Segregated witness

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Segregated Witness (or SegWit) is a computer software upgrade designed to help address scalability issues with some cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin and Litecoin.

Overview

SegWit was first introduced by a developer named Pieter Wiulle at the Scaling Bitcoin conference in 2015. In his presentation, Wiulle said that by implementing a new protocol to bitcoin's core code that removes certain data normally recorded on its blockchain and storing that data outside the block, he could fix a bug in bitcoin's code called "transaction malleability," which allows anyone to change small details that modify the details of the identifying addresses relevant to a transaction - in other words, the data that tells you who sent bitcoin to whom - as well as its subsequent hash. Others praised this proposed protocol upgrade as a potential solution to bitcoin's relatively poor scalability; by implementing this upgrade, bitcoin would be able to process more transactions per second, because less data would be required to record a transaction in a given block. This was dubbed "segregated witness," because the signature data had previously been named the "witness."

Another benefit of SegWit is that it is, from a programming standpoint, surprisingly flexible; SegWit supports implementing "second layer" protocols, meaning the protocol tends to operate smoothly with protocols built "on top" of a blockchain, such as the Lightning Network.

Not all members of the bitcoin community agreed that the upgrade was feasible from a technical standpoint. In fact, the debate became so devisive, it led to the hard fork that created Bitcoin Cash.[1]

In August 2017, SegWit was enacted to the bitcoin blockchain. Because of how the protocol was designed, it was implemented without causing a hard fork.[2]

References