Encyclopedia of Database Systems

2009 Edition

Merkle Trees

  • Barbara Carminati
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-39940-9_1492



Merkle trees are data structures devised to authenticate, with a unique signature, a set of messages, by at the same time making an intended verifier able to verify authenticity of a single message without the disclosure of the other messages. In particular, given a set of messages M   =   {m1,,mn}, the Merkle tree created with them is a binary tree whose leaves contain the hash value of each message m in M, whereas internal nodes contain the concatenation of the hash values corresponding to its children.

Key Point

A Merkle tree is a data structure introduced by Merkle in 1979 [1] to improve the Lamport-Diffie one-time signature scheme [2]. In this digital signature scheme, keys can be used to sign, at most, one message. This implies that for each signed message a new public key has to be generated and published. As consequence, Lamport-Diffie one-time digital signature scheme requires publishing a large...

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Recommended Reading

  1. 1.
    Merkle R. Secrecy, authentication, and public key systems. Electrical Engineering, PhD Thesis, Stanford University, 1979.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Lamport L. Constructing digital signatures from a one-way function. Technical Report CSL-98, SRI International, Palo Alto, 1979.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara Carminati
    • 1
  1. 1.University of InsubriaVareseItaly