Coders Named After Harry Potter Characters Join Bitcoin’s 'Mimblewimble'

One of bitcoin's more forward-looking projects has attracted a group of developers who are using some obscure names from the Harry Potter series.

AccessTimeIconDec 2, 2016 at 5:54 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 6, 2023 at 3:20 p.m. UTC

One of bitcoin's more forward-looking projects has attracted a group of developers who are using some obscure names from the Harry Potter book series.

Bearing the names of the book series' invisibility cloak inventor (Ignotus Peverell), its leading wand maker (Garrick Ollivander) and the mother of its main antagonist (Merope Ripple), the developers are now working on the first version of Mimblewimble.

First proposed by a cryptographer who uses French version of Tom Riddle (better known as Lord Voldemort), Mimblewimble describes a unique way of solving some of bitcoin’s more pressing problems.

By rearranging bitcoin’s transaction structure in such a way, the proposal helps with two things: scaling the bitcoin network to a greater number of transactions and increasing the privacy of user's transactions. The downside of Mimblewimble is that its alternative transaction structure doesn’t work with the existing bitcoin network, so this code may ultimately come to form the basis for future implementation as a sidechain or an altcoin.

In an effort to bring the theoretical project to life, bitcoin experts such as Blockstream mathematician Andrew Poelstra and Bitcoin Core contributor Bryan Bishop have taken an active interest in the project, with Poelstra putting forth a white paper that refines the idea and offers ideas for further scalability improvements.

While Lord Voldemort disappeared after debuting his paper, pseudonymous developers bearing the names of Harry Potter characters went on to take the reins and begin working on an implementation based on the original concept.

According to Poelstra, the jury is still out as to the true identities of these developers.

He told CoinDesk:

"There isn't any publicly available info about who these people are."

New 'wizards'

Shortly after the paper's debut (and its author's departure), Ignotus Peverell took the role of ringleader, putting Lord Voldemort’s theory into practice in a project called grin.

He or she described the open source project as "very far from complete" upon publishing it in the bitcoin-wizards IRC channel, a popular place to chat about technical bitcoin details.

On 29th October, Garrick Ollivander joined ranks to "fix a merkle tree malleability", among other updates, sparking a new round of excitement for at least one developer.

"And sure enough here was yet another Harry Potter character showing up doing Mimblewimble stuff which was super exciting. I was super jacked. I went for a long run around Austin to let my excitement out," Poelstra said at a recent bitcoin meetup. The entry of Ollivander was followed by Merope Riddle, who made several contributions in late October.

Despite the attention from more "wizards", Poelstra noted that the project is not yet usable, but that it's "making steady progress".


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