CryptoNote is a protocol designed for cryptocurrencies that aim to solve Bitcoin‘s specific problems, including traceability of transactions, the proof-of-work function, irregular emission, hardcoded constants, bulky scripts, and financial privacy. The “CryptoNote Whitepaper” describes its mathematical component and motivation, released in two editions in 2012 and 2013. Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency to use this technology. Later, several teams launched their networks based on the Bitcoin code.
The creator of the white paper went by the name Nicolas van Saberhagen. Like Satoshi Nakamoto (the founder of bitcoin white paper), that name is probably a pseudonym. Saberhagen’s true identity and location remain unknown. Some have claimed that the author is someone in the bitcoin community. The possible suspects have been floated as Adam Back, Nick Szabo, and even Satoshi Nakamoto, but little evidence supports those claims. Almost nothing is known about the original author of CryptoNote, “Nicolas van Saberhagen.”
Stanford Bitcoin Group‘s possible involvement in developing the CryptoNote protocol has also been in focus. Before the CryptoNote cryptocurrency protocol, the domain cryptonote.org hosted an encrypted message application named CryptoNote. This application was created by the members of the Stanford Bitcoin Group but had not received wide recognition. This website currently hosts the CryptoNote technology.
With the release of a whitepaper created by the unknown Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin appeared during a financial crisis on October 31, 2008. Three years later, we saw the presentation of the technology behind the cryptocurrency Monero in a whitepaper written by the unknown “Nicolas van Saberhagen.” Many research and textual analyses now indicate Satoshi Nakamoto and Nicolas van Saberhagen may have been the same person or group. Satoshi Nakamoto perhaps had a clear motive for writing the CryptoNote Whitepaper, but in a better version than the first one he wrote. In a posting on August 13, 2010, Nakamoto sets out the ideology for privacy in cryptocurrency that would later appear in the CryptoNote Whitepaper. It is the concept for stealth addresses that hide recipients in a cryptocurrency transaction and ring signatures that hide senders. In addition, during the CryptoNote White Paper, Nakamoto witnessed the struggle against changes in the size of the bitcoin block (Nakamoto himself inserted a 1 MB block size limit in the bitcoin codebase in 2010) and the reduction of the mining reward to dig in half, which the new White Paper has done. A Central Processing Unit (CPU) is the primary computational engine in personal computers. The Bitcoin Whitepaper forward the concept of “one CPU, one vote” in protecting the network. This directive had stopped working by the CryptoNote whitepaper, as Bitcoin’s SHA-256-based proof-of-work algorithm had been ported to faster Graphical Processing Units (GPUs) and implemented on Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs). Saberhagen’s new proof-of-work addressed precisely this.
After watching philosophical ideals yield under the old design, Satoshi appears to have revised the algorithms. Maybe the new knowledge, insights, and three years of hard thinking by one of humanity’s greatest minds led to transcendent concepts in the CryptoNote Whitepaper.
Writing analysis shows a clear style connection between the two whitepapers. The developer of the CryptoNote whitepaper was more likely to be the creator of the Bitcoin whitepaper than any of the fifteen leading papers selected from the Monero literature.
The visible parallels abound without the deep scientific spelling algorithms: Both whitepapers used the exact spelling of “favor/favorable.” Contrary to the typical style of academically formatted papers, both used the contraction “can’t,” also the wording “In this paper, we…” and black-and-white line drawings with solid and dashed lines. And so on.
You can look at the two documents and get floored by the similarities, and maybe we should name the author Satoshi van Saberhagen, but like many, we are still processing this. It may be all coincidence combined with results-tailorable academic software, with no real connection between the two developers. Maybe Nicolas van Saberhagen is a humble techie, talented, creative, admired Satoshi Nakamoto and wanted to stay anonymous while hiding in plain sight.
It doesn’t matter who is behind these pseudonyms, but we can confidently say that if Nakamoto is Nicolas van Saberhagen, Monero was Satoshi’s most remarkable work.
And although we do not know who these people are, we are still lucky to see two of the prominent inventors of our time: Nakamoto, the founder of the entire cryptocurrency, and Nicolas van Saberhagen, the creator of the cryptocurrency that protects people’s freedom and privacy.