RogerBW's Blog

Perl Weekly Challenge 16 18 July 2019

I've been doing the Perl Weekly Challenges. This one was to do a fiddly numerical calculation, and to check Bitcoin addresses.

The first part was to split a resource between 100 people: person number 1 gets 1%, number 2 gets 2% of what's left, and so on. Who gets most? Quick inspection shows that this is a function with a peak, but the numbers will get quite small, so let's use an unsung module:

use Math::BigFloat;

Set up the resource:

my $n=$ARGV[0] || 100;
my $remaining=Math::BigFloat->new(1);
my $max=0;
my $maxp=0;

Then simply do the calculation, and check whether it's a larger portion than any other:

foreach my $participant (1..$n) {
  my $portion=$remaining*$participant/$n;
  if ($portion > $max) {

print "$maxp: $max\n";

Not very challenging, really. You could probably do it with standard floats.

The other one… well, like everything to do with bitcoin, it's bizarrely overcomplicated. There's a Base58 encoding using a non-standard alphabet, and the checksum is a SHA256 of a SHA256 but then you throw away all but the first four bytes… yech. I really didn't fancy writing my own decoder, so I ended up moving things in and out of GMP representation.

use Encode::Base58::GMP;
use Math::GMPz qw(:mpz);
use Digest::SHA qw(sha256 sha256_hex);

So first we do a basic validation…

foreach my $address (@ARGV) {
  unless ($address =~ /^[1-9A-HJ-NP-Za-km-z]*$/) {
    warn "$address\ninvalid characters\n";

Decode it into a number, then convert that number to a hex string, because we'll be pulling individual bytes off it.

  my $a=decode_base58($address,'bitcoin');
  my $ah=Rmpz_get_str($a,16);
  if (length($ah)%2==1) {
  my @e=($ah =~ /(..)/g);
  while (scalar @e < 25) {
    unshift @e,'00';

Pull out the last four bytes as the checksum.

  my $cksum=join('',splice(@e,-4));

What's left gets packed back into raw bytes for the SHA256 hashing.

  my $raw=pack('C*',map {hex($_)} @e);
  my $digest=substr(sha256_hex(sha256($raw)),0,8);
  if ($digest eq $cksum) {
    print join('',@e),"\n";
  } else {
    warn "$address\nCalculated $digest does not match stored $cksum\n";

I hate bitcoin. There is of course no formal specification of any of this, just code, and if I read someone else's code I wouldn't be writing my own.

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