top of page

AI explains go-ethereum/accounts/hd.go

The given code block represents the start of a Go file in the `accounts` package. The `import` statement is used to include packages that provide necessary functionality for the current file.

Here is a brief overview of the imported packages:

- `encoding/json`: This package is used for encoding and decoding JSON objects. It provides functions to convert Go values to JSON and vice versa.

- `errors`: The `errors` package provides functionality to create error messages. In Go, error handling is important, and this package provides simple functionalities to create error messages.

- `fmt`: This package implements formatted I/O functions similar to the C `printf` and `scanf` family of functions. It's used for output formatting and printing.

- `math`: The `math` package provides basic constants and mathematical functions. This might be used in calculations in this file.

- `math/big`: This package provides arbitrary-precision arithmetic (big numbers). It's usually used when working with large numbers that cannot be handled with regular numeric types.

- `strings`: This package provides simple functions to manipulate UTF-8 encoded strings. It has functions to split, join, replace strings and more.

The provided code defines several variables representing different derivation paths for Ethereum wallets. Derivation paths are used in Hierarchical Deterministic (HD) wallets, which are a type of wallet that generate child keys from a master key. These paths define a structure on how to derive these keys.

1. `DefaultRootDerivationPath`: This path is used as a root for deriving keys in a wallet. It starts with a prefix `m/44'/60'/0'/` and custom derivation endpoints are appended to it. For example, the first account will be at `m/44'/60'/0'/0`, the second at `m/44'/60'/0'/1`, and so on.

2. `DefaultBaseDerivationPath`: This path extends the `DefaultRootDerivationPath` by adding another level of derivation. It has a base path of `m/44'/60'/0'/0/` and custom derivation endpoints are appended to it. The first account is at `m/44'/60'/0'/0/0`, the second at `m/44'/60'/0'/0/1`, and so forth.

3. `LegacyLedgerBaseDerivationPath`: This is the legacy base path that was used in older versions of Ledger hardware wallets. The path is the same as the `DefaultRootDerivationPath` (`m/44'/60'/0'/`) and is kept for backward compatibility.

In these definitions, `44'` is the purpose field set by BIP44 for HD wallets, `60'` stands for the coin type (Ether in this case), and `0'` is the account number. Each apostrophe `'` after a number denotes that the number is in "hardened" mode, a feature in HD wallets to increase security.

These paths provide a way to organize the generation of keys in a consistent manner across different wallets. That way, as long as you have the same master key and use the same derivation paths, you can recreate the same set of addresses across different wallet software.

HD wallets and derivation path

Hierarchical Deterministic (HD) wallets, as the name suggests, allow the generation of child keys in a hierarchical and deterministic manner from a single starting point known as the "root". This root is often represented as a seed phrase (also called a mnemonic phrase), which can be turned into a binary seed through a standard process.

The root for deriving keys in an HD wallet refers to the master private key that is generated from this seed. This master key is the starting point for creating a tree-like structure of child and grandchild keys.

The process of generating child keys from a root key is based on the BIP32 (Bitcoin Improvement Proposal 32) standard. This standard describes a method of key derivation where you can derive child keys from a parent key in a way that you can't reverse the process. That is, you can't figure out the parent key from a child key, or any other child keys from a single child key.

The child keys are typically represented as a path from the master key, like `m/0/1/2`. Each level of the path represents a new level of key derivation. The master key (`m`) is used to derive the first level of child keys (like `m/0`, `m/1`, `m/2`, etc.). Each of these child keys can then be used to derive their own child keys (like `m/0/0`, `m/0/1`, `m/0/2`, etc.), and so on.

When an account address needs to be generated, a child key is derived from the master key based on the path. This child key is then used to generate a public key, which in turn is used to derive an Ethereum address. By using the same master key and the same path, you can always derive the same Ethereum address.

This is particularly useful for backup and recovery purposes. Instead of backing up every single private key for every single address you use, you can just back up your root seed phrase. As long as you know the paths you've used, you can recover all your addresses and their associated keys from the seed phrase. This property also allows for other features, like generating new addresses without needing to backup a new key each time.

