This post is about a discussion proposing to add a pre-compile for Falcon signature verification, a post-quantum digital signature soon to be standardized by NIST.
Ethereum’s public key infrastructure heavily relies on the Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA), an algorithm whose security is rooted in the assumed complexity of the discrete logarithm problem. In 1994, Peter Shor introduced Shor’s algorithm, capable of solving the discrete logarithm problem in polylogarithmic time, implying that ECDSA will no longer be safe in the face of a quantum adversary. While it may be such that there is not a general purpose quantum computer capable of breaking ECC today, this will likely not be the case tomorrow. This urgency underscores the pressing need to explore alternative cryptographic solutions to safeguard Ethereum’s infrastructure. Falcon is a cryptographic signature algorithm submitted to the NIST Post-Quantum Cryptography Project and is set to be standardized in 2024. Of the digital signatures to be standardized by NIST, Falcon wields a signature size a full order of magnitude smaller than it’s contemporaries. The addition of a precompiled contract for Falcon signature verification would:
- Open the door to quantum-safe wallets using signature abstraction to replace ECDSA with Falcon
- Allow for efficient verification of Falcon transactions
- Facilitate further research such as signature aggregation of Falcon signatures, and the adoption of quantum-safe cryptographic primitives across Ethereum