[curves] To multiply or to add in HKD schemes?

Oleg Andreev oleganza at gmail.com
Fri Apr 7 15:08:15 PDT 2017

Hey there,

HKD stands for Hierarchical Key Derivation, e.g. BIP32 [1] or ChainKD [2]. 
Alternatively known as "blinded keys" per Tor's draft [3].

All these schemes generate a scalar to be mixed with the parent public key P using an index or nonce i:

	h(i) := Hash(P || i || stuff)

The first two schemes add a derivation factor (multiplied by the base point) 
to the parent pubkey, while the Tor's approach is to multiply the parent pubkey by the factor:

	Child(i) := P + h(i)*G    // BIP32, ChainKD
	Child(i) := h(i)*P        // Tor

Last time I asked Pieter Wuille (BIP32's author) a couple years ago about their choice, 
his reply (if I recall correctly) was that scalar multiplication for a base point 
is more efficient than for an arbitrary point.

I wonder if there's a difference in functionality if we add the factor (a-la BIP32) or multiply (a-la Tor).
Maybe some weird ZK schemes benefit from blinding/derivation via multiplication instead of addition?

[1] https://github.com/bitcoin/bips/blob/master/bip-0032.mediawiki 
[2] https://chain.com/docs/protocol/specifications/chainkd
[3] https://gitweb.torproject.org/torspec.git/tree/proposals/224-rend-spec-ng.txt#n1979

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