Addresses and Keys

Value transferred on Penumbra is sent to shielded payment addresses; these addresses are derived from spending keys through a sequence of intermediate keys that represent different levels of attenuated capability:

flowchart BT
    subgraph Address
    subgraph DTK[Detection Key]
    subgraph IVK[Incoming Viewing Key]
    subgraph OVK[Outgoing Viewing Key]
    subgraph FVK[Full Viewing Key]
    subgraph SK[Spending Key]
    subgraph SeedPhrase[Seed Phrase]

    index(address index);
    div{ };

    SeedPhrase --> SK;
    SK --> FVK;
    FVK --> OVK;
    FVK --> IVK;

    index --> div;
    IVK ----> div;
    div --> Address & DTK;
    DTK --> Address;

From bottom to top:

  • the seed phrase is the root key material. Multiple accounts - each with separate spend authority - can be derived from this root seed phrase.
  • the spending key is the capability representing spending authority for a given account;
  • the full viewing key represents the capability to view all transactions related to the account;
  • the outgoing viewing key represents the capability to view only outgoing transactions, and is used to recover information about previously sent transactions;
  • the incoming viewing key represents the capability to view only incoming transactions, and is used to scan the block chain for incoming transactions.

Penumbra allows the same account to present multiple, publicly unlinkable addresses, keyed by an 16-byte address index. Each choice of address index gives a distinct shielded payment address. Because these addresses share a common incoming viewing key, the cost of scanning the blockchain does not increase with the number of addresses in use.

Finally, Penumbra also allows outsourcing probabilistic transaction detection to third parties using fuzzy message detection. Each address has a detection key; a third party can use this key to detect transactions that might be relevant to that key. Like a Bloom filter, this detection has false positives but no false negatives, so detection will find all relevant transactions, as well as some amount of unrelated cover traffic. Unlike incoming viewing keys, detection keys are not shared between diversified addresses, allowing fine-grained control of delegation.

This diagram shows only the user-visible parts of the key hierarchy. Internally, each of these keys has different components, described in detail in the Addresses and Keys chapter.