Along with the Schnorr signature, Taproot is one of the most anticipated technological upgrades to Bitcoin since SegWit was introduced. Taproot’s goal is to change the way Bitcoin’s scripts work to improve privacy, scalability, and security. This and more will be accomplished by combining Taproot with a related upgrade known as Schnorr signatures.
Anyone familiar with the crypto community knows that privacy, scalability, and security are major concerns. Although Bitcoin is the most popular cryptocurrency in the world, these issues still need to be addressed. Taproot aims to do just that.
Bitcoin has had its ups and downs, but it has proven to be the anchor that keeps the cryptocurrency sentence afloat. Regardless of the problems that have emerged over the years, like Mt. Gox hack or infamous Bitcoin hard disk, the crypto community has stood Bitcoin.
But there are certain issues that can’t be ignored – one of the biggest is privacy. With Bitcoin being a public blockchain, anyone can track the transactions that happen on the network. For some, that’s a big concern.
Through techniques like coin mixing and CoinJoins, it is possible to increase your anonymity. Unfortunately, however, none of this makes Bitcoin a currency of its own. While that can’t be said for Taproot, it can help increase anonymity on the network.
The Taproot upgrade has been widely anticipated as an important first step towards addressing Bitcoin’s lack of privacy and other related concerns.
What is Taproot?
Taproot is a soft fork that improves Bitcoin’s scripts to increase privacy and improve other factors involved in complex transactions. Transactions on the Bitcoin network can use various features that make them more complex, including TimeLock issuance, multiple signature requests, and others.
Without Taproot, anyone can detect transactions using those complex functions, which requires creating many transactions. However, the Taproot upgrade will make it possible to “hide” all the moving parts of a Bitcoin transaction including these features. So even if transactions apply those features, they will be the same as a single transaction. For Bitcoin privacy advocates, this is a big win.
In fact, Taproot could hide the fact that a Bitcoin script was running. For example, spending Bitcoin with Taproot can render Lightning Network channel transactions, peer-to-peer transactions, or complex smart contracts indistinguishable. If you follow one of these transactions, you will see nothing but a peer-to-peer transaction. However, it is worth noting that this does not change the fact that the wallets of the first sender and the last recipient will be exposed.
In January 2018, the Taproot proposal was first announced by Bitcoin Core developer Greg Maxwell. As of October 2020, Taproot has been incorporated into the Bitcoin Core library following a pull request created by Pieter Wuille. For the upgrade to be fully implemented, node operators must adopt Taproot’s new consensus rules. Depending on how this goes, activation can take months.
Taproot is expected to be implemented along with another upgrade called Schnorr signature. Not only does this make the Taproot implementation possible, but it also enables a much-anticipated feature called signature aggregation.
What are Schnorr signatures?
Schnorr signatures include a cryptographic signature scheme developed by Claus Schnorr – a German mathematician and cryptographer. Although Schnorr has protected its algorithm under patents for many years, the patent officially expired in 2008. Among a number of benefits, Schnorr signatures are primarily known for their simplicity and efficiency. effective in generating short signatures.
The signature scheme adopted by Satoshi Nakamoto (the creator of Bitcoin) is the Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA). The choice of ECDSA over the Schnorr signature algorithm is because it is widely used, well understood, secure, compact, and open source.
However, the development of the Schnorr Digital Signature Scheme (SDSS) could be the starting point of a new generation of signatures for Bitcoin and other blockchain networks.
One of the main advantages of Schnorr signatures is that they can take multiple keys inside a complex Bitcoin transaction and generate a unique signature. This means that signatures from multiple parties to a transaction can be “aggregated” into a single Schnorr signature. This is called a signature set.
What benefits will Taproot bring to Bitcoin?
As we discussed, Taproot will bring major improvements to Bitcoin privacy. When combined with Schnorr signatures, Taproot can also increase the efficiency of transactions. In addition to enhanced privacy, other potential benefits include:
- Reduce the amount of data transferred and stored on the blockchain.
- More transactions per block (higher TPS rate).
- Lower transaction fees.
Another benefit to Taproot is the fact that the signature will no longer be malleable, which is a known security risk in the Bitcoin network. Simply put, signature malleability means that it is technically possible to change the signature of a transaction before it is confirmed. By doing this, the attack will make it appear as if the transaction never happened. This leaves Bitcoin with the infamous double-spending problem, which can damage the integrity of the distributed ledger.
Taproot is widely supported for Bitcoin and is a highly anticipated upgrade. If it is implemented with Schnorr signatures, we will see significant improvements in privacy, scalability, security and more. These upgrades could also generate more interest in the Lightning Network and encourage multisig to become a more industry standard.
Regardless of whether you join the Bitcoin community or not, the added benefits of improved privacy, efficiency, and security will likely impact your experience using Bitcoin.