[Bitcoin-development] Bitcoin addresses -- opaque or not

Luke-Jr luke at dashjr.org
Tue Jun 11 15:29:11 UTC 2013

On Tuesday, June 11, 2013 1:11:33 PM Melvin Carvalho wrote:
> For the sake of argument let's say that opaque means that you can tell
> nothing about the address by examining the characters.

This is true or false based on CONTEXT.

Obviously, an implementation of transaction handling (eg, wallets) needs to be 
able to translate addresses to and from what they represent.

On the other hand, things like URI handlers do not (and should not) try to 
interpret the address as anything other than an arbitrary word (\w+).

> My understanding was that they are NOT opaque, and that if that has
> changed, it will invalidate much at least some wiki page, for examples at
> least some of the following would now be false:

The wiki goes into much detail on how addresses work, which is not the concern 
of most software in the Bitcoin ecosystem, but may be of interest to humans 
and developers working on the one component that operates the "black box" that 
addresses are.

> --------
> <snip>
> --------

These aren't FALSE, they are "true at the moment, but subject to revision by 
newer standards".

> I also here that there is a LIKELY change from the base58 encoding ... when
> was this established?

I stated (on IRC) that it was likely Bitcoin would change from the base58 
encoding for addresses ... at some unspecified time in the future, to some 
unspecified new encoding that addressed known limitations of base58. What 
those changes will be, or when, are not all established at this time. The only 
currently-planned change to addresses (very loosely defined) is inclusion of 
the Payment Protocol URIs. But the point is that software developers shouldn't 
assume that addresses will remain base58 forever.


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