> On Sep 18, 2017, at 8:09 PM, Luke Dashjr <l...@dashjr.org> wrote:
> On Tuesday 19 September 2017 12:46:30 AM Mark Friedenbach via bitcoin-dev 
> wrote:
>> After the main discussion session it was observed that tail-call semantics
>> could still be maintained if the alt stack is used for transferring
>> arguments to the policy script.
> Isn't this a bug in the cleanstack rule?

Well in the sense that "cleanstack" doesn't do what it says, sure.

However cleanstack was introduced as a consensus rule to prevent a
possible denial of service vulnerability where a third party could
intercept any* transaction broadcast and arbitrarily add data to the
witness stack, since witness data is not covered by a checksig.

Cleanstack as-is accomplishes this because any extra items on the
stack would pass through all realistic scripts, remaining on the stack
and thereby violating the rule. There is no reason to prohibit extra
items on the altstack as those items can only arrive there
purposefully as an action of the script itself, not a third party
malleation of witness data. You could of course use DEPTH to write a
script that takes a variable number of parameters and sends them to
the altstack. Such a script would be malleable if those extra
parameters are not used. But that is predicated on the script being
specifically written in such a way as to be vulnerable; why protect
against that?

There are other solutions to this problem that could have been taken
instead, such as committing to the number of items or maximum size of
the stack as part of the sighash data, but cleanstack was the approach
taken. Arguably for a future script version upgrade one of these other
approaches should be taken to allow for shorter tail-call scripts.


* Well, almost any. You could end the script with DEPTH EQUAL and that
  is a compact way of ensuring the stack is clean (assuming the script
  finished with just "true" on the stack). Nobody does this however
  and burning two witness bytes of every redeem script going forward
  as a protective measure seems like an unnecessary ask.
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