Twisted Edwards curves

In general, a twisted Edwards curve is a mathematical group on the points satisfying an equation of the form

\[ax^2 + y^2 = 1 + dx^2y^2\]

For purposes of cryptography the curve is defined on a finite field.

The corresponding group law is

\[(x_1,y_1) + (x_2,y_2) = \left( \frac{x_1y_2 + y_1x_2}{1 + dx_1x_2y_1y_2} , \frac{y_1y_2 - ax_1x_2}{1 - dx_1x_2y_1y_2} \right)\]

For further information on twisted Edwards curves see [BBJ+08].

Extended coordinate representation

Representing a curve point as an coordinate pair \((x,y)\) is rather inconvenient for calculations on points as reciprocation is a very expensive operation. [HWCD08] specifies an alternative representation: the extended coordinate representation, which stores a point as a tuple of four coodinates \(X\), \(Y\), \(Z\) and \(T\), satisfying the following equations:

\[x = \frac{X}{Z} \qquad y = \frac{Y}{Z} \qquad x \cdot y = \frac{T}{Z}\]

By storing the denominator of the fractions as Z, consequent group operations can be performed without having to compute reciprocals until a canonical representation is needed again. The additional value T is used to speed up some operations.

The extended coordinate representation of twisted Edwards curves allows very efficient strongly unified addition; the term strongly unified addition denotes that the implementation of the addition operation can be used to double a point as well, so the special case of adding a point to itself doesn’t have to be implemented specifically.

As the data of the Explicit-Formulas Database [EFD] suggests, the extended coordinate representation of twisted Edwards curves allows strongly unified addition with the least number of operations of all similar curve types and representations in the database (i. e. 9 multiplications), which is the principal reason a twisted Edwards curve has been chosen for fastd’s handshake.

Point compression

As the points of an elliptic curve satisfy a curve equation, it is possible to transform the coordinates of a point into a more compact representation for transmission or storage. The twisted Edwards curve equation can be transformed to:

\[y^2 = \frac{1 - ax^2}{1 - dx^2}\]

As one can easily see, there are at most two possible \(y\) values for each value of \(x\) (this rule also holds when the elliptic curve is defined over a finite field), thus one bit is enough to distinguish between the two values.

For the curve used by fastd this means: as it is defined over a field with the cardinality \(2^{255} - 19\), 255 bit are necessary to store a coordinate. Point compression allows to conveniently pack the 255 bit \(x\) coordinate with the least significant bit of the \(y\) coordinate into a 256 bit representation.

Even though this optimization is quite obvious, it was protected by US patent 6,141,420 ([VMA00]), which chould have complicated the operation of fastd when subject to the US patent law. Fortunately, the patent has expired on 29 July 2014.

The curve used by ec25519

The curve used by ec25519 is based on Curve25519 (see [Ber06]).

Curve25519 uses a Montgomery curve in a reduced representation, which allows very fast scalar multiplication, but makes it impossible to perform simple additions on curve points. Therefore an equivalent twisted Edwards curve is used for fastd.

Curve25519 is defined by the following equation:

\[v^2 = u^3 + 486662u^2 + u\]

over the prime field \(F_p\) for the prime \(p = 2^{255} - 19\).

[BBJ+08] states that for all Montgomery curves

\[Bv^2 = u^3 + Au^2 + u\]

with \(A \in F_p \setminus \{-2,2\}\) and \(B \in F_p \setminus \{0\}\) there is a birationally equivalent twisted Edwards curve

\[ax^2 + y^2 = 1 + dx^2y^2 \text{ with } a = \frac{A + 2}{B} \text{ and } d = \frac{A - 2}{B},\]

thus leading to the following curve equation:

\[486664x^2 + y^2 = 1 + 486660x^2y^2\]

Generator point

Curve25519 uses a point with

\[u = 9\]

as its generator; the \(v\) coordinate is not specified as it is not needed by the algorithm.

The two possible \(v\) coordinates are:

\[\begin{split}v1 &= \texttt{0x20ae19a1b8a086b4e01edd2c7748d14c923d4d7e6d7c61b229e9c5a27eced3d9} \\ v2 &= \texttt{0x5f51e65e475f794b1fe122d388b72eb36dc2b28192839e4dd6163a5d81312c14}\end{split}\]

Out of \((u,v_1)\) and \((u,v_2)\), the point \((u,v_1)\) has been arbitrarily chosen to be used in fastd; using the equivalence between Montgomery and twisted Edwards curves given by [BBJ+08]

\[\begin{split}x &= \frac{u}{v} \\ y &= \frac{u-1}{u+1}\end{split}\]

this leads to the coordinates

\[\begin{split}x &= \texttt{0x547c4350219f5e19dd26a3d6668b74346a8eb726eb2396e1228cfa397ffe6bd4} \\ y &= \texttt{0x6666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666658}\end{split}\]

which specify the generator point \(G\) that is used by fastd’s ec25519-fhmqvc. Like \((u,v_1)\) on the Montgomery curve, the point \(G = (x, y)\) on the twisted Edwards curve has the order

\[|G| = 2^{252} + 27742317777372353535851937790883648493\]


The elliptic curve operations used by fastd have been implemented as a reusable library, libuecc, which is developed together with fastd. Large portions of the implementation, especially arithmetic modulo \(2^{255}-19\), haven been taken from the original Curve25519 implementation, which has been released in to the public domain by its author D. J. Bernstein.

Like in the Curve25519 implementation, great care has been taken to ensure that there are no data-dependent branches or array accesses, thus making libuecc resistant to timing attacks.


[BBJ+08](1, 2, 3) D. J. Bernstein, P. Birkner, M. Joye, T. Lange and C. Peters, “Twisted Edwards curves”, in Progress in Cryptology—AFRICACRYPT 2008, Springer, 2008, pp. 389–405.
[Ber06]D. J. Bernstein, “Curve25519: new Diffie-Hellman speed records”, in Public Key Cryptography-PKC 2006, Springer, 2006, pp. 207–228.
[EFD]D. J. Bernstein and T. Lange, “Explicit-Formulas Database—Genus-1 curves over large-characteristic fields”. [Online]
[HWCD08]H. Hisil, K. K.-H. Wong, G. Carter and E. Dawson, “Twisted Edwards curves revisited”, in Advances in Cryptology—ASIACRYPT 2008, Springer, 2008, pp. 326–343.
[VMA00]S. A. Vanstone, R. C. Mullin and G. B. Agnew, “Elliptic curve encryption systems”, US Patent 6,141,420, 2000.