I have been given a number Y which is ($a$ xor $b$ xor $c$ xor $d$ xor $e$ ) of some numbers ($a$,$b$,$c$,$d$,$e$) and another no X. Now i have to determine if X is a xor combination of ($a$,$b$,$c$,$d$,$e$)

e.g - ($a$ xor $d$) , ($b$ xor $c$ xor $e$) , ( $a$ xor $e$ )

What i know clearly is that lets say X= ($b$ xor $d$) , Now if I xor X and Y i get ($a$ xor $c$ xor $e$), as ( $b$ xor $b$=0 ) and if it was some number not a xor combination (say $p$ ) then i would have got ($a$ xor $b$ xor $c$ xor $d$ xor $e$ xor $p$)

How should i approach this question?

  • $\begingroup$ It’s a linear algebra question. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 6, 2019 at 5:14
  • $\begingroup$ How should I approach it? I am using properties of boolean operators $\endgroup$
    – foobar
    Commented Jul 6, 2019 at 6:27
  • $\begingroup$ Use your knowledge of linear algebra. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 6, 2019 at 6:56
  • $\begingroup$ Can you please explain a little? :) $\endgroup$
    – foobar
    Commented Jul 6, 2019 at 7:05
  • $\begingroup$ Regard bitwise representation of the numbers as vectors over ring of integers modulo 2. Then XOR is a sum of such vectors. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 6, 2019 at 7:12

1 Answer 1


Suppose that your numbers are $n$-bit long. Then you can think of them as elements of the vector space $\mathbb{F}_2^n$. The number $X$ can be written as an XOR of $a_1,\ldots,a_m$ if $X$ is in the linear span of $a_1,\ldots,a_m$. In order to determine whether $X$ is in the linear span of $a_1,\ldots,a_m$, you can use Gaussian elimination.


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