[bitcoin-dev] BIP 174 thoughts

matejcik jan.matejek at satoshilabs.com
Wed Jun 27 14:04:06 UTC 2018


On 26.6.2018 22:30, Pieter Wuille wrote:
>> (Moreover, as I wrote previously, the Combiner seems like a weirdly
>> placed role. I still don't see its significance and why is it important
>> to correctly combine PSBTs by agents that don't understand them. If you
>> have a usecase in mind, please explain.
> Forward compatibility with new script types. A transaction may spend
> inputs from different outputs, with different script types. Perhaps
> some of these are highly specialized things only implemented by some
> software (say HTLCs of a particular structure), in non-overlapping
> ways where no piece of software can handle all scripts involved in a
> single transaction. If Combiners cannot deal with unknown fields, they
> won't be able to deal with unknown scripts.

Record-based Combiners *can* deal with unknown fields. Either by
including both versions, or by including one selected at random. This is
the same in k-v model.

> combining must be done independently by Combiner implementations for
> each script type involved. As this is easily avoided by adding a
> slight bit of structure (parts of the fields that need to be unique -
> "keys"), this seems the preferable option.

IIUC, you're proposing a "semi-smart Combiner" that understands and
processes some fields but not others? That doesn't seem to change
things. Either the "dumb" combiner throws data away before the "smart"
one sees it, or it needs to include all of it anyway.

> No, a Combiner can pick any of the values in case different PSBTs have
> different values for the same key. That's the point: by having a
> key-value structure the choice of fields can be made such that
> Combiners don't need to care about the contents. Finalizers do need to
> understand the contents, but they only operate once at the end.
> Combiners may be involved in any PSBT passing from one entity to
> another.

Yes. Combiners don't need to care about the contents.
So why is it important that a Combiner properly de-duplicates the case
where keys are the same but values are different? This is a job that,
AFAICT so far, can be safely left to someone along the chain who
understands that particular record.

Say we have field F(key,value), and several Signers produce F(1,1),
F(1,2), F(1,3).

A key-based Combiner will pick exactly one to pass along. A record-based
Combiner will pass all three.

It seems that you consider the latter PSBT "invalid". But it is well
formed and doesn't contain duplicate records. A Finalizer, or a
different Combiner that understands field F, can as well have the rule
"throw away all but one" for this case.

To repeat and restate my central question:
Why is it important, that an agent which doesn't understand a particular
field structure, can nevertheless make decisions about its inclusion or
omission from the result (based on a repeated prefix)?

Actually, I can imagine the opposite: having fields with same "key"
(identifying data), and wanting to combine their "values" intelligently
without losing any of the data. Say, two Signers producing separate
parts of a combined-signature under the same common public key?

> In case of BIP32 derivation, computing the pubkeys is possibly
> expensive. A simple signer can choose to just sign with whatever keys
> are present, but they're not the only way to implement a signer, and
> even less the only software interacting with this format. Others may
> want to use a matching approach to find keys that are relevant;
> without pubkeys in the format, they're forced to perform derivations
> for all keys present.

I'm going to search for relevant keys by comparing master fingerprint; I
would expect HWWs generally don't have index based on leaf pubkeys.
OTOH, Signers with lots of keys probably aren't resource-constrained and
can do the derivations in case of collisions.

Also, you need to do the derivation and checking anyway, because what if
there is a mismatch between the key and the value?

I liked @achow101's idea about supporting non-derived keys, but I
assumed that you would match them based on the master fingerprint too?

I wouldn't be against including the full master public key (probably
without chaincode) instead of the fingerprint, as you proposed earlier.
But including both the leaf pubkey and the fingerprint seems weird.

> If you take the records model, and then additionally drop the
> whole-record uniqueness constraint, yes, though that seems pushing it
> a bit by moving even more guarantees from the file format to
> application level code.

The "file format" makes no guarantees, because the parsing code and
application code is the same anyway. You could say I'm proposing to
separate these concerns ;)


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