One concept I've always wondered about is the use of cryptographic hash functions and values. I understand that these functions can generate a hash value that is unique and virtually impossible to reverse, but here's what I've always wondered:
If on my server, in PHP I produce:
md5("stackoverflow.com") = "d0cc85b26f2ceb8714b978e07def4f6e"
When you run that same string through an MD5 function, you get the same result on your PHP installation. A process is being used to produce some value, from some starting value.
Doesn't this mean that there is some way to deconstruct what is happening and reverse the hash value?
What is it about these functions that makes the resulting strings impossible to retrace?