Taproot, the highly-anticipated protocol upgrade designed to add smart contract flexibility and more transactional privacy to Bitcoin, has officially merged into Bitcoin Core.
The implementation now merged into Bitcoin’s code includes the Schnorr and Taproot consensus rules proposed in BIPs 340, 341 and 342, authored by Core contributors Pieter Wuille, Jonas Nick, Anthony Towns and Tim Ruffing. Schnorr signatures are a cryptographic innovation that has long been on top of many Bitcoin developers’ wish lists. Their activation would enable more flexible multisignature transactions and make them indistinguishable from standard Bitcoin transactions.
Read more about what Taproot is and how it will benefit Bitcoin here.
But even though the implementation is merged, it’s unclear how it will be activated.
Because Taproot is a consensus protocol upgrade, its activation will require Bitcoin nodes to switch from the “old rules” to the “new rules.” This has been accomplished through soft forks in the past, some of which have been subject to controversy.
“Taproot is a consensus protocol change, which means that Bitcoin nodes must somehow switch from the old rules to the new rules without splitting the network into fractions enforcing different rules,” Bitcoin Magazine’s Aaron van Wirdum explained. “For various reasons, this has in the past sometimes proven to be a challenge. Improved strategies to activate protocol upgrades are now being contemplated.”
Among the potential solutions for activating Taproot are methods defined through 2017’s BIP 8 and a proposal made by Matt Corallo this year called Modern Soft Fork Activation.
The Taproot implementation will be part of a larger Bitcoin 0.21.0 release, which also included support for V3 of the anonymous communication software Tor; BIPs 155, 157 and 158; and more, per Bitcoin Core Maintainer Michael Ford.