What Schnorr Signatures Mean For Bitcoin

What Schnorr Signatures Mean For Bitcoin

Bitcoin allows owners to ascertain security over their assets by deriving a public key from a private key. The algorithm that enables this derivation is known as the Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA) that helps enforce the owners' rights.

The problem with this algorithm is that it is not easy to obtain a private key from a public key, but it is easy the other way round. With the private key, you can navigate the bitcoin network and receive bitcoins through the address you generated. Likewise, you can also transfer the bitcoin to another person with the help of the key.

However, there is an alternative algorithm you can use instead of ECDSA, known as the Schnorr signature. This article will make you understand what Schnorr's signature is all about and its advantages.

About Digital Signatures

The same way you can sign traditionally using a pen and a paper is the same way you can use a digital means, just that the latter's security is guaranteed. By dedicating time and effort, pen and paper signatures can be forged. However, this is not possible with a secure digital signature algorithm.

You can use a digital signature for many things, and many people usually use it to prove that they wrote a certain message. Likewise, creating a public key from a private one is possible using a secp256k1 curve to perform a little mathematics. Also, generating a public address from the public key is made possible.

Unlike a private key, you don't have to protect your public key from the public. You can even decide to include it in all your social media profiles to verify your identity. If you want to receive any crypto asset, you must send the public key to the sender. Creating a digital signature is possible using a private key. Any message you use your private key to write is a signed message, and verifying you are the source of the message is possible by comparing it with your public key.

Now, this is related to Bitcoin because whenever you make a transaction by sending bitcoin to another address, it means you are creating a digital signature indicating you as the sender. Such that you can only successfully send it to other nodes on the network after the ECDSA signature confirms your identity.

Meaning of Schnorr Signatures

If you understand how Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA) works, you will understand how Schnorr Signatures works, just that the latter is more advantageous. Surprisingly, it took too long to integrate Schnorr Signatures into bitcoin because it was in existence before the development of ECDSA.

The plausible explanation for this delay may be that the creator patented it. Although the patent expired before the launching of bitcoin in 2008, it lacks standardization. That is why the creator of bitcoin decided to use the standardized one, which is ECDSA that worked perfectly.

Advantages of Schnorr Signatures

One amazing quality that is not common to other schemes but Schnorr Signatures possess is Linearity which makes it possible to carry out certain activities. One activity that you cannot carry out easily with other schemes is a multi-signature transaction but made easy with Schnorr Signatures.

Although bitcoin supports multi-signature, it is not as simple as it seems. There is no need for anybody transferring funds to you to know what you intend to do with the inputs if you create a multi-sig address. Some people may not even know that the fund will go to a multi-signature account. Although the beginning of the addresses (all multi-sig addresses start with "3") are usually the same.

Revealing that you are using a multi-sig setup is inevitable when moving funds. For instance, assuming you are using a 3-of-3 setup along with two persons. Before you can spend or transfer from the funds, each of you needs to provide their valid signatures and public keys. So, anybody that takes a look at the transaction hash will know you used a multi-sig setup which is not great for those that like to keep things private. Also, creating a larger multi-signature will take up a lot of space on the Blockchain, which can be costly. The more the bytes in the transaction, the more expensive it is to carry out the transaction successfully.

However, with Schnorr Signatures, the issues regarding scalability and privacy are inexistent. Instead of the Blockchain showcasing multiple signatures with Schnorr Signatures, you can combine all of them to become one by using signature aggregation. So, you will have just one signature, which is just like a regular one and will save you a lot of money and space. Also, it is difficult for anyone to determine you used a multi-sig setup for your transactions easily. It is because you are using one master signature regardless of the number of people who co-signed the transaction.

There are many things to gain by implementing Schnorr Signatures into bitcoin, and improving the technologies in crypto is possible.

Implementation of Schnorr Signatures into Bitcoin

Schnorr Signatures is yet to be implemented into bitcoin, and it cannot be said with certainty when it will happen. Many upgrades to bitcoin took time before broad users of the bitcoin community accepted them; thus, the same thing applies to Schnorr Signatures. However, Tim Ruffing, Pieter Wullie, and Jonas Nick submitted a Bitcoin improvement proposal bill, and they all happen to be Bitcoin core contributors.

Although there is already a premise for the implementation and acceptance of Schnorr Signatures after Musig was released by Blockstream that makes signature and key aggregation possible, implementing Schnorr Signatures into the code will not result in the network splitting; instead, it will be an upgrade. Therefore, there is a huge possibility that Schnorr Signatures will soon find its way into the bitcoin community network, although it may take time.

Conclusion

Checking the recent roadmap of Bitcoin, Schnorr Signatures is one of the things that you should be anticipating mainly because it comes with many benefits. Implementing Schnorr Signatures into bitcoin will provide benefits like improved privacy and scalability. Also, it will serve as a premise for further improvements and implementations in bitcoin.