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Digital fingerprinting is the identification of large data files or structures using truncated information. A fingerprinting algorithm is one that reduces a larger data set to a very small data set, sometimes called a bit string, to promote efficient identification and search protocols.
One type of common fingerprint algorithm is called a hash function. These functions change a larger data set, sometimes known as a key, into a shorter data set, which may be called a hash. These altered pieces of data help make search techniques more agile.
One type of digital fingerprinting application is related to new digital media files. Experts note that digital fingerprinting helps a user locate a specific file to verify whether a file has been altered, while actually facilitating copyright protection. This involves using a fingerprint identifier to conduct protected file searches for other online file instances. Digital fingerprinting plays other roles for average end users, such as verifying whether particular file instances have been altered.