research & development

the ethereum project: learning to dream with open minds

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” Friedrich Nietzsche</blockquote> Ethereum as a project is more than just a technology, even if technology is at its core. In the rush of creating, co-creating and debugging everything you sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture. You need stop for a second, take a step back and observe in order to fully appreciate what’s going on. The project started as an...
research & development

Toward a 12-second Block Time

One of the annoyances of the blockchain as a decentralized platform is the sheer length of delay before a transaction gets finalized. One confirmation in the Bitcoin network takes ten minutes on average, but in reality due to statistical effects when one sends a transaction one can only expect a confirmation within ten minutes 63.2% of the time; 36.8% of the time it will take longer than ten minutes, 13.5% of the time longer than twenty minutes and 0.25% of...
fallback

Background on the mechanics of the ether pre-sale

During the run-up to the ether sale we will be releasing a series of blog posts regarding our development plans and intended organizational structure. Today we describe some of the background details of the ether sale module.  The sale module will be displayed on our website at https://www.ethereum.org for the duration of the sale. What is it? The ether sale is an HTML/JavaScript web application that enables people and organizations to pre-purchase ether tokens with bitcoin. Ether may be purchased...
research & development

On Stake

The topic of mining centralization has been a very important one over the past few weeks. GHASH.io, the Bitcoin network’s largest mining pool, has for the past month directed over 40% of the Bitcoin network’s hashpower, and two weeks ago briefly spiked over 50%, theoretically giving it monopoly control over the Bitcoin network. Although miners quidkly left the pool and reduced its hashpower to 35%, it’s clear that the problem is not solved. At the same time, ASICs threaten to...
research & development

Advanced Contract Programming Example: SchellingCoin

Writing effective decentralized applications in Ethereum is at the same time easy and hard. The easy part we all know: rather than needing to create your own blockchain, manage complicated database code, deal with networking and NAT traversal, or any of the other complexities involving writing a peer-to-peer app from scratch, you can write code in a simple, high-level programming language like Serpent or Mutan (or LLL if you prefer mucking around a bit lower-level), with the simplicity of a...
research & development

On Mining

Decentralization, n. The security assumption that a nineteen year old in Hangzhou and someone who is maybe in the UK, and maybe not, have not yet decided to collude with each other. There has been a large amount of ruckus in the past week about the issue of mining centralization in the Bitcoin network. We saw a single mining pool, GHash.io, amass over 45% hashpower for many hours, and at one point even grow to become 51% of the entire...
research & development

Ethereum Project Update

Development of the Ethereum project has gone very well over the months since inception.  The core activity — development of the software platform — is on track and many developers around the world are starting to build small, exploratory distributed applications on the platform, even though we are still not yet in alpha release. The 5th installment of the proof of concept series will be released soon, though many community members download the developing source code, compile it and use...
research & development

What If Ethereum Lived on a Treap? Or, Blockchains Charging Rent

Although truly solving blockchain scalability fundamentally, that is to say figuring out a solution to the problem that every node must process every transaction, is a very hard problem, and all suggested solutions rely on either highly advanced cryptography or intricate multi-blockchain architectures, partial solutions that provide a constant-factor improvement over the way Bitcoin does things are actually quite easy to find. In Ethereum, for example, we have the concept of a separate state tree and transaction history, allowing miners...
research & development

On Long-Term Cryptocurrency Distribution Models

One of the challenges when creating a new cryptocurrency is figuring out what the distribution model is going to be. Who is going to receive the currency units, at what time, and what is the mechanism that decides? Despite the crucial importance of this question, there has actually been comparatively little thought into the issue compared with other aspects of currency, like consensus algorithms and feature sets. The question is particularly challenging because, just like many other problems in the...