Basis of Lightning Technology (BOLT)

The Basis of Lightning Technology is a standardized technical specification for the implementation of the Lightning Network. The standards define how various implementations can interoperate to interact with and create the same network. The specifications are currently a work-in-progress, and are continually being iterated upon as projects like lnd and c-lightning are built in parallel.

The Basis of Lightning Technology (BOLT) documents describe a layer-2 protocol for off-chain bitcoin transfer by mutual cooperation, relying on on-chain transactions for enforcement if necessary.

See BOLT #2: Channel Establishment for more on channel establishment and BOLT #3: Funding Transaction Output for the format of the bitcoin transaction that creates the channel. See BOLT #5: Recommendations for On-chain Transaction Handling for the requirements when participants disagree or fail, and the cross-signed bitcoin transaction must be spent.

See BOLT #2: Adding an HTLC for the commands a participant uses to add a conditional payment, and BOLT #3: Commitment Transaction for the complete format of the bitcoin transaction.

See BOLT #2: Forwarding HTLCs for details on forwarding payments, BOLT #4: Packet Structure for how payment instructions are transported.

See BOLT #7: P2P Node and Channel Discovery for details on the communication protocol, and BOLT #10: DNS Bootstrap and Assisted Node Location for initial network bootstrap.

See BOLT #11: Invoice Protocol for Lightning Payments for the protocol describing the destination and purpose of a payment such that the payer can later prove successful payment.

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Conditional Payments
Network Topology
Payment Invoicing