Introducing Bandersnatch: a fast elliptic curve built over the BLS12-381 scalar field


by Simon Masson (Anoma - and Antonio Sanso (Ethereum Foundation -

This document describes the details of Bandersnatch a new elliptic curve built over the BLS12-381 scalar field. The curve is similar to Jubjub but is equipped with the GLV endomorphism hence it has faster scalar multiplication.

BlS12-381 and Jubjub

BLS12-381 is a pairing friendly curve created by Sean Bowe in 2017. Currently BLS12-381 is universally recognized as THE PAIRING CURVE to be used given our present knowledge (cit.).
The ZCash team also introduced a new curve built over the BLS12-381 scalar field: Jubjub.
JubJub is a twisted Edwards curve that can be made efficient inside of the zk-SNARK circuit.

Introducing Bandersnatch

In order for some cryptographic application to scale it is needed to have a curve like Jubjub but with faster scalar multiplication. One efficient way to speed scalar multiplication up is to employ the celebrated GLV endomorphism (also used by the “Bitcoin curve” - secp256k1). This technique was until few months ago protected by a US Patent that is now expired and freely usable.
We performed an exhaustive search of curves where the GLV endomorphism could be used over the BLS12-381 scalar field using the Complex Multiplication (CM) method of generating an elliptic curve. To be more specific we computed the order of such curves for the discriminants from -1 to -388.
We found one suitable curve for discriminant -8 with order 2^2\cdot 13108968793781547619861935127046491459309155893440570251786403306729687672801 Bandersnatch is also twist secure: the order of the twist is 2^7 \cdot 3^3 \cdot 15172417585395309745210573063711216967055694857434315578142854216712503379
The curve has j-invariant equal 8000 and exhibits 125.75 bit security . Given the shape of the order it can be expressed also in Montgomery and Edward form.
Bandersnatch in twisted Edwards form looks like

-5x²+y² = 1+dx²y² with d=\frac{138827208126141220649022263972958607803}{171449701953573178309673572579671231137}.

Bandersnatch’s endomorphism

The endomorphism of degree 2 is defined by
\psi(x,y,z) = (xa_1(y+a_2z)(y+a_3z), b_1(y+b_2z)(y+b_3z)yz^2, (y+c_1z)(y+c_2z)yz^2)
and can be computed in 17 multiplications and 6 additions modulo p (a_i, b_i, c_i are integers modulo p).

Scalar multiplication improvement

From the efficient endomorphism \psi, it is easy to apply the GLV method and improve the scalar multiplication cost:

  • Roughly, a scalar multiplication [n]P cost (\log n) \text{Dbl} + (\log n/2) \text{Add}.
  • Using the GLV endomorphism, we can compute [n]P using (\log n/2 )\text{Dbl} + (3\log n/8) \text{Add}, plus few precomputations.

We performed python benchmarks between the double-and-add algorithm and the GLV method applied in the case of our curve, and the GLV version is 30% faster.

Acknowledgments: we would like to thank Luca De Feo, Justin Drake, Dankrad Feist, Daira Hopwood and Zhenfei Zhang for fruitful discussions.


I believe Jubjub needs 750 constraints for fixed-based scalar multiplication inside a Groth16 SNARK, thanks to Daria Hopwood’s optimizations. Can this be reduced using Bandersnatch? I’d presume no but…


I remember reading about how the GLV endomorphism reduced contraints for a secp256k1 implementation, so perhaps the same effect should apply here?

1 Like

I have implemented this curve here, thanks to the toolings from Arkworks.
This PR doesn’t implement the GLV though so the performance is on par with Jubjub.
Will be working on GLV later.
At the moment, Bandersnatch takes 80 us and Jubjub takes 75 us, for fix based scalar multiplication.

A GLV implementation is available here and to be consolidated and upstreamed to arkworks.

Bandersnatch with GLV takes 40 us for a group operation, where Jubjub takes 75 us.