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Elliptic Curve key Pair Generation in BlockChain

Elliptic Curve key Pair Generation
  • Blockchain implementations such as Bitcoin or Ethereum uses Elliptic Curves (EC) to generate private and public key pairs.
  • Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) was invented by Neal Koblitz and Victor Miller in 1985.
  • A 256-bit ECC public key provides comparable security to a 3072-bit RSA public key. The primary advantage of using Elliptic Curve based cryptography is reduced key size and hence speed.
  • Elliptic curves have nothing to do with ellipse.Ellipses are formed by quadratic curves (x2). Elliptic curves are always cubic (x3).
Standards for Efficient Cryptography Group
  • The Standards for Efficient Cryptography Group (SECG) is an international consortium to develop commercial standards for efficient and interoperable cryptography based elliptic curve cryptography (ECC).
  • The SECG website is
  • The SECG has published a document with a recommended set of elliptic curve domain parameters, referred by the letters p, a, b, G, n, h. The data set { p, a, b, G, n, h} is collectively referred to as the Elliptic Curve Domain Parameters.
  • The parameters have been give nicknames to enable them to be easily identified. For example: secp256kl
Elliptic Curve Domain Parameters
  • In this table you will find a set of elliptic curve domain parameters.
  • The elliptic curves uses smaller key sizes with respect to RSA providing comparable security.

  • Bitcoin and Ethereum both uses the same secp256k1 elliptic curve domain parameters.
  • secp256k1 uses the following elliptic curve equation:  y2 = x2 + ax + b
  • In the following slides we will go thru each parameter p, a, b, G, n, h
  • Parameter a = 0
  • Parameter b = 7

SECP256K1: Parameter P
  • A finite field is a field with a finite number of element, defined by parameter p, which is a prime number. Thus the finite field Fp = {0,....p-1}
  • This means that modulo p should be used in the equation:
     ➝ The EC equation: y2 = x3 + ax + b
     ➝ The EC equation with modulo operation: y2 = x3 + ax + b (mod p)

SECP256K1 : Parameter G
  • The basepoint G, also known as the generator or primitive element, is a predetermined point (XG, YG) on the elliptic curve that everyone uses to compute other points on the curve.
SECP256K1 : Parameter N
  • In my discrete logarithm I have explained what a cyclic group is. When you apply a certain number of operation to base point G, the cycle starts all over again in the same order.When the next cycle starts the first time it is indicated by parameter n which is called the order of base point G.
  • The parameter n determines what the maximum value is that can be turned into a private key. Any 256-bit number in the range [1, n-1] is a valid private key.
SECP256K1 : Parameter H
  • The parameter h is called the cofactor and has the constant value 1.
  • Because it has value 1 it does not play a role in the key generation and 1 therefore will not elaborate on the purpose of this parameter.
Dot Operations
  • There are two operations often called dot operations which can be applied to a base point (aka generator G) (XG, YG) on the elliptic curve:
         - Point addition
         - Point doubling
  • The elliptic curve (y2 = x3 + 7) has the following properties:
        - If a line intersects two points P and Q, it intersects a third point on the curve-R.
        - If a line is tangent to the curve, it intersects another point on the curve.
        - All vertical lines intersects the curve at infinity.

Point Addition
  • Adding two points P and Q on a elliptic curve (P≠Q).
  • Geometry approach:
      - Draw a straight line between P(x1, y1) and Q(x2,y2).
      - The line will intersect the elliptic curve at exactly one more point -R.
      - The reflection of the point-R with respect to x-axis gives the point R(x3,y3), which is the results of addition of points P and Q.

Point Doubling
  • Point doubling of point P on an elliptic curve. It is the same as moving point Q to same location as point P (P = Q)
  • Geometry approach:
        - Draw a tangent line to the elliptic curve at point P.
        - The line intersect the elliptic curve at the point-R.
        - The reflection of the point-R with respect to x-axis gives the point R, which is the results of doubling of point P.
  • Point doubling does not mean multiplying the x or y coordinates of P. It is just name give for this approach.

Mathematical Equations

Additional Information
  • The following procedure describes how to generate a Bitcoin public key. For other blockchain implementions it may differ.
  • When the "raw" Bitcoin public key is generated using the ECAdd and ECDouble function it looks like this (large hexadecimal number):2A574EA59CAE80B09D6BA4.....
  • The actual Bitcoin address look like: 1ADS8Lk6vN87Ri9hFjoFduPLNo76cwqUmf
  • Additional conversion steps need to be applied on the "raw" Bitcoin public key to get the actual Bitcoin address which will be explained in another post.

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