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.
But even though the implementation is merged, it’s unclear how it will be activated.
Because Taproot is a protocol upgrade for Bitcoin Core, its activation will require Bitcoin nodes to switch from the “old rules” to the “new rules,” which include this implementation. This has been accomplished through soft forks in the past, which have carried some 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.”
The Taproot implementation was 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.