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Taproot / Schnorr to improve the Bitcoin network

The Taproot Schnorr proposal has been published as a series of Bitcoin improvement proposals, a milestone for the long-awaited technological change.

Taproot Schnorr first introduced by Bitcoin Core developer Greg Maxwell in January 2018 and formalized by another Bitcoin Core developer, Pieter Wuille, in May as a soft fork included with Schnorr.

The proposed soft fork is expected to provide a much needed privacy feature to the protocol when performing all transactions, whether it is a simple payment between two parties, the opening or closing of a Lightning channel or a sophisticated intelligent contract system: it looks the same to external observers.

The project recently completed its developer feedback phase. On January 16, Wuille opened a draw request for the Taproot/Schnorr BIPS, describing the census rules and basic wallet operation for the proposal.

A few days ago, Wuille released the latest update, announcing that the proposed soft fork is now published as BIP 340, 341 and 342.

The BIPs themselves do not signify final approval, but simply show that the project authors now generally agree with the community on the language of the proposal.

“You have to keep in mind that the assignment of BIP numbers is not some kind of seal of approval; it just means that the process was followed (which includes some public discussion),” Wuille said.

“In this case, I think we (the authors) waited to request numbers until the proposal and wording were fairly consistent,” he added. “Except for the major problems encountered in the review, I don’t think we intend to make any semantic changes.

The next steps are the implementation of the protocol and the activation of the network.

Now that there are BIP numbers to reference, it is expected that Wuille will soon open an Extraction Request for project reference implementation, as noted above, which will likely bring another round of review.

“If all goes well, and it’s clear that Taproot, as proposed, is what the ecosystem is willing to adopt, it will merge and begin the discussion of how to activate it on the web,” Wuille said. “If that also works well, a release will be published with the activation, and if the conditions to activate it are met, it will go live.

“The next steps in this process depend more on the ecosystem than on me or other contributors,” he said. Wuille made it clear that the exact timeline of Bitcoin’s soft fork release is now in the hands of the ecosystem.

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