Scripts and Script Language

Now we begin our deep dive into Bitcoin scripting! Let's start by reading these sections on scripting.

Transaction Scripts and Script Language

The bitcoin transaction script language, called Script, is a Forth-like reverse-polish notation stack-based execution language. If that sounds like gibberish, you probably haven't studied 1960s programming languages, but that's ok – we will explain it all in this chapter. Both the locking script placed on an UTXO and the unlocking script are written in this scripting language. When a transaction is validated, the unlocking script in each input is executed alongside the corresponding locking script to see if it satisfies the spending condition.

Script is a very simple language that was designed to be limited in scope and executable on a range of hardware, perhaps as simple as an embedded device. It requires minimal processing and cannot do many of the fancy things modern programming languages can do. For its use in validating programmable money, this is a deliberate security feature.

Today, most transactions processed through the bitcoin network have the form "Payment to Bob's bitcoin address" and are based on a script called a Pay-to-Public-Key-Hash script. However, bitcoin transactions are not limited to the "Payment to Bob's bitcoin address" script. In fact, locking scripts can be written to express a vast variety of complex conditions. In order to understand these more complex scripts, we must first understand the basics of transaction scripts and script language.

In this section, we will demonstrate the basic components of the bitcoin transaction scripting language and show how it can be used to express simple conditions for spending and how those conditions can be satisfied by unlocking scripts.

Tip: Bitcoin transaction validation is not based on a static pattern, but instead is achieved through the execution of a scripting language. This language allows for a nearly infinite variety of conditions to be expressed. This is how bitcoin gets the power of "programmable money".

Source: Andreas M. Antonopoulos,
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