[curves] pure-python Ed25519 library for review

Brian Warner warner at lothar.com
Tue Apr 7 11:55:18 PDT 2015

Hi folks.. I could use some extra eyeballs on a pure-python library I
put together to do Ed25519 operations:


Of course it's very much not constant-time, and a lot slower than a C
implementation. But a pure-python library is, in practice, much easier
to depend upon than one that requires a C compiler.

And it's not unusably slow. If you run "python setup.py speed" in that
tree, you'll get the speed-test results. On my machine (2.6GHz i7), I'm
getting SUPERCOP-compatible Ed25519 sign/verify times of 2.8ms and
10.5ms .

I'm writing this to support a pure-python SPAKE2 library, for which I'm
seeing each phase of the protocol take about 5-8ms.

I'm especially looking for feedback on the arbitrary_element() function,
which provides SPAKE2 with the unknown-discrete-log group elements U and
V (or M and N depending on which paper you read). That function is
paraphrased here:


 def arbitrary_element(seed): # unknown DL
     hseed = hashlib.sha512(seed).digest()
     y = int(binascii.hexlify(hseed), 16) % Q
     for plus in itertools.count(0):
         y_plus = (y + plus) % Q
         x = xrecover(y_plus)
         Pa = [x,y_plus]
         if not isoncurve(Pa):
         P = ElementOfUnknownGroup(xform_affine_to_extended(Pa))
         P8 = P.scalarmult(8)
         if is_extended_zero(P8.XYTZ):
         assert is_extended_zero(P8.scalarmult(L).XYTZ)
         return Element(P8.XYTZ)
     # never reached

("Q" is 2**255-19, and xrecover() does what you'd expect)

What this code is doing and why:

* oversized hash (sha512) and reduction, to avoid any significant bias.
  I'm pretty sure this doesn't matter for SPAKE2, but it seemed
  appropriate. Should I remove this? Does Elligator avoid bias?
* test isoncurve(P), increment-and-try-again if not. I find that about
  50% of Y-coords result in not-on-curve points. I assume these points
  are actually on the "twist", and that some protocols can run faster by
  ignoring this fact, but I don't know enough to safely do the same.
* multiply by 8 to force any points of order 2*L/4*L/8*L into the proper
  order=L subgroup. It also forces points of order 1/2/4/8 into the
  identity element (zero)
* test against zero, which rejects points of order 1/2/4/8. I'm not sure
  if I need to be worried about these: I suspect they're vanishingly
  unlikely to happen. The full version has a large comment about my
  probably-flawed beliefs of how common these points are, and I think
  there are at most 8 of them.

The rest of that file defines addition and multiplication functions
(using "extended" coordinates, XYTZ) and some object-oriented wrappers
to make application code easier/safer. In the process of testing, I
found a need for that ElementOfUnknownGroup, to exercise point math on
things like the identity and the point of order 2. Most applications
would stick to the correct-group-order Element class instead.

The repo includes a compatible implementation of Ed25519 signatures, a
demo DH-key-agreement routine (functionally equivalent to Curve25519 but
not interoperable with it), and a SPAKE2 implementation that I intend to
use in another project I'll be asking y'all to review shortly.

The bytes_to_element() function does full is-this-in-the-right-group
point validation, which slows things down by 2-4ms. It'd be nice to
remove that for the protocols that were designed to not need it
(Ed25519/Curve25519 clear the cofactor in other ways), but I don't
understand the issues well enough to feel confident removing it. Plus, I
don't want to leave a trap for later users of the library. Perhaps I'll
add a function named bytes_to_8_times_element() that multiplies instead
of validating.

An interesting side discussion would be how/where to speed up SPAKE2
with these same tricks. Maybe instead of X=G*a+U*pw. Y=G*b+V*pw.
Z1=(Y-V*pw)*a. Z2=(X-U*pw)*b, you'd do?:

  X=G*a+U*pw. Y=G*b+V*pw. Z1=(Y*8-V*pw*8)*a. Z2=(X*8-U*pw*8)*b

Anyways, any and all feedback is welcome. Let me know what you think!


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