Can someone eli12 how keccak / sha3 truly innovates hashing beyond Merkle–Damgård constructions?

Can someone eli12 how keccak / sha3 truly innovates hashing beyond Merkle–Damgård constructions?

I have read a lot of high level stuff about the sponge / squeeze function, but I don’t understand how that is different than sha3’s predecessors, after all they all sort of soak up data and then squeeze out a digest of it. how is sha3 / keccak truly different?

also, is the math of sha3 something that would have been difficult 20 years ago? I just want to know in laymans terms (or at least in undergrad terms), how is sha3 innovative other than the fact that it names its process of digesting data a “sponge”?

submitted by /u/alexwagner74
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