Category Archives: bulletproofs

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Bulletproofs Have Reduced Monero Transaction Fees by Over 95%

Monero, the #1 privacy coin with a market cap of USD 1.7 billion, has implemented bulletproofs. Bulletproofs are a scalability solution which drastically reduce the size of Monero transactions. The transaction fee for Monero has dropped from an average range of USD 0.50-0.70 to USD 0.02, a more than 95% decrease. Further, block size has dropped from 100 kb to 15 kb.

Before bulletproofs, Monero used range proofs. The purpose of range proofs is to ensure that inputs and outputs are balanced in a way that can be verified by anyone, and also that they are positive numbers within a set range that do not cause an overflow. Range proofs allow users to verify that a value is within a set range without revealing its value, which is essential due to the privacy oriented nature of Monero. However, range proofs scale linearly with the number of outputs and number of bits in the range, and multiple outputs need multiple separate range proofs, which caused range proofs to take up most of the space in a Monero transaction.

Bulletproof size increases logarithmically with the size of the range and number of outputs, versus linearly with range proofs. This means bulletproofs take up much less space, which drastically reduces the overall size of a Monero transaction. For example, a transaction sent with range proofs is 13.2 KB, while the same transaction sent with bulletproofs is only 2.5 KB. This 80% reduction in space corresponds directly to an 80% reduction in transaction fees theoretically, although the data from Monero shows that the reduction is actually more than 95%.

There are two types of bulletproofs, single output and multiple output. For now, Monero is just using single output, since an attacker could pack a transaction with many outputs and still maintain a small overall transaction size, and therefore pay low fees. Despite the small size and low fees, this sort of transaction would be computationally expensive, and an attacker could spam Monero’s network and effectively launch a denial of service attack with this exploit. To counter this, Monero developers are going to change fee structure so that it takes into account more than just the transaction size, but the discussions and testing for this are not done yet. Once multiple output bulletproofs are properly implemented, Monero transaction size and fees will drop even more.

This step to adopt bulletproofs is actually essential, since Monero’s transaction fees during December 2017 spiked to USD 20, which inhibits the use of Monero as a currency. Bulletproofs will ensure that Monero will not see a fee crisis even if transaction volumes return to December 2017 levels. Further, even the USD 0.50-0.70 fee that Monero had stabilized at could still inhibit the use of Monero, and it is far more ideal for fees to be near zero like they are now after the implementation of bulletproofs.

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Mathematician Trailblazing for Bitcoin Privacy with “Scriptless Scripts”

Mathematician Andrew Poelstra is working on a system whereby Bitcoin users will be able to enjoy increased privacy.

Poelstra feels that companies have now become completely intrusive, delving into to the lives of users who wish for a certain degree of anonymity as they use the blockchain; data is shared and sold on with no benefit whatsoever to the owner. Cases in point being Facebook and Instagram, to name just two of the numerous companies in cyberspace sharing unowned data.

Polestra has been looking at the trails that such data leaves as it winds its way through cyberspace, as he feels this is the key to his passionate research:

“Those trails that no one thinks about, I wish that they weren’t there… I would hope I’m not leaving one and I would hope that no one that I love is leaving one. That’s who I’m working for.”

Speaking during a panel at CoinDesk’s Consensus 2018 conference, he suggested that it was others that he was concerned about, friends and family, and why he had taken up the challenge of coming up with a solution he calls “scriptless scripts”.

He suggested that crypto project ‘MimbleWimble’, with its heightened scalability and privacy advantages, could be superseded with something far more effective, offering enhanced privacy to users. Scriptless scripts could improve the privacy of Bitcoin Lightning Network payments, no longer needing “to publish to the world all the details of your payment channels”.

Polestra says that a new technology pioneered by Bitcoin developer Pieter Wuille with support from himself and requiring Schnorr signatures is very close to being released. However, to make the technology totally functional in helping to reduce cyber trails and enhance privacy it will need to be linked to other technology.

Such technology, he suggested, might include Greg Maxwell’s Taproot which would add privacy to the extent that people so people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between on-chain and Lightning’s off-chain transactions, making all Bitcoin transactions look the same.

Another privacy issue that Polestra has been working on, such as confidentiality, has led him to a way of shielding user balances called “bulletproofs”. These decrease the size of confidential transaction tech, further enhancing the ability to hide user balances.

There are still improvements clearly needed to enhance and ultimately solve Bitcoin privacy issues, such as shielding sender and receiver information, which is still traceable, and that at present has no solution.

Developers continue to look at these issues in order to make the blockchain a “trail-less” environment, but this keen young mathematician has already made significant inroads.


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