ZIP 0143

ZIP: 143
Title: Transaction Signature Verification for Overwinter
Author: Jack Grigg <>
        Daira Hopwood <>
Credits: Johnson Lau <>
         Pieter Wuille <>
Category: Consensus
Created: 2017-12-27
License: MIT


The key words “MUST” and “MUST NOT” in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119. [1]

The terms “branch” and “network upgrade” in this document are to be interpreted as described in ZIP 200. [10]

The term “Overwinter” in this document is to be interpreted as described in ZIP 201. [11]


This proposal defines a new transaction digest algorithm for signature verification from the Overwinter network upgrade, in order to minimize redundant data hashing in verification, and to cover the input value by the signature.


There are 4 ECDSA signature verification codes in the original Zcash script system: CHECKSIG, CHECKSIGVERIFY, CHECKMULTISIG, CHECKMULTISIGVERIFY (“sigops”). According to the sighash type (ALL, NONE, or SINGLE, possibly modified by ANYONECANPAY), a transaction digest is generated with a double SHA256 of a serialized subset of the transaction, and the signature is verified against this digest with a given public key. The detailed procedure is described in a Bitcoin Wiki article. [2] The transaction digest is additionally used for the JoinSplit signature (solely with sighash type ALL). [3]

Unfortunately, there are at least 2 weaknesses in the original SignatureHash transaction digest algorithm:

  • For the verification of each signature, the amount of data hashing is proportional to the size of the transaction. Therefore, data hashing grows in O(n2) as the number of sigops in a transaction increases. While a 1 MB block would normally take 2 seconds to verify with an average computer in 2015, a 1MB transaction with 5569 sigops may take 25 seconds to verify. This could be fixed by optimizing the digest algorithm by introducing some reusable “midstate”, so the time complexity becomes O(n). [4]
  • The algorithm does not involve the value being spent by the input. This is usually not a problem for online network nodes as they could request for the specified transaction to acquire the output value. For an offline transaction signing device (“cold wallet”), however, the lack of knowledge of input amount makes it impossible to calculate the exact amount being spent and the transaction fee. To cope with this problem a cold wallet must also acquire the full transaction being spent, which could be a big obstacle in the implementation of a lightweight, air-gapped wallet. By including the input value of part of the transaction digest, a cold wallet may safely sign a transaction by learning the value from an untrusted source. In the case that a wrong value is provided and signed, the signature would be invalid and no funds would be lost. [5]

Deploying the aforementioned fixes in the original script system is not a simple task.


A new transaction digest algorithm is defined:

BLAKE2b-256 hash of the serialization of:
  1. header of the transaction (4-byte little endian)
  2. nVersionGroupId of the transaction (4-byte little endian)
  3. hashPrevouts (32-byte hash)
  4. hashSequence (32-byte hash)
  5. hashOutputs (32-byte hash)
  6. hashJoinSplits (32-byte hash)
  7. nLockTime of the transaction (4-byte little endian)
  8. nExpiryHeight of the transaction (4-byte little endian)
  9. sighash type of the signature (4-byte little endian)
 10. If we are serializing an input (i.e. this is not a JoinSplit signature hash):
     a. outpoint (32-byte hash + 4-byte little endian)
     b. scriptCode of the input (serialized as scripts inside CTxOuts)
     c. value of the output spent by this input (8-byte little endian)
     d. nSequence of the input (4-byte little endian)

The new algorithm is based on the Bitcoin transaction digest algorithm defined in BIP 143, [6] with replay protection inspired by BUIP-HF v1.2. [7]

The new algorithm MUST be used for signatures created over the Overwinter transaction format. [12] Combined with the new consensus rule that v1 and v2 transaction formats will be invalid from the Overwinter upgrade, [12] this effectively means that all transaction signatures from the Overwinter activation height will use the new algorithm. [11]

The BLAKE2b-256 personalization field [8] is set to:


CONSENSUS_BRANCH_ID is the little-endian encoding of BRANCH_ID for the epoch of the block containing the transaction. [10] Domain separation of the signature hash across parallel branches provides replay protection: transactions targeted for one branch will have invalid signatures on other branches.

Transaction creators MUST specify the epoch they want their transaction to be mined in. Across a network upgrade, this means that if a transaction is not mined before the activation height, it will never be mined.

Semantics of the original sighash types remain unchanged, except the following:

  1. The serialization format is changed;
  2. All sighash types commit to the amount being spent by the signed input;
  3. SINGLE does not commit to the input index. When ANYONECANPAY is not set, the semantics are unchanged since hashPrevouts and outpoint together implicitly commit to the input index. When SINGLE is used with ANYONECANPAY, omission of the index commitment allows permutation of the input-output pairs, as long as each pair is located at an equivalent index.

Field definitions

The items 7, 9, 10a, 10d have the same meaning as the original algorithm from Bitcoin. [2]

2: nVersionGroupId

Provides domain separation of nVersion. It is only defined if fOverwintered is set, which means that it is always defined for transactions that use this algorithm. [12]

3: hashPrevouts

  • If the ANYONECANPAY flag is not set, hashPrevouts is the BLAKE2b-256 hash of the serialization of all input outpoints;
    • The BLAKE2b-256 personalization field is set to ZcashPrevoutHash.
  • Otherwise, hashPrevouts is a uint256 of 0x0000......0000.

