Lamport One-Time Signature Scheme (L-OTS)

Lamport signatures, named after their inventor Leslie Lamport, are a type of cryptographic algorithm used for digital signatures. They are based on the concept of one-time signatures and are widely used in secure communication protocols, including blockchain technology. The Lamport signature scheme uses a one-way function to map a message to a unique signature. It consists of three main components: a private key matrix, a public key matrix, and a signature generation algorithm. Let us examine each component in detail.

Private key matrix

The private key matrix is a matrix of binary digits that is generated randomly. It contains two rows for each bit in the hash function output. For example, if the hash function outputs a 256-bit hash, the private key matrix will have 512 rows. Each row contains 256 bits that are randomly generated, either 0 or 1.

Public key matrix

The public key matrix is derived from the private key matrix using a one-way hash function. The hash function is applied to each row of the private key matrix, and the resulting hash value is used to create a new row in the public key matrix. The public key matrix has the same number of rows as the private key matrix, but each row contains the hash value of the corresponding row in the private key matrix.

Signature generation algorithm

To generate a signature for a message, the sender first hashes the message using a cryptographic hash function such as SHA-256. The hash function output is a string of 256 bits. The sender then selects the appropriate rows from the private key matrix based on the bits in the hash output. Specifically, if a bit in the hash output is 0, the first row is selected, and if it is 1, the second row is selected. The corresponding value in the selected row is used to generate a signature bit. The signature is then created by combining the signature bits generated for each bit in the hash output.


To verify the signature, the receiver hashes the message using the same hash function as the sender. The receiver then applies the public key matrix to the signature to generate a new set of bits. Each row of the public key matrix is compared to the corresponding row of the signature. If the bits in the public key matrix match the bits in the signature, the signature is considered valid.


Lamport signatures are simple and efficient, but they have some limitations. One of the main limitations is that the number of possible private keys is limited, and it is possible to find two private keys that generate the same public key. This vulnerability can be mitigated by using a larger key size or by combining Lamport signatures with other cryptographic algorithms.

In conclusion, Lamport signatures provide a simple and efficient solution for digital signatures. They are widely used in secure communication protocols and are particularly useful in resource-constrained environments. While they have some limitations, their advantages make them a popular choice for use in cryptographic systems.