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Bitcoin Stack Exchange is one of the first places Optech contributors look for answers to their questions-or when we have a few spare moments of time to help curious or confused users. Onchain, these look identical to single pubkeys and signatures but the public keys and signatures are generated by a set of private keys using a multi-step protocol. Examples of this are Chain.com’s APIs and Coinbase’s Toshi for Bitcoin. The blockchain technology behind bitcoin isn’t just going to change financial industry. It’s going to revolutionize everything from contracts to voting through the construction of internet applications. But, what exactly are the components of these of applications? Several internal API changes are also made. Notable changes this week in Bitcoin Core, LND, C-Lightning, Eclair, libsecp256k1, and Bitcoin Improvement Proposals (BIPs). This week’s newsletter describes the availability of a libsecp256k1 fork implementing BIP-Schnorr compatible signatures, lists popular questions and answers for February from the Bitcoin Stack Exchange, and describes notable merges in popular Bitcoin infrastructure projects.
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In this monthly feature, we highlight some of the top voted questions and answers made since our last update. The “btc” value allows up to 11 decimal places and the “sat” value up to 3 decimal places but, in both cases, the last three of these places must be zeroes for onchain operations where the extra precision isn’t supported by the Bitcoin protocol. This can often improve the privacy and efficiency of the onchain parts of protocols by removing the need for including special data onchain, such as the current use of hashes and hashlocks in atomic swaps and LN payment commitments. Using a multi-step protocol, Alice can prove to Bob that her final signature for spending a certain payment will reveal to him a value that will satisfy some specified condition. For example, that value could be another signature that will allow Bob himself to claim a certain other payment, such as an atomic swap or an LN payment commitment. The potential of decentralized protocols is that they can “undo every single part of the stacks that make these services valuable to consumers and investors.” For example, a common and decentralized data set could be created to allow for peer-to-peer-transactions that are powered by bitcoin.
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External addresses are those you give to other people so that they can pay you; internal addresses are those you include in your own transactions for receiving change. Several RPCs related to payments receive a minconf parameter that defaults to 1 but can be set to 0 to continue the old behavior or set to a higher value if desired. This fixes a problem where the wallet would attempt to spend its own unconfirmed change outputs but those payments would sometimes get stuck because the earlier payments weren’t confirming quickly. By giving the auditor the extended public key (xpub) for just the external addresses, he can track your received payments but still not receive any direct information about your spending or current balance via the change addresses. Pieter Wuille explains that BIP32, upon which BIP44 is based, encourages using separate derivation paths for these keys in case you need to prove to an auditor how much money you’ve received but not how much money you’ve spent (or have left).
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● Why does BIP44 have internal and external addresses? As we’ve previously discussed, you’ll have to invest in a mining system and handle transaction fees. Mining is the process of adding transaction records to Bitcoin’s public ledger of past transactions. Whereas multisig using current Bitcoin Script requires n pubkeys and k signatures for k-of-n multisig security, MuSig can provide the same security using just one public key and one signature-reducing block chain space, improving verification efficiency, increasing privacy, and allowing much larger sets of signers than supported by Bitcoin Script’s current byte-size and signature-operation limits. Sidechains, which are “private or public networks that may or may not be based on the Bitcoin protocol,” are an example of overlay networks. ● Taproot and scriptless scripts both use Schnorr, but how are they different? ● How much of block propagation time is used in verification? Gregory Maxwell explains that it’s probably closer to 0% than 1% for the normal case, but that it can be much larger for a worst case block that was specifically constructed to take a long time to verify. In separate answers, Gregory Maxwell and Andrew Chow each describe the differences between these two proposed uses of Schnorr-based signatures.