Transcript Operations

Merlin provides a specified way to use STROBE. STROBE is a protocol framework intended for constructing online transport protocols. Merlin is aimed at a different use-case, zero-knowledge proofs, so it uses only a subset of STROBE. This means that a Merlin implementation can either use a STROBE implementation as a library, or implement the required subset of STROBE operations directly. See the STROBE specification for more details on STROBE operations.

Transcript Objects

A Merlin transcript is a typed wrapper around a STROBE object, instantiated using Keccak-f/1600 at the 128-bit security level.


Merlin transcripts are initialized with a single parameter, app_label, a byte string which represents an application-specific domain separator. See the Passing Transcripts section for more details on usage.

To construct a Merlin transcript, first, construct a STROBE-128 object with the 11-byte label b"Merlin v1.0". Next, append the message body app_label with label b"dom-sep", as described in the following section. Finally, return the transcript.

Appending Messages

Merlin messages are byte strings up to 4GB (u32::max_value() bytes) long. Very long messages are allowed but discouraged; consider prehashing long messages and appending the hash as a message. Messages are labeled by a byte string. See Transcript Protocols for more information about message labels.

To append a message message with label label, perform the STROBE operation

AD[label || LE32(message.len())](message);

where LE32(x) is the 4-byte, little-endian encoding of the 32-bit number x.

The notation OP[meta](data) is defined on page 9 of the STROBE paper. Because Merlin does not have a transport concept, the metadata is encoded using meta-AD.

Extracting Challenges

To extract a sequence of challenge bytes labeled by label into the buffer dest, perform the STROBE operation

dest <- PRF[label || LE32(dest.len())]();

where LE32 is defined as before.