Bitcoin programming language

Opcodes which take integers and bools off the stack require that they be no more than 4 bytes long, but addition and subtraction can overflow and result in a 5 byte integer being put on the stack. There are some words which existed in very early versions of Bitcoin but were removed out of concern that the client might have a bug in their implementation.

The removed opcodes are sometimes said to be "disabled", but this is something of a misnomer because there is absolutely no way for anyone using Bitcoin to use these opcodes they simply do not exist anymore in the protocol , and there are also no solid plans to ever re-enable all of these opcodes.

They are listed here for historical interest only. False is zero or negative zero using any number of bytes or an empty array, and True is anything else. If any input value for any of these commands is longer than 4 bytes, the script must abort and fail. If any opcode marked as disabled is present in a script - it must also abort and fail.

These words are used internally for assisting with transaction matching. They are invalid if used in actual scripts. Any opcode not assigned is also reserved. Using an unassigned opcode makes the transaction invalid.


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The following is a list of interesting scripts. When notating scripts, data to be pushed to the stack is generally enclosed in angle brackets and data push commands are omitted. Non-bracketed words are opcodes. Note that there is a small number of standard script forms that are relayed from node to node; non-standard scripts are accepted if they are in a block, but nodes will not relay them.


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Note: scriptSig is in the input of the spending transaction and scriptPubKey is in the output of the previously unspent i. This was used by early versions of Bitcoin where people paid directly to IP addresses, before Bitcoin addresses were introduced. The disadvantage of this transaction form is that the whole public key needs to be known in advance, implying longer payment addresses, and that it provides less protection in the event of a break in the ECDSA signature algorithm.

The standard way to mark a transaction as provably unspendable is with a scriptPubKey of the following form:. Thus the output can be immediately pruned from the UTXO set even if it has not been spent. Transaction a4bfa8abae5f25dae9d89e4eb67dfacafc1ddc5abbc31b is an interesting puzzle. To spend the transaction you need to come up with some data such that hashing the data twice results in the given hash.

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This transaction was successfully spent by 09fbe71fd1db51ffda40cc0e4f8c8c2c4ab1. The required data happened to be the Genesis block , and the given hash in the script was the genesis block header hashed twice with SHA Note that while transactions like this are fun, they are not secure, because they do not contain any signatures and thus any transaction attempting to spend them can be replaced with a different transaction sending the funds somewhere else. In Peter Todd created scripts that result in true if a hash collision is found.

Bitcoin addresses resulting from these scripts can have money sent to them. If someone finds a hash collision they can spend the bitcoins on that address, so this setup acts as an incentive for somebody to do so. See the bitcointalk thread [2] and reddit thread [3] for more details. Jump to: navigation , search. The script for a typical Bitcoin transfer to destination Bitcoin address D simply encumbers future spending of the bitcoins with two things: the spender must provide a public key that, when hashed, yields destination address D embedded in the script, and a signature to prove ownership of the private key corresponding to the public key just provided.

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This page was last edited on 25 July , at Content is available under Creative Commons Attribution 3. Privacy policy About Bitcoin Wiki Disclaimers. An empty array of bytes is pushed onto the stack. This is not a no-op: an item is added to the stack. Most of the hype around blockchain comes from the cryptocurrencies built upon them, their stunning rise in value, and their precipitous fall. Wealth has a way of capturing our attention.

But underneath the dreams of outrageous fortune are elaborate new programming languages that are changing how we're thinking about giving instructions to computers. The money may come and go, but cryptocurrencies are already disrupting programming. When the stakes are high, ensuring that the code runs correctly is more important than ever—and the language creators are simplifying the syntax, streamlining the logic, and strengthening the structure to make it easier for programmers to get it right.

People get more serious about building correct and trustworthy languages when money is at stake. But in reality, all of the different cryptocurrencies are more than just money.

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Each transaction is actually a mini-program that executes when the money is spent. If the software runs correctly and completely—and only if it does—the money is transferred from owner to owner. This opportunity has unleashed innovators who want to write elaborate contracts in these languages , contracts that will bind everyone involved. They want to build code that will do more than pay 10 coins to Chris; they imagine creating contracts that will enforce liens and ensure that everything is paid in full.

A smart contract for a five-year car loan, for instance, may transfer full ownership to the borrower only when 60 monthly payments are registered on the blockchain. Some even want the contract to check that all of the fees to the Department of Motor Vehicles are paid on time and the insurance has been maintained, in both cases after these facts are also recorded on the blockchain. The programming languages used in these blockchains are pretty basic, often no more complex than the simplest code that arrived soon after the first computers were built.

Bitcoin Script, for instance, has only a few permitted operations, and the data is pushed and pulled from a virtual stack. There are no higher-level constructs such as loops, a limitation to ensure that the code runs quickly to conclusion. Programmers who want to write smart contracts or other code on the blockchain must be ready to confront different challenges. First, they must create something concise and extremely efficient, because everyone double-checking the blocks will execute it. Second, they must imagine what happens when the code is run on different nodes at different times.

The consequences for making a mistake can be terrible, because a smart criminal may figure out a way to trigger a payout.

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The simplicity of the languages has led some developers to create higher-level, more feature-rich languages that are closer to what is used for most modern code. Some of the latest options are more elaborate and must be compiled into the operations that are embedded in the blockchain. Not all of the languages underlying the projects are new.

This approach can make it easier for developers to integrate their existing code with blockchains. Serpent, for example, was one of the original languages for Ethereum; it was a low-level, assembly-like sequence of operands. The language was deprecated recently, and developers have steered away from it. Some of the code written in it may still live on in the blockchain, but it is generally referred to only for historical reasons.


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Mutan is another of the original languages for Ethereum that has been set aside since It was modeled after the popular network language Go, but many of the developers who enjoyed it have since moved to Solidity. Here are the key languages from the world of blockchains arranged in an order that roughly approximates the jump from low-level, simple languages to higher-level, more powerful ones. Some are new creations with an elaborate devotion to correctness, while others are older languages that are getting some traction, and still others are just extras that provide important support.

The original language still controls all of the transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain. The individual operations are single bytes, and most of them perform very basic operations such as pushing a value onto the stack or adding the top two values. All the basic arithmetic and Boolean operations are supported. The high-end operations boil complex cryptographic operations down to one byte. Opcode 0xad will check a digital signature to make sure that the transaction was properly authorized. If you want to lock up a coin until some moment in the future, you can ask the code to make sure the time is greater than some threshold.

Most of the code on the blockchain is pretty straightforward, merely transferring coins from the control of one public key to another. But some have created more elaborate contracts.