LNPBP-8: Single-use-seals

LNPBP: 0008
Vertical: Cryptographic primitives
Title: Single-use-seals
Author: Peter Todd
Comments-URI: https://github.com/LNP-BP/lnpbps/issues/117
Status: Proposal
Type: Standards Track
Created: 2017-12-05
Finalized: 2021-11-16
Based on: https://petertodd.org/2017/scalable-single-use-seal-asset-transfer
License: CC0-1.0


A single-use-seal is an abstract mechanism to prevent double-spends. The current proposal defines core single-use-seal terminology and procedures which must be supported and implemented according to this guidelines by any specific single-use-seal implementation.


Concept of single-use-seal was developed as a result of research work on cryptographic commitments, consensus protocols in distributed systems and client-side-validation [1, 2, 3, 4].


Existing cryptographic commitment primitives does not allow to create "two-level" commitments, whether at initial stage a commiter commits to commit to a certain (potentially yet unknown) message in the future, once and only once. Given a trustless way of performing verification of such commitments the primitive may be a basic building block for creating decentralized, private and censorship-resistant state machines and smart contracting systems which will be protected from "double-spend" attacks.


Analogous to the real-world, physical, single-use-seals used to secure shipping containers, a single-use-seal primitive is a unique object that can be closed over a message exactly once. In short, a single-use-seal is an abstract mechanism to prevent double-spends.


For a given data structure $l$ providing single-use-seal definition and a message $m$ single-use-seal implementation MUST support two fundamental operations:

  • Close seal $l$ over message $m$, producing a witness $w_l$:


  • Verify that the seal $l$ was closed over message $m$:


A single-use-seal implementation is secure if it is impossible for an attacker to cause the Verify function to return true for two distinct messages $m1$, $m2$, when applied to the same seal (it is acceptable, although non-ideal, for there to exist multiple witnesses for the same seal/message pair).

Practical single-use-seal implementations will also obviously require some way of generating new single-use-seals. Secondly, authentication is generally useful. Thus we have:

  • Generate a new seal bound to pubkey p:


  • Close seal $l$ over message $m$, authenticated by signature $s$ valid for pubkey $p$:


    Obviously, in the above, pubkey can be replaced by any cryptographic identity scheme, such as a Bitcoin-style predicate script, zero-knowledge proof, etc.

  • Finally, while some single-use-seal implementations MAY support the ability to prove that a seal is open, e.g. as of a given block height or point in time. This however is optional, and as it can be difficult to implement, it is suggested that seal-using protocols SHOULD avoid depending on this functionality existing.


An obvious single-use-seal implementation is to simply have a trusted notary, with each seal committing to that notary’s identity, and witnesses being cryptographic signatures produced by that notary. A further obvious refinement is to use disposable keys, with a unique private key being generated by the notary for each seal, and the private key being securely destroyed when the seal is closed.

For a scalable, trust-minimized, single-use-seal implementation we can use a proof-of-publication ledger, where consensus over the state of the ledger is achieved in a trust-minimized manner (i.e. Bitcoin blockchain).

Reference implementation

The reference implementation is version 1.0 of single_use_seals crate, which is a part of the client-side-validation library developed and maintained Dr Maxim Orlovsky at LNP/BP Strandards Association.

If the implementation differs from the spec, the spec has a higher priority.


  1. Peter Todd. Preventing Consensus Fraud with Commitments and Single-Use-Seals https://petertodd.org/2016/commitments-and-single-use-seals

  2. Peter Todd. Scalable Semi-Trustless Asset Transfer via Single-Use-Seals and Proof-of-Publication. https://petertodd.org/2017/scalable-single-use-seal-asset-transfer

  3. Peter Todd. Closed Seal Sets and Truth Lists for Better Privacy and Censorship Resistance. https://petertodd.org/2016/closed-seal-sets-and-truth-lists-for-privacy

  4. Peter Todd. Building Blocks of the State Machine Approach to Consensus. https://petertodd.org/2016/state-machine-consensus-building-blocks

This document is licensed under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal license.

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