How would you create a Solidity function with the following signature?

function extract(bytes data) returns (bytes20 subdata)

Where subdata is a contiguous slice of data and data.length > 20.

This can be with or without inline assembly.


This is the best I've got so far (for the specific case of n=20):

function extract(bytes data, uint pos) returns (bytes20) {
    uint160 subdata = 0;
    for (uint160 i = 0; i < 20; i++) {
        subdata += uint160(data[i + pos]) * 2 ** (8 * (19 - i));
    return bytes20(subdata);


  1. limited to n=20
  2. expensive to compute the powers each time the function is called
  3. verbose compared to slicing

Point (2) can be addressed by pre-computing the powers of two (e.g. at contract instantiation). I don't think it is possible to overcome (1) at present in Solidity as return types are strict.

| improve this answer | |

Just an analogue. Not so expensive.

function extract(bytes data, uint pos) constant
returns (bytes20 result)
    for (uint i=0; i<20;i++)
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  • It's a bit cleaner now we have bitshift ops :) – rain Apr 23 '17 at 14:58
  • Whats the purpose of the bytes20(0xff...)? – Aakil Fernandes Mar 22 '19 at 17:36
  • To create a constant with exactly size of 20 bytes. I'm not sure if it is nessesury. But I'm sure it wil work right. – Alexey Barsuk Mar 24 '19 at 8:37

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