The rallying cry, “to the moon” a cryptocurrency term which is often used when the price of the coin starts to take a climb, however, recently this term is being used to depict the excitement of the investors as well, who are positive of the progress that has been made on the Bitcoin code optimization.
This technology is known as Schnorr signature which is said to replace the current signature of Bitcoin and has been in development since 2012. But what’s the hype of this technology? It is said that it will be able to reduce the high fees of the bitcoins, along with resolving the backlogs of the transactions, which in turn will help to clear the space of the Blockchain, by approximately 25 to 30 percent capacity.
Yannick Seurin has been working on this technology and is also a cryptographer at French cybersecurity agency ANSSI said that,
“Schnorr signatures and the applications they enable generate high hopes. As evidenced by the recent scaling debate, any efficiency improvement is highly beneficial to bitcoin.”
Of course, Schnorr is just not the first technology that has been in highlight. Before this, there were a peer-to-peer optimization, FIBRE network technology and also Lightning Network that were very ambitious. However, the focus on Schnorr is because of its Segregated Witness (SegWit) that will be activated on Bitcoin, improvement in the privacy of the transactions, along with reducing spam.
The excitement for Schnorr at present, despite being in development since 2012 is peculiar. But the delays in the technology and the slow growth is because of the lack of both developers and cryptographers, as well as, the requirement of extensive peer review and testing.
Pieter Wuille, bitcoin contributor, and Blockstream co-founder reported that Schnorr went through a lot of “non-obvious challenges”, and one of them was a rogue attack that it went through the last year while the implementation of Schnorr. This led to a launch of paper that summarized the possible fix.
But the paper was rejected by the academy to whom it was submitted that asked for a better one, which led to the involvement of Wuille, “I noticed that the specific signature aggregation scheme they were thinking of didn’t have a proper security analysis at the time,” he said. “As provable security is my specific research area, and I previously worked on Schnorr signatures, I contacted Pieter Wuille.”
Seurin received the updated paper from Wuille which had a better solution and secure construction to the problem.
However, even after solving this problem another one occurred wherein an attack vector was found by Blockstream engineer Russell O’Connor, that enabled the stealing of the Bitcoins that were transacted with the signature theme. Wuille responded to the attack by saying, “So something to learn about this, at least for myself, is that attack models in multi-party schemes can be very subtle. This was not at all obvious.”
Implementation and Political Impact
Even though the attack vendors have been resolved, there is still a lot of work and effort left. Wuille told that there are many Bitcoin Improvement Proposals (BIPs) in work, which after the completion will provide a blueprint for the functioning of the new signatures.
Code implementation takes a long time because of fuzz testing as well, which involves testing the code through random data to check if the output is correct or not.
Jonas Nick said, “Since you do that many hundreds of times per second on many cores for an extended period of time, [fuzz testing] has historically a good track record of finding subtle bugs. We haven’t found an issue, yet strengthening our confidence in the implementation.” To which Wuille said that then implementation of Schnorr code shouldn’t take that long, however, one cannot ignore the political implication.
One cannot ignore all the hype Schnorr is getting and even after spending billions of dollars there is any mess in the code then the developers and investors will be hesitant to add the code to the Blockchain space that quickly.
There are many contributors who said that Schnorr might take a little time, for instance, Wuille concluded, “I would like to see what we’ve been working on here merged into bitcoin, but that’s a lengthy process.”