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Can you please tell me what is inside the Taproot Witness data?

For P2WPKH, it is defined in BIP-0141 and we have: <signature> <pubkey>

But for Taproot, I can't find anything similar. Per exploring the raw transaction data, it seems we only have <signature>.

If I am correct, how can I extract the public key, or sender address from an input which spends a P2TR output?

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  • Hi Sina, "witness program" refers to the byte vector in an output (such as the public key hash in P2WPKH). You probably mean "witness stack" or "input witness", is this correct? Apr 27, 2023 at 20:15
  • You are probably right. according to BIP-0141, it seems it is called witness fields or witness data. Apr 27, 2023 at 20:18
  • Note that there is no such thing as a “sender address”. It is not necessarily a given that the sender has control of the address that input funds were received to. E.g. if the sender uses a custodial service, the address may be associated with another user, or if the transaction was created by multiple users, the inputs may have been owned by various users.
    – Murch
    May 1, 2023 at 14:05

1 Answer 1

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From BIP341:

A Taproot output is a native SegWit output (see BIP141) with version number 1, and a 32-byte witness program. [...]

  • Let q be the 32-byte array containing the witness program (the second push in the scriptPubKey) which represents a public key according to BIP340.
  • Fail if the witness stack has 0 elements.
  • If there are at least two witness elements, and the first byte of the last element is 0x50, this last element is called annex a and is removed from the witness stack. The annex (or the lack of thereof) is always covered by the signature and contributes to transaction weight, but is otherwise ignored during taproot validation.
  • If there is exactly one element left in the witness stack, key path spending is used:
    • The single witness stack element is interpreted as the signature and must be valid (see the next section) for the public key q (see the next subsection).
  • If there are at least two witness elements left, script path spending is used:
    • Call the second-to-last stack element s, the script.

In other words, Taproot key path spends only have one1 witness item, the signature. Script path spends always have at least two witness items, and usually more to provide an initial stack for the script execution.

Since BIP340 signatures don't allow public key recovery, you can't compute the public key (and therefore address) from the signature alone in a key path spend. In a script path spend, you could combine the revealed internal key with the root of the script to get the public key.

However, getting the output script of the output being spent is as simple as looking up the transaction output referenced by the txid and index in the input, so there's rarely a reason to use a method that only works for some output scripts, and requires you to know the output type (P2TR in this case) in the first place.


1 Assuming the annex is not present.

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  • Thank you, so the only workaround to compute the address is to lookup the blockchain again for prev out? Apr 27, 2023 at 21:40
  • I wouldn't even call that a workaround, that's just how it's normally done. Of course this all depends on what exactly you're doing, maybe you're storing the previous outputs with the transaction itself, but you definitely had to look them up at least once. Apr 27, 2023 at 21:50
  • We pay for those blockchain requests, I just wanted to reduce the number of requests. It is possible to compute an address in other scripts, but it seems this is not the case for p2tr. Apr 27, 2023 at 21:51
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    Even for those other scripts, you need to know what type of script you're looking at to compute the address. A witness stack with two items could be a P2WPKH, or it could be something else. I'd recommend considering a solution that doesn't require paying for API requests – this would usually involve running your own node. Apr 27, 2023 at 22:08
  • if you can't recover the public key from a p2tr, then how can the network verify the signature included in the witness? Dec 4, 2023 at 21:43

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