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Ethereum Foundation Internal Update

Now that Ethereum has launched and is rapidly nearing its Homestead phase, over the last few months we at the Ethereum Foundation have finally had the chance to have some breathing room and plan our strategies with a more long-term view. From a development perspective, we have now started in earnest the development of Serenity, the next large overhaul of the Ethereum protocol that will include powerful software abstraction features, the Casper consensus algorithm and hopefully some basic scaffolding that...
research & development

Understanding Serenity, Part 2: Casper

Special thanks to Vlad Zamfir for introducing the idea of by-block consensus and convincing me of its merits, alongside many of the other core ideas of Casper, and to Vlad Zamfir and Greg Meredith for their continued work on the protocol In the last post in this series, we discussed one of the two flagship feature sets of Serenity: a heightened degree of abstraction that greatly increases the flexibility of the platform and takes a large step in moving Ethereum...
research & development

Understanding Serenity, Part I: Abstraction

Special thanks to Gavin Wood for prompting my interest into abstraction improvements, and Martin Becze, Vlad Zamfir and Dominic Williams for ongoing discussions. For a long time we have been public about our plans to continue improving the Ethereum protocol over time and our long development roadmap, learning from our mistakes that we either did not have the opportunity to fix in time for 1.0 or only realized after the fact. However, the Ethereum protocol development cycle has started up...
research & development

Ethereum in practice part 3: how to build your own transparent bank on the blockchain

This is the third and final post on a series on how to use the Ethereum Wallet to create your own autonomous organisations. On the first post we detailed how to create a token, and on the second we shown how to generate a digital democracy controlled by these tokens. Now we will do the full circle and create a token controlled by the Organisation! We are going to modify the token contract to allow it to be minted by...
research & development

Ethereum in practice part 2: how to build a better democracy in under a 100 lines of code

This is a second post on a series on how to use the current Ethereum tools to build smart contracts without needing programming experience. Download the latest version of the Ethereum Wallet, read the first part and let’s have fun! Creating a token is fun, but what is the value of a token that doesn’t do anything new? We are now going to create a new contract that uses the tokens we just created. The contract will be a Democratic organization...
research & development

Ethereum in practice part 1: how to build your own cryptocurrency without touching a line of code

A lot of things have happened in the past few weeks in the Ethereum ecosystem, so many that it might be hard for a casual observer to understand where we are and what’s available out there. So I would like to use my first post here to give you an overview of the tools we’ve built and how you can use them to build interesting things right now. But first a short introduction: I am Alex Van de Sande and...
research & development

Applications of Security Deposits and Prediction Markets You Might Not Have Thought About

Special thanks to Vlad Zamfir for his work in developing many of the ideas behind prediction markets for content curation. For the past six years, people have been searching to try to find those elusive applications of blockchain technology that could finally break out into the mainstream. For cryptocurrency, the applications are largely already known - though it of course remains to be seen just how well it will be able to retain its advantages as traditional payment systems continue...
research & development

Merkling in Ethereum

Merkle trees are a fundamental part of what makes blockchains tick. Although it is definitely theoretically possible to make a blockchain without Merkle trees, simply by creating giant block headers that directly contain every transaction, doing so poses large scalability challenges that arguably puts the ability to trustlessly use blockchains out of the reach of all but the most powerful computers in the long term. Thanks to Merkle trees, it is possible to build Ethereum nodes that run on all...
research & development

Stateful Turing-Complete Policies

One of the major security challenges of the internet over the last twenty years has consistently been the rather simple problem of securing user accounts. Right now, users have accounts with hundreds of websites, and dozens of passwords, leading to large numbers of hacks as individual websites, often run by people not particularly skilled in the finer points of cryptography and internet security, find themselves exploited by increasingly clever hackers, and users frequently deal with the complexity of remembering hundreds...