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An asymmetric algorithm is

a cryptographic algorithm using different, mathematically-related keys for encryption and decryption.[1]
[a]n algorithm for performing encipherment or the corresponding decipherment in which the keys used for encipherment and decipherment differ.[2]


"With some asymmetric cryptographic algorithms, decipherment of ciphertext or the generation of a digital signature requires the use of more than one ]]private key]].[3]

"Asymmetric algorithms are poorly suited for encrypting large messages because they are relatively slow. Instead, these algorithms are used to achieve authentication, integrity and non-repudiation, and support confidentiality through key management. Asymmetric algorithms are used to perform three operations: digital signatures, key transport, and key agreement."[4]


  1. U.S. Export Administration Regulations, Part 772 (15 C.F.R. §772.1).
  2. ITU, "Compendium of Approved ITU-T Security Definitions," at 4 (Feb. 2003 ed.) (full-text).
  3. Id.
  4. NIST Special Publication 800-32, Introduction to Public Key Technology and the Federal PKI Infrastructure 11 (Feb. 26, 2001) (full-text).