Bitcoin Continues Evolving in the Right Direction With Taproot and the Schnorr’s Signatures
These improvement proposals are important for the future of Bitcoin.
Bitcoin belongs to all its users. The source code of the Bitcoin Blockchain is open source and its developments are made by developers who strongly believe in the potential of Bitcoin to build a better world for all in the future.
The absence of a leader at the head of Bitcoin is an essential advantage to guarantee its fully democratic side. The absence of a leader making arbitrary decisions about the future of Bitcoin requires the Bitcoin Core developer community to work in a well-organized way to evolve the Bitcoin source code.
In the well-defined process of Bitcoin source code evolution, one of the final steps before the Bitcoin Core software fork is the publication of changes as Bitcoin Improvement Proposals (BIP).
After several months of work, the Bitcoin Core source code evolutions incorporating Taproot and the Schnorr’s signatures have just been proposed as BIP 340, 341 and 342.
In this story, I will tell you about these evolutions that should be integrated into Bitcoin Core in the near future and explain why they are proposed and why they are going in the right direction for the future of Bitcoin.
What Is a Schnorr Signature?
A Schnorr signature is a digital signature produced by the Schnorr signature algorithm which was invented by Claus Schnorr in 1989. It is a digital signature scheme known for its simplicity.
Schnorr signature algorithm provides efficient and short signatures.
This algorithm is one of the first whose security was based on the intractability of certain discrete logarithm problems.
Many consider Schnorr signature to be among the best cryptographic signatures available.
Schnorr signature algorithm was protected by U.S. Patent 4995082A until now.
This explains why Satoshi Nakamoto chose to use ECDSA (Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm) signatures for key management in the Bitcoin Blockchain.
As the patent protecting the use of Schnorr signatures has just expired, their use has now fallen into the public domain.
This prompted developers Pieter Wuille, Jonas Nick and Anthony Towns to look into its implementation within the Bitcoin Blockchain.
Schnorr Signatures Will Make the Bitcoin Blockchain More Efficient
Following this BIP regarding the integration of Schnorr signatures into Bitcoin, the developer community will now take the time to study the source code and engage in more concrete discussions with a view to making it available on the Bitcoin network via a soft fork.
Schnorr signatures will globally reduce the size of the transactions on the Bitcoin Blockchain.
In addition to this reduction, the integration of the Schnorr algorithm should make it possible to reduce the number of signatures required in specific complex cases equivalent to “smart contracts”.
Furthermore, the Schnorr algorithm should pave the way for batch validation of all signatures in a block of transactions. This will make this validation faster.
Finally, Schnorr signatures must make specific things possible, such as simple atomic swaps via adaptor signatures.
To put it simply, Schnorr signatures go in the direction of improving the scalability of the Bitcoin Blockchain as well as its security.
Taproot Improves Bitcoin Privacy
Taproot is an enhancement to Script, which is the language for programming conditions in Bitcoin transactions. Its implementation within Bitcoin Core would bring several notable improvements to the network.
Taproot first of all makes it possible to include only the conditions realized in a transaction.
Unfulfilled conditions would no longer need to be included in the Bitcoin Blockchain, again reducing the size of transactions.
Furthermore, Taproot would improve privacy on the Bitcoin Blockchain.
Currently, within the Bitcoin Blockchain, each transaction completed reveals a certain amount of information:
- Amounts committed.
- Bitcoin addresses of the sender and recipient.
- The type of transaction: single payment, multisig, atomic swap, opening of a payment channel with the Lightning Network, …
By hiding the unfulfilled conditions of a transaction, Taproot will make the executed scripts indistinguishable from each other.
Taproot therefore takes care to prevent that by using the type of a transaction, it is possible to deduce information about what users have done.
With Taproot, a Bitcoin transaction will look like a simple public key among many others and therefore a simple signature on the Bitcoin Blockchain.
A number of extension mechanisms are also included with Taproot to make future changes to the Bitcoin scripting language easier.
Adding opcodes for example will be relatively simple in the future.
Bitcoin Continues to Improve Privacy and Efficiency
The evolution of Bitcoin may seem long to some people. However, it is a small price to pay to have a totally open Blockchain that is permissionless and trustless.
Everyone can contribute to Bitcoin and participate in its evolution.
It is an undeniable strength of Bitcoin that requires excellent organization and consensus within the community to validate the evolutions that will be integrated into the Bitcoin Blockchain.
When evolutions need to be integrated, it is also necessary to make sure that they work well so as not to harm the proper functioning of Bitcoin Blockchain.
Maintaining a great quality takes time but the most important thing is that Bitcoin keeps moving block after block in the right direction.
In the coming weeks and months, the Bitcoin Core developer community will discuss BIP supporting Taproot integration and the Schnorr’s signatures.
After various feedback, the likely integration of these changes will be done via a software fork of Bitcoin.
Ultimately, Taproot and the Schnorr’s signatures will enable Bitcoin to improve privacy and efficiency, which will also result in greater scalability.
These developments in Bitcoin will also help to silence criticism from Bitcoin’s competitors in the cryptocurrency industry claiming that Bitcoin’s technology is outdated and no longer evolving.