The `DerivationPath` type in this Go code is essentially a slice (`[]`) of unsigned 32-bit integers (`uint32`). This is used to represent the derivation path for accounts in a Hierarchical Deterministic (HD) wallet.

In the context of HD wallets, a derivation path indicates the path from the root (master) private key to a specific child private key in the key hierarchy. Each segment in the path corresponds to a key derivation, where a new key pair is generated from an existing one.

The comment above the type definition provides context about how these paths are used in Ethereum and the standards they follow. To break down the path `m / purpose' / coin_type' / account' / change / address_index`:

- `m` signifies the master key.

- `purpose'` is a constant set to `44'` (or `0x8000002C` in hexadecimal) as per the BIP-44 specification, indicating that the key is meant for use with cryptocurrency accounts.

- `coin_type'` is set to `60'` (or `0x8000003C`) for Ethereum as per the SLIP-44 specification.

- `account'` is the index of the account for which a key is being derived. This lets you use multiple accounts under the same master key.

- `change` is a binary value (`0` or `1`) indicating whether the key is meant for change addresses (in Ethereum, this is typically ignored and set to `0`).

- `address_index` is incremented to generate new keys within the account.

As per the comment, the root path for Ethereum is `m/44'/60'/0'/0`. According to this schema, any subsequent accounts would be created by incrementing the last component: `m/44'/60'/0'/0`, `m/44'/60'/0'/1`, `m/44'/60'/0'/2`, and so on.

In code, the `DerivationPath` type can be used to represent these paths, each `uint32` value corresponds to a segment of the path, making it easy to manipulate and traverse the key hierarchy programmatically.


The `ParseDerivationPath` function in this Go code takes a user-specified string representation of a derivation path (like "m/44'/60'/0'/0") and converts it into the internal binary representation (`DerivationPath` type, which is a slice of `uint32`).

Here is a step-by-step explanation of the code:

1. The function first declares a `result` variable of type `DerivationPath`.

2. It then splits the input `path` string into components based on the slash ("/") delimiter.

3. The function then checks the first component:

- If there are no components or the first component is an empty string, an error is returned because a derivation path cannot be empty or start with a slash.

- If the first component is "m", it signifies an absolute path, and the "m" component is skipped (removed from the list of components to process).

- Otherwise, the function prepends the `DefaultRootDerivationPath` to the result. This is for handling relative paths that should be appended to the default root path.

4. If no components remain after this process (i.e., the path is empty), an error is returned.

5. The function then processes each remaining component:

- If a component ends with " ' ", it signifies a hardened path, and the hardened bit (`0x80000000`) is added to the `value` variable. Hardened keys are generated in a slightly different way that involves the parent's private key. As a result, you can't derive a hardened child's public key from its parent public key without the parent's private key.

- Then, the function attempts to parse the remaining part of the component as an integer. If it fails to do so, an error is returned.

- The function then checks if the parsed integer is within the valid range. If it's out of range, an error is returned.

- The parsed integer is added to the `value` and then appended to the `result` slice.

6. After all components are processed, the function returns the `result` as the parsed `DerivationPath`, or an error if something went wrong.

This function helps to convert a human-readable representation of a derivation path into a format that can be used programmatically, taking into account both relative and absolute paths and handling both hardened and non-hardened components.

This is a function attached to the `DerivationPath` type in Go. It's overriding the default `String()` function provided by Go's built-in `fmt.Stringer` interface. This is used for creating human-readable representations of complex types. The function is converting a derivation path, represented as an array of unsigned 32 bit integers, back into a human-friendly format.

Here's a step-by-step breakdown of this function:

1. It first sets `result` as "m", which is the prefix for the Master in the path notation.

2. It then iterates over each component in the `DerivationPath` (which is an array of `uint32` values).

3. For each component, it checks if the component value is greater or equal to `0x80000000` (this is the hardening threshold in the HD wallet path specification). If it is, then this path component represents a hardened key, and the function subtracts `0x80000000` from the component to get the actual index, and sets `hardened` to `true`.

4. It then appends the component value to the result string. If the `hardened` flag is `true`, it also appends a single quote `'` to indicate that this component represents a hardened key.

