Understanding FROST

This explains the main concepts and flows of FROST in a generic manner. These are important to understand how to use the library, but rest assured that the Tutorial will have more concrete information.

FROST is a threshold signature scheme. It allows splitting a Schnorr signing key into n shares for a threshold t, such that t (or more) participants can together generate a signature that can be validated by the corresponding verifying key. One important aspect is that the resulting signature is indistinguishable from a non-threshold signature from the point of view of signature verifiers.


FROST only supports Schnorr signatures. Therefore it can't produce ECDSA signatures.

Key Generation

There are two options for generating FROST key shares. In both cases, after the key generation procedure, each participant will get:

  • a secret share;
  • a verifying share (which can be used by other participants to verify the signature shares the participant produces);
  • a group verifying key, which is the public key matching the private key that was split into shares; it is used to verify the final signature generated with FROST.

Trusted Dealer Generation

An existing key (which can be freshly generated) is split into shares. It's the simplest approach, but it has the downside of requiring the entire key to exist in memory at some point in time, which may not be desired in high security applications. However, it is much simpler to set up. It requires an authenticated and confidential communication channel to distribute each share to their respective participants.

Learn how to do Trusted Dealer Generation with the ZF FROST library.

Distributed Key Generation

A two-round protocol after which each participant will have their share of the secret, without the secret being ever present in its entirety in any participant's memory. Its downside is that it requires a broadcast channel as well as an authenticated and confidential communication channel between each pair of participants, which may be difficult to deploy in practice.

Learn how to do Distributed Key Generation with the ZF FROST library.


Signing with FROST starts with a Coordinator (which can be one of the share holders, or not) which selects the message to be signed and the participants that will generate the signature.

Each participant sends fresh nonce commitments to the Coordinator, which then consolidates them and sends them to each participant. Each one will then produce a signature share, which is sent to the Coordinator who finally aggregates them and produces the final signature.


If having a single coordinator is not desired, then all participants can act as coordinators. Refer to the spec for more information.


ALL participants who are selected for generating the signature need to produce their share, even if there are more than t of them. For example, in 2-of-3 signing, if 3 participants are selected, them all 3 must produce signature shares in order for the Coordinator be able to produce the final signature. Of course, the Coordinator is still free to start the process with only 2 participants if they wish.


Signature verification is carried out as normal with single-party signatures, along with the signed message and the group verifying key as inputs.


FROST is a generic protocol that works with any adequate prime-order group, which in practice are constructed from elliptic curves. The spec specifies five ciphersuites with the Ristretto255, Ed25519, Ed448, P-256 and secp256k1 groups. It's possible (though not recommended) to use your own ciphersuite.