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This function does not work correctly for me. The generated Gravatars do not match the ones actually produced by using the corresponding address.

The problem was traced to differing output from the Hash function.

VLC points out that the Hash documentation pages for version 7 and version 8 have common examples but show different outputs.

From version 7 I get:

IntegerString[Hash["gmailuser+10511@gmail.com", "MD5"], 16, 32]

Version 8 users apparently get:


Why do I get a different result and how do I get the right one?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Older Mathematica versions were including the enclosing quotes "" when generating the hash.

To get rid of the quotation marks you can use the function below instead of the standard Hash function. The credit for the function goes to Mark Fisher.

StringHash[string_String, type_: "MD5"] := 
  Module[{stream, file, hash}, stream = OpenWrite[];
  WriteString[stream, string];
  file = Close[stream];
  hash = FileHash[file, type];
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As an alternative to the solution by @VLC / Mark Fisher, the following JLink code will compute the correct MD5 hash (as returned by V8 or Unix md5sum):


md5[s_String] :=
  JavaBlock @ Module[{d, b}
  , d = java`security`MessageDigest`getInstance["MD5"]
  ; d@update[JavaNew["java.lang.String", s]@getBytes[]]
  ; b = JavaObjectToExpression[d@digest[]]
  ; StringJoin @@ IntegerString[b /. n_?Negative :> 256+n, 16, 2]

(* d9c48b644b8cc89bbcd07ec7a54dafc9 *)

We can use this function to see how V7 is adding quotation marks to a string before hashing:

(* cc270b8fbfb33469629c14e358183dd7 *)
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+1 -- incidentally I tried a Trace[. . . , TraceInternal->True] on Hash and it seems to already be using Java. It's also almost comical how complicated it appears to be. –  Mr.Wizard Oct 23 '12 at 18:07

I believe that the difference is that the Hash in v7 was hashing the quotation marks around the string, but the Hash in v8 does not. For example, in M7:

In[1]:= Hash["test", "MD5"]

Out[1]= 64111166190477440563271147919838643147

and in M8:

In[1]:= Hash["\"test\"", "MD5"]

Out[1]= 64111166190477440563271147919838643147

Therefore, I'd say that the M8 hash is the correct one.

Note that it appears that FileHash has not changed across versions. The following hash function will produce the same results in v7 and v8, although those results will not be the same as what you get from Hash in either version:

myHash[expr_, type_] := Module[{fname, res},
  fname = Close[OpenTemporary[]];
  Put[expr, fname];
  res = FileHash[fname, type];
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I believe you have the reason, but the proposed function does not give output that matches the v8 Hash function. Did you test it? –  Mr.Wizard Oct 23 '12 at 17:24
The point of myHash is that it will return the same results in v7 and v8. However, these results will be different than the results from Hash - it is not intended to reproduce the result of the v8 Hash in v7 (it looks VLC has a more clever approach). I will edit my response to make this more clear. –  KAI Oct 23 '12 at 17:30
Strongly related SO question: "Cryptographic hash (sha1 or md5) of data given as a string in Mathematica". The answer contains another workaround. –  Alexey Popkov Oct 24 '12 at 1:33

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