On Thursday, 3 April 2014, at 4:41 pm, Nikita Schmidt wrote:
I agree with the recently mentioned suggestion to make non-essential
metadata, namely key fingerprint and degree (M), optional. Their
4-byte and 1-byte fields can be added individually at an
implementation's discretion. During decoding, the total length will
determine which fields are included.
The fingerprint field, Hash16(K), is presently specified as a 16-bit field.
Rationale: There is no need to consume 4 bytes just to allow shares to be
grouped together. And if someone has more than 100 different secrets, they
probably have a good system for managing their shares and won't need the hash
Encoding for the testnet is not specified.
Hmm, is that actually needed?
Speaking of encoding, is it not wasteful to allocate three different
application/version bytes just for the sake of always starting with
'SS'? It would be OK if it were accepted as a BIP, but merely as a
de-facto standard it should aim at minimising future chances of
I agree on principle, however I think the more user-acceptable behavior is for
all base58-encoded Shamir shares to begin with a common prefix, such as SS.
Users are accustomed to relying on the prefix of the base58 encoding to
understand what the object is: 1 for mainnet pubkey hash, 3 for mainnet
script hash, 5 for uncompressed private key, P for passphrase-protected
private key, etc.
I'd add a clause allowing the use of random coefficients instead of
deterministic, as long as the implementation guarantees to never make
another set of shares for the same private key or master seed.
I'm not sure that's necessary, as this is an Informational BIP. Implementations
are free to ignore it. Shares with randomly selected coefficients would work
just fine in a share joiner that conforms to the BIP, so I would expect
implementors to feel free to ignore the deterministic formula and use randomly
What about using the same P256 prime as for the elliptic curve? Just
for consistency's sake.
The initial draft of this BIP used the cyclic order (n) of the generator point
on the secp256k1 elliptic curve as the modulus. The change to the present
scheme was actually done for consistency's sake, so all sizes of secret can use
a consistently defined modulus.
Also, I'm somewhat inclined towards using the actual x instead of j in
the encoding. I find it more direct and straightforward to encode the
pair (x, y). And x=0 can denote a special case for future extensions.
There is no technical reason behind this, it's just for (subjective)
clarity and consistency.
There is a technical reason for encoding j rather than x[j]: it allows for the
first 256 shares to be encoded, rather than only the first 255 shares.
If you want a sentinel value reserved for future extensions, then you might
take notice that 0x is an invalid key fingerprint, along with several other
values, and also that 0xFF is an unusable value of M−2, as that would imply
M=257, but the scheme can only encode up to 256 shares, so one would never have
enough shares to meet the threshold. I considered having the two optional
fields be mandatory and allowing 0x and 0xFF as redacted field values,
but I like allowing the shares to be shorter if the optional fields are
omitted. (Imagine engraving Shamir secret shares onto metal bars by hand with
an engraving tool. Fewer characters is better!)
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