Schnorr, the bitcoin upgrade is set to be Bitcoin’s biggest upgrade in a while. Last week, developer Pieter Wuille unveiled a draft outlining the technical makeup of this upgrade. With this release, the idea that has been in the minds of crypto developers for a while is a step closer to coming to fruition and improving the privacy and scaling of Bitcoin.
It is said to be Bitcoin’s biggest change since Segregated Witness(SegWit) which was a pivotal bug fix.
So What is Schnorr? It is a digital signature scheme and at a technical level, this will give Bitcoin users a new way to generate the cryptographic keys that are required to send and store the cryptocurrency. It also allows tackling other problems such as Bitcoin’s privacy and scalability which have been stated as major issues.
Wuille stated that Schnorr is to be viewed as a building block for a variety of improvements. This indicates that there are some further improvements that haven’t been paid much attention yet. Wuille also hopes that this change will be universally adopted by all but states that ultimately it is up to the users, just as it was in the case of SegWit.
The technical and math-heavy proposal for Schnorr is co-authored by some of the biggest bitcoin developers such as Johnson Lau, Bitcoin core contributor and Gregory Maxwell. Jonas Nick, the blockstream engineer and co-author said,
Standardizing Schnorr for bitcoin is a big step towards using it in bitcoin
While the entire proposal is highly technical, it mainly describes the math required to produce Schnorr signatures that provide an alternate option to Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA), the only algorithm available to produce keys and verify transactions in bitcoin at present. However, if accepted Schnorr will use the same mathematical ‘curve’ that its competitor, ECDSA uses to produce the keys.
Because of its highly technical nature, the proposal has sparked discussion among bitcoin experts. However, most of them seem to be optimistic about Schnorr, especially because its security can actually be proved mathematically, unlike that of ECDSA.
Nick also stated that Schnorr will lower the transaction costs of advanced transactions. With all this being said, there is still a lot of development and implementation to do if this bill is accepted. That is why Wuille says that they are taking a step-by-step procedure towards upgrading Bitcoin.
If accepted, Wuille stated that there will be a lot of consensus changes
Like any consensus change, it will be a long process involving fully fleshing out a draft for integration, publishing it, gathering comments from the technical community and ecosystem, writing implementations of both consensus rules and integration in wallet software, proposing a deployment plan, and if all goes well, get it activated
Although every day there are changes to bitcoin, Schnorr is a particularly big upgrade.
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