5. Finally, the function returns the resulting string.

For example, if the `DerivationPath` is `[0x8000002C, 0x8000003C, 0x80000000, 0, 1]` (in hexadecimal notation), the function will convert this to the string "m/44'/60'/0'/0/1", which is much easier to read and understand.

This code provides custom JSON serialization and deserialization for the `DerivationPath` type in Go.

MarshalJSON functions

1. **MarshalJSON()**: This function is used to convert the `DerivationPath` object into a JSON-serializable format. This function is called when you try to encode the `DerivationPath` object to JSON, for instance by using `json.Marshal()`. What it does is pretty straightforward: it converts the `DerivationPath` object into a string by calling the `String()` function (which will return the human-readable path like "m/44'/60'/0'/0"), and then encodes this string into JSON. The resulting JSON is a string.

2. **UnmarshalJSON(b []byte)**: This function is used to convert a JSON representation of a `DerivationPath` back into a `DerivationPath` object. This function is called when you try to decode a JSON representation into a `DerivationPath` object, for instance by using `json.Unmarshal()`. The function works as follows: It first unmarshals the input bytes into a string. This string should be a human-readable path like "m/44'/60'/0'/0". It then calls the `ParseDerivationPath()` function to convert this string back into a `DerivationPath` object. If any of these steps fail, the function will return an error.

DefaultIterator function

This code creates a function, `DefaultIterator`, which returns another function that acts as an iterator over a Hierarchical Deterministic (HD) wallet's accounts. This iterator is based on the BIP-32 path derivation standard. The iterator function, when called, will return the next account in the sequence, incrementing the last component of the derivation path.

Here's a breakdown of how it works:

1. `DefaultIterator` takes a base `DerivationPath` as an argument. This base path specifies the initial path from which the iterator will start.

2. It then creates a new `DerivationPath` called `path`, making a copy of `base`. This ensures that changes to `path` will not affect `base`.

3. The third line of the function, `path[len(path)-1]--`, decrements the last component of `path` by 1. This sets up the iterator so that the first call to it will return the first account (since the iterator increments the last component before returning the path).

4. Finally, `DefaultIterator` returns a function (the iterator) that, when called, increments the last component of `path` and returns the resulting `DerivationPath`. This function is stateful; it retains a reference to `path` and modifies it with each call.

So, if you create an iterator with `DefaultIterator(DefaultBaseDerivationPath)`, each call to the iterator will give you the next account in the sequence: m/44'/60'/0'/0/0, m/44'/60'/0'/0/1, m/44'/60'/0'/0/2, ... m/44'/60'/0'/0/N.

This code defines a function, `LedgerLiveIterator`, that creates an iterator function over the accounts of a Hierarchical Deterministic (HD) wallet, in the style of the Ledger Live software. This is similar to the `DefaultIterator` function described before, but the difference lies in how Ledger Live increments the accounts.

While the default iterator increments the last component of the derivation path (BIP-44 standard), the Ledger Live iterator increments the third component of the path. The BIP-44 path components typically have this meaning: m / purpose' / coin_type' / account' / change / address_index.

Here's the breakdown of how this works:

1. The `LedgerLiveIterator` takes a base `DerivationPath` as an argument, which specifies the initial path from which the iterator will start.

2. A new `DerivationPath` called `path` is created, which is a copy of `base`. This is to ensure that any changes to `path` won't affect the original `base`.

3. The line `path[2]--` decreases the third component of the `path` by 1. This ensures that the first call to the iterator will return the first account (since the iterator increments the third component before returning the path).

4. Finally, `LedgerLiveIterator` returns an iterator function which increments the third component of `path` and then returns the updated `DerivationPath`. This iterator function maintains the state of `path` across calls.

So, if you create an iterator with `LedgerLiveIterator(DefaultBaseDerivationPath)`, each call to the iterator will give you the next account in the sequence following Ledger Live's convention: m/44'/60'/0'/0/0, m/44'/60'/1'/0/0, m/44'/60'/2'/0/0, ... m/44'/60'/N'/0/0.

1 view0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page