# [curves] Torsion-safe representatives (was: Ed25519 "clamping" and its effect on hierarchical key derivation)

Mike Hamburg mike at shiftleft.org
Sat Mar 25 22:56:51 PDT 2017

More straightforwardly, let a' = h (a/h mod l) where h is the cofactor. When h is a power of 2, this is especially easy to compute either with Montgomery multiplication or by iterated halving.

This is also required for certain scalarmul techniques, like going to an isogenous twisted Edwards curve.

I bet in some contexts this is the simplest thing to do. For x25519 though it's more complex than clamping. For ed25519 it's probably good enough to just do everything mod l.

-- Mike

Sent from my phone.  Please excuse brevity and typos.

> On Mar 25, 2017, at 12:43, Henry de Valence <hdevalence at hdevalence.ca> wrote:
>
>> On Mon, Mar 06, 2017 at 11:36:14AM -0800, Tony Arcieri wrote:
>> Ed25519 performs the following operations on private scalars immediately
>> prior to use:
>>
>> scalar[0] &= 248;
>> scalar[31] &= 63;
>> scalar[31] |= 64;
>>
>> I've heard this referred to as "clamping" although that may not be the best
>> term.
>>
>> These operations are not applied to the canonical scalar, i.e. the one
>> which is serialized and persisted as part of the keypair. Instead Ed25519
>> implementations generally flip these bits immediately prior to use, either
>> for signing or deriving the public key.
>>
>> [...]
>>
>> In these schemes, it's not possible to "clamp" the derived scalar
>> immediately prior to signing ("post-clamping" I guess?), as this would
>> result in a different public key (i.e. the math simply does not work out as
>> the groups are no longer commutative). Instead, if any clamping is to be
>> performed it must happen immediately to the parent scalar, and/or to any
>> scalars derived by both the public and private key holders in such a scheme.
>
> Hi all,
>
> this subject came up today at the Tor meeting in a discussion with Ian
> Goldberg, George Kadianakis, Isis Lovecruft, and myself.
>
> As Tony noted, using bit-twiddling to mask away the low bits of a scalar is
> problematic because the bit-twiddling is not well-defined (mod l).  (Here l
> is the order of the basepoint, so the full group has order 8*l).  This means
> that the "clamping" is not compatible with any arithmetic operations on
> scalars.
>
> We (Ian, George, Isis, and myself) have the following suggestion.
>
> Define a "torsion-safe representative" of a \in Z to be an integer a' \in
> Z such that a ≡ a' (mod l) and a' ≡ 0 (mod 8).
>
> This means that a B = a' B for the basepoint B, but a' T = id for T a
> torsion point, so accidentally multiplying by a torsion point can't leak
> information.  However, unlike "clamping", this operation is actually
> well-defined, and leaves the scalar unchanged, in the sense that scalar
> multiplication by a and by a' are the same on the prime-order subgroup.
>
> How do we compute such a representative?  Since (using the CRT)
>
>    k := 3l + 1 ≡ 1 (mod l)
>                ≡ 0 (mod 8),
>
> k*a mod 8l is a torsion-safe representative of a.  Computing k*a mod 8l
> directly is a problem because an implementation may only have arithmetic modulo
> l, not 8l.  However,
>
>    k*a ≡ (3l+1)*a ≡ 3al + a (mod 8l),
>
> so it's sufficient to compute 3al (mod 8l) and add it to a.  Since
>
>     3a mod 8 = 3a + 8n,
>    (3a mod 8)*l = 3al + 8ln ≡ 3al (mod 8l),
>
> so it's sufficient to compute 3a mod 8 and use a lookup table of
>
>    [0, 1l, 2l, 3l, 4l, 5l, 6l, 7l]
>
> to get 3al (mod 8l).  Arranging the lookup table as
>
>    [0, 3l, 6l, 1l, 4l, 7l, 2l, 5l]
>
> means that a mod 8 indexes 3al (mod 8l).  Therefore, computing a
> torsion-safe representative for a scalar a just amounts to computing
>
>    a + permuted_lookup_table[a & 7]
>
> in constant time.  If the input a is reduced, so that a < l, then the
> torsion-safe representative is bounded by 8l < 2^256 and therefore fits in 32
> bytes.
>
> This ends up being slightly more work than just bit-twiddling, but not by much,
> and it's certainly insignificant compared to the cost of a scalar
> multiplication.  There's a prototype implementation here [0] in case anyone is
> curious to see what it looks like.
>
> Cheers,
> Henry de Valence
>
> [0]: https://github.com/hdevalence/curve25519-dalek/commit/2ae0bdb6df26a74ef46d4332b635c9f6290126c7
> (subject to rebasing...)
>
> The permuted lookup table is, explicitly:
>
> sage: l = 2^252 + 27742317777372353535851937790883648493
> sage: lookup = [((3 * i) % 8)*l for i in range(8)]
> sage: lookup
> [0,
> 21711016731996786641919559689128982722571349078139722818005852814856362752967,
> 43422033463993573283839119378257965445142698156279445636011705629712725505934,
> 7237005577332262213973186563042994240857116359379907606001950938285454250989,
> 28948022309329048855892746252171976963428465437519630424007803753141817003956,
> 50659039041325835497812305941300959685999814515659353242013656567998179756923,
> 14474011154664524427946373126085988481714232718759815212003901876570908501978,
> 36185027886661311069865932815214971204285581796899538030009754691427271254945]
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