I've followed this tutorial on generating a Public Private key pair value and generating a valid Bitcoin address.
But one part makes me wonder if the implementation is done correctly which is the following:

ECPublicKey epub = (ECPublicKey) publicKey;
ECPoint pt = epub.getW();
byte[] pubBytes = new byte[33]; //32 + 1
pubBytes[0] = 2; //0x02
System.arraycopy(pt.getAffineX().toByteArray(), 0, pubBytes, 1, 32);

To me it seems like hardcoding the 0x02 could lead to errors when the last byte of the Y coordinate is odd or am I wrong?

If this implementation does prove to be wrong, how could I implement it correctly?

  • 1
    In addition to that bug, Java BigInteger.toByteArray() slightly more than half the time won't be 32 bytes as needed here. That looks like a good website to stay very far away from. Dec 15, 2021 at 9:07
  • @dave_thompson_085 I have checked that and for me, toByteArray() has consistently returned 32 bytes. Dec 17, 2021 at 7:07

1 Answer 1


You're correct that the first byte should be 0x03 if the y-coordinate of the public key is odd. So indeed, the tutorial is not correct. If the y-coordinate is odd, just set this instead:

pubBytes[0] = 3;

It is worth noting, though, that you can simply negate the private key to achieve an even y-coordinate. This is obvious because if [s]G = Y then [-s]G = -Y. So it isn't really an issue if you did make this mistake and then wanted to fix it later. This was used in BIP-340 to make all public keys 32-bytes instead of 33, by omitting the 0x02/0x03 and always assuming the even y-coordinate.

  • thank you for this confirmation I have adapted my code like this pubBytes[0] = pt.getAffineY().mod(new BigInteger("2")).equals(BigInteger.ZERO) ? (byte) 2 : (byte) 3; Dec 17, 2021 at 7:07

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