Pieter Wuille Unveils Two ‘Taproot’ Proposals For Upcoming Bitcoin Privacy Soft Fork

Blockchain developer Pieter Wuille unveiled two Bitcoin Improvement Proposal (BIP) that offers new plans for bitcoin’s next big upgrade or “soft fork.”

The two proposals, announced on the bitcoin developer email list, describes Taproot, a  code change increasing bitcoin’s privacy. Taproot is expected to be bundled into a Schnorr soft fork that developers have been looking into for quite some time, paving the way for privacy and scalability improvements to bitcoin.

Developers have long been thinking about how to arrange this particular upgrade. There have been a number of proposed changes to bitcoin over the years and, as they are all related, it makes sense to implement them together in one fell swoop. That includes Merkelized Abstract Syntax Trees (MAST), adding, improved bitcoin smart contracts, Schnorr signatures, which adds another way to sign bitcoin transactions, and Taproot, which adds even better privacy.

This pair of Taproot proposals, available on Github, mean the pieces are finally starting to come together.

It’s important that these technical details are now public, because more developers in the community can look at them and see if they agree with the changes. If the community agrees these changes are the right ones to make, then the change could finally go live after being put together over several years.

Notably, some think this will be less controversial than bitcoin’s last soft fork activating Segregated Witness (SegWit). “Bitcoin cash” developers, those who split off from bitcoin because they didn’t agree with the code change, actually really like Schnorr. In fact, they implementing a similar technology in just a little over a week.

For a bit more detail, Wuille’s first BIP describes a “new SegWit version 1 output type, with spending rules based on Taproot, Schnorr signatures, and Merkle branches.”

The BIP primarily describes the timing and methodology to be used for this next upgrade and will include the popular Taproot and Schnorr upgrades to be rolled out while “not adding any new strong security assumptions and “not combining into the proposal any functionality which could be simply implemented independently,” wrote Wuille.

While the second describes “the semantics of the initial scripting system under bip-taproot.”

Wuille added in his email announcing the BIPs that while proposal includes Schnorr, MAST, and Taproot, one other much-anticipated feature will probably not make it in this time around:

“While many other ideas exist, not everything is incorporated. This includes several ideas that can be implemented separately without loss of effectiveness. One such idea is a way to integrate SIGHASH_NOINPUT, which we’re working on as an independent proposal.”

Wuille image via CoinDesk archives

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Source: Coindesk