Skip to content

Sparse Merkle Tree

A Merkle Tree or a hash tree is a cryptographically verifiable data structure where every "leaf" node of the tree contains the cryptographic hash of a data block, and every non-leaf node contains the cryptographic hash of its child nodes.

The Merkle Trees used in Iden3 protocol are Sparse. In Sparse Merkle Trees each data block has an index associated to it that determines its position as leaf inside the tree.

In addition to inheriting the tamper-resistance and proof-of-membership properties from standard merkle trees, a Sparse Merkle Tree has other features:

  • The insert order of data blocks doesn't influence the final Merkle Tree Root. A data block A with index 1 and a data block B with index 4 will always occupy the same positions inside the tree despite the insert order
  • Some leaves remain empty
  • It's possible to prove that certain data is not included in the tree (proof of non-membership)

A Sparse Merkle Tree is the core data structure used in Iden3 protocol to represent an identity. In particular, the leaves of a Sparse Merkle Tree are the claims issued by an identity.

1.Update the required dependencies.

go get 

2.Design a Sparse Merkle Tree.

package main

import (

    merkletree ""

// Sparse MT
func main() {

    ctx := context.Background()

    // Tree storage
    store := memory.NewMemoryStorage()

    // Generate a new MerkleTree with 32 levels
    mt, _ := merkletree.NewMerkleTree(ctx, store, 32)

    // Add a leaf to the tree with index 1 and value 10
    index1 := big.NewInt(1)
    value1 := big.NewInt(10)
    mt.Add(ctx, index1, value1)

    // Add another leaf to the tree
    index2 := big.NewInt(2)
    value2 := big.NewInt(15)
    mt.Add(ctx, index2, value2)

    // Proof of membership of a leaf with index 1
    proofExist, value, _ := mt.GenerateProof(ctx, index1, mt.Root())

    fmt.Println("Proof of membership:", proofExist.Existence)
    fmt.Println("Value corresponding to the queried index:", value)

    // Proof of non-membership of a leaf with index 4
    proofNotExist, _, _ := mt.GenerateProof(ctx, big.NewInt(4), mt.Root())

    fmt.Println("Proof of membership:", proofNotExist.Existence)

A data block inside the tree is represented by a index and a value. The index represents the position in the tree and it must be unique. The value represents the associated value stored in the tree.

The GenerateProof method shown above allows verifying the membership of a leaf in the merkle tree starting from its root.

The executable code can be found here