Verify the blockchain faster with GLV Endomorphism

The patent on the so-called GLV Endomorphism, a cryptographic method with which digital signatures on the blockchain can be verified more efficiently, recently expired. Bitcoin full nodes can achieve more than 25% speed gain in synchronizing the blockchain. In 2008, Bitcoin legend Hal Finney already saw the benefits, but now that the patent has expired, it can finally be activated in the Bitcoin Core software.

There are several ways to use Bitcoin, but if you want maximum control and minimize trust in others then running a full node is essential. Full nodes check the entire transaction history of the blockchain to ensure that everything is correct.

However, that is no small task. The blockchain is already over 650,000 blocks in size and Bitcoin miners add a new block with transactions about every ten minutes. The verification of blocks by full nodes is simpler and faster than the mining process, but since there are now almost twelve years worth of blocks with transactions to verify, this also costs quite a bit of processing power and time. Depending on the hardware, a complete synchronization of a Bitcoin full node can take just a few weeks.

However, it can be done a lot more efficiently with the help of GLV Endomorphism. This is a cryptographic method that requires less processing power to verify digital signatures of transactions. That translates into speed gains for existing full nodes and lower hardware requirements for new ones. The latter is especially good because it keeps the network accessible to a wide audience and helps prevent centralization around high-end server parks.

GLV Endomorphism

GLV Endomorphism is named after the inventors Gallant, Lambert and Vanstone and the technique has been around for more than twenty years. Bitcoin pioneer Hal Finney wrote in 2008 about its benefits for Bitcoin. He estimated the speed gain at the time to be about 25%.

However, GLV Endomorphism had been patented since 1999, so it could not be used in the Bitcoin Core software for years. Now that the patent has finally expired, you can.

In the meantime, a lot has been tested and worked on the implementation over the years. Since a lot of preliminary work has already been done, the activation of GLV Endomorphism in Bitcoin Core will probably not be very long in coming.

Bitcoin developer Jameson Lopp anticipated the process and recently conducted four tests with encouraging results. He indicated that a complete synchronization of the blockchain using GLV Endomorphism is 28% faster in his case.

When GLV Endomorphism will be enabled by default in Bitcoin Core so that everyone can use it is not yet known, but it seems that it could happen in the near future.

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