4: hashSequence

  • If none of the ANYONECANPAY, SINGLE, NONE sighash type is set, hashSequence is the BLAKE2b-256 hash of the serialization of nSequence of all inputs;
    • The BLAKE2b-256 personalization field is set to ZcashSequencHash.
  • Otherwise, hashSequence is a uint256 of 0x0000......0000.

5: hashOutputs

  • If the sighash type is neither SINGLE nor NONE, hashOutputs is the BLAKE2b-256 hash of the serialization of all output amount (8-byte little endian) with scriptPubKey (serialized as scripts inside CTxOuts);
  • If sighash type is SINGLE and the input index is smaller than the number of outputs, hashOutputs is the BLAKE2b-256 hash of the output (serialized as above) with the same index as the input;
    • The BLAKE2b-256 personalization field is set to ZcashOutputsHash in both cases above.
  • Otherwise, hashOutputs is a uint256 of 0x0000......0000. [9]

6: hashJoinSplits

  • If vjoinsplits is non-empty, hashJoinSplits is the BLAKE2b-256 hash of the serialization of all JoinSplits (in their canonical transaction serialization format) concatenated with the joinSplitPubKey;
    • The BLAKE2b-256 personalization field is set to ZcashJSplitsHash.
    • Note that while signatures are ommitted, the JoinSplit proofs are included in the signature hash, as with v1 and v2 transactions.
  • Otherwise, hashJoinSplits is a uint256 of 0x0000......0000.

8: nExpiryHeight

The block height after which the transaction becomes unilaterally invalid, and can never be mined. [13]

10b: scriptCode

The script being currently executed: redeemScript for P2SH, or scriptPubKey in the general case. This is the same script as serialized in the Sprout transaction digest algorithm.

10c: value

An 8-byte little-endian value of the amount, in zatoshi, spent in this input.


The hashPrevouts, hashSequence, hashOutputs, and hashJoinSplits calculated in an earlier verification can be reused in other inputs of the same transaction, so that the time complexity of the whole hashing process reduces from O(n2) to O(n).

Refer to the reference implementation, reproduced below, for the precise algorithm:


// The default values are zeroes
uint256 hashPrevouts;
uint256 hashSequence;
uint256 hashOutputs;
uint256 hashJoinSplits;

if (!(nHashType & SIGHASH_ANYONECANPAY)) {
    for (unsigned int n = 0; n <; n++) {
        ss <<[n].prevout;
    hashPrevouts = ss.GetHash();

if (!(nHashType & SIGHASH_ANYONECANPAY) && (nHashType & 0x1f) != SIGHASH_SINGLE && (nHashType & 0x1f) != SIGHASH_NONE) {
    for (unsigned int n = 0; n <; n++) {
        ss <<[n].nSequence;
    hashSequence = ss.GetHash();

if ((nHashType & 0x1f) != SIGHASH_SINGLE && (nHashType & 0x1f) != SIGHASH_NONE) {
    for (unsigned int n = 0; n < txTo.vout.size(); n++) {
        ss << txTo.vout[n];
    hashOutputs = ss.GetHash();
} else if ((nHashType & 0x1f) == SIGHASH_SINGLE && nIn < txTo.vout.size()) {
    ss << txTo.vout[nIn];
    hashOutputs = ss.GetHash();

if (!txTo.vjoinsplit.empty()) {
    for (unsigned int n = 0; n < txTo.vjoinsplit.size(); n++) {
        ss << txTo.vjoinsplit[n];
    ss << txTo.joinSplitPubKey;
    hashJoinSplits = ss.GetHash();

uint32_t leConsensusBranchId = htole32(consensusBranchId);
unsigned char personalization[16] = {};
memcpy(personalization, "ZcashSigHash", 12);
memcpy(personalization+12, &leConsensusBranchId, 4);

CBLAKE2bWriter ss(SER_GETHASH, 0, personalization);
// fOverwintered and nVersion
ss << txTo.GetHeader();
// Version group ID
ss << txTo.nVersionGroupId;
// Input prevouts/nSequence (none/all, depending on flags)
ss << hashPrevouts;
ss << hashSequence;
// Outputs (none/one/all, depending on flags)
ss << hashOutputs;
// JoinSplits
ss << hashJoinSplits;
// Locktime
ss << txTo.nLockTime;
// Expiry height
ss << txTo.nExpiryHeight;
// Sighash type
ss << nHashType;

if (nIn != NOT_AN_INPUT) {
    // The input being signed (replacing the scriptSig with scriptCode + amount)
    // The prevout may already be contained in hashPrevout, and the nSequence
    // may already be contained in hashSequence.
    ss <<[nIn].prevout;
    ss << static_cast<const CScriptBase&>(scriptCode);
    ss << amount;
    ss <<[nIn].nSequence;

return ss.GetHash();




This proposal is deployed with the Overwinter network upgrade. [11]

Backward compatibility

This proposal is backwards-compatible with old UTXOs. It is not backwards-compatible with older software. All transactions will be required to use this transaction digest algorithm for signatures, and so transactions created by older software will be rejected by the network.