On Fri, Sep 21, 2018 at 11:18 AM Andrew Kozlik via bitcoin-dev <
bitcoin-dev@lists.linuxfoundation.org> wrote:

> We are currently writing a new specification for splitting BIP-32 master
> seeds into multiple mnemonics using Shamir's secret sharing scheme. We
> would be interested in getting your feedback with regard to the
> high-level design of the new spec:
> https://github.com/satoshilabs/slips/blob/master/slip-0039.md
> Please focus your attention on the section entitled "Master secret
> derivation functions", which proposes several different solutions. Note
> that there is a Design Rationale section at the very end of the
> document, which should answer some of the questions you may have. The
> document is a work in progress and we are aware that some technical
> details have not been fully specified. These will be completed once the
> high level design has been settled.

I and a number of companies & communities I am involved with are very
interested in this.

A challenge is that Shamir Secret Sharing has subtleties. To quote Greg

> I think Shamir Secret Sharing (and a number of other things, RNGs for
example), suffer from a property where they are just complex enough that
people are excited to implement them often for little good reason, and then
they are complex enough (or have few enough reasons to invest significant
time) they implement them poorly”.

Some questions for you:

* What other teams or communities besides Trezor are committed to
standardizing a Shamir Secret Sharing Scheme? I can say that the
#RebootingWebOfTrust community (meeting again for the 7th time next week in
Toronto https://rwot7.eventbrite.com) are very interested.

* Where do you want to hold discussions on this? Do people object to having
this discussion on this mailing list? Or should it be issues in SLIPS repo
or on some other mailing list?

* Presuming a successful split of secrets, I don’t know all the adversarial
problems that are associated with recovery of a SSS. As this would be an
interactive event, I presume an attacker can DOS a request to reassemble
keys (so maybe some the of integrity of each share vs all is required). And
of course there are the biggest problems:  impersonation of a reassembly
request and a MitM of a reassembly request. Are there other attacks? Are
you trying to mitigate any of these?

Two comments:

* The Lightning Network community has added to their BIP32 mnemonics the
ability to have a birthday in the seed, to make it easier  to scan the
blockchain for keys, as well as a byte with some way to know how to derive
keys paths for it. I don’t seee a BOLT for this (it was mentioned in
 I would suggest that you also get some of their latest thoughts and
incorporate them.

* I worked with Chris Vickery while at Blockstrham on various possible ways
to improve mnemonic word lists. I’m not suggesting that you necessarily go
as far as we did to try to create a mnemonic that is iambic pentameter
poetry (inspired by
https://www.isi.edu/natural-language/mt/memorize-random-60.pdf), however,
we did find sources for words that are concrete (for example table is more
concrete than truth
) or have strong emotional valence attachment (truth is more emotional than
table), both of which make can words more memorable. I also found lists of
words that are hard to pronounce unless you are English native, and
eliminated them from my own list.

Among the results of this was a new BIP-39 2048 word compatible word list
filtered for memorability (concreteness & emotional valence) and
suitability for iambic pentameter, which is located:


…which was created from the repo at


You can a number of other word lists that I’ve collected here

If you want to replicate what we did with your own criteria, you may want
to incorporate information from the CMU dictitionary
http://www.speech.cs.cmu.edu/cgi-bin/cmudict, the top 5000 words
 concrete word lists
http://crr.ugent.be/papers/Concreteness_ratings_Brysbaert_et_al_BRM.txt and
emotional words  (valence) http://crr.ugent.be/archives/1003

— Christopher Allen
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