sha1, "a9993e364706816aba3e25717850c26c9cd0d89d"))

# example of a digest of a standard R list structure
digest(list(LETTERS, data.frame(a=letters[1:5], b=matrix(1:10,ncol=2))))

# test 'length' parameter and file input
fname = file.path(R.home(),"COPYING")
x = readChar(fname, file.info(fname)$size) # read file
for (alg in c("sha1", "md5", "crc32")) {
  # partial file
  h1 = digest(x    , length=18000, algo=alg, serialize=FALSE)
  h2 = digest(fname, length=18000, algo=alg, serialize=FALSE, file=TRUE)
  h3 = digest( substr(x,1,18000) , algo=alg, serialize=FALSE)
  stopifnot( identical(h1,h2), identical(h1,h3) )
  # whole file
  h1 = digest(x    , algo=alg, serialize=FALSE)
  h2 = digest(fname, algo=alg, serialize=FALSE, file=TRUE)
  stopifnot( identical(h1,h2) )

# compare md5 algorithm to other tools
fname = file.path(R.home(),"COPYING")
h1 = as.character(md5sum(fname))
h2 = digest(fname, algo="md5", file=TRUE)
stopifnot( identical(h1,h2) )
Documentation reproduced from package digest, version 0.2.3, License: GPL Version 2

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