research & development

The Latest EVM: “Ethereum Is A Trust-Free Closure System”

In the past two weeks our lead C++ developer, Gavin Wood, and myself have been spending a lot of time meeting the local Ethereum community in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. We were very excited to see such a large amount of interest in our project, and the fact that after only two months we have a meetup group that comes together every week, just like the Bitcoin meetup, with over thirty people attending each time. People in the community...
research & development

The Question of Mining

There are a lot of interesting changes to the Ethereum protocol that are in the works, which will hopefully improve the power of the system, add further features such as light-client friendliness and a higher degree of extensibility, and make Ethereum contracts easier to code. Theoretically, none of these changes are necessary; the Ethereum protocol is fine as it stands today, and can theoretically be released as is once the clients are further built up somewhat; rather, the changes are...
research & development

DAOs Are Not Scary, Part 2: Reducing Barriers

In the last installment of this series, we talked about what “smart contracts” (or, perhaps more accurately, “self-enforcing contracts”) are, and discussed in detail the two main mechanisms through which these contracts can have “force”: smart property and “factum” currencies. We also discussed the limits of smart contracts, and how a smart contract-enabled legal system might use a combination of human judgement and automatic execution to achieve the best possible outcomes. But what is the point of these contracts? Why...
social-issues

DAOs Are Not Scary, Part 1: Self-Enforcing Contracts And Factum Law

Many of the concepts that we promote over in Ethereum land may seem incredibly futuristic, and perhaps even frightening, at times. We talk about so-called “smart contracts” that execute themselves without any need, or any opportunity, for human intervention or involvement, people forming Skynet-like “decentralized autonomous organizations” that live entirely on the cloud and yet control powerful financial resources and can incentivize people to do very real things in the physical world, decentralized “math-based law”, and a seemingly utopian quest...
research & development

Ethereum Scalability and Decentralization Updates

Scalability is now at the forefront of the technical discussion in the cryptocurrency scene. The Bitcoin blockchain is currently over 12 GB in size, requiring a period of several days for a new bitcoind node to fully synchronize, the UTXO set that must be stored in RAM is approaching 500 MB, and continued software improvements in the source code are simply not enough to alleviate the trend. With every passing year, it becomes more and more difficult for an ordinary...
fallback

Important Statement regarding the Ether pre-sale

The Ethereum Project has had the incredible privilege to launch its PoC testnet and engage the crypto-currency community over the past two months. During our experiences, we’ve encountered a lot of passionate support and wonderful questions that have helped us refine our thoughts and goals including the process we will eventually use to sell ether. This said, we have not finalized the structure and format for the ether presale and thus we do not recommend, encourage, or endorse any attempt...
research & development

Why Not Just Use X? An Instructive Example from Bitcoin

Bitcoin developer Gregory Maxwell writes the following on Reddit: There is a design flaw in the Bitcoin protocol where its possible for a third party to take a valid transaction of yours and mutate it in a way which leaves it valid and functionally identical but with a different transaction ID. This greatly complicates writing correct wallet software, and it can be used abusively to invalidate long chains of unconfirmed transactions that depend on the non-mutant transaction (since transactions refer...
blackhole

Cryptographic Code Obfuscation: Decentralized Autonomous Organizations Are About to Take a Huge Leap Forward

There have been a number of very interesting developments in cryptography in the past few years. Satoshi’s blockchain notwithstanding, perhaps the first major breakthrough after blinding and zero-knowledge proofs is fully homomorphic encryption, a technology which allows you to upload your data onto a server in an encrypted form so that the server can then perform calculations on it and send you back the results all without having any idea what the data is. In 2013, we saw the beginnings...
post image

More Thoughts on Scripting and Future-Compatibility

My previous post introducing Ethereum Script 2.0 was met with a number of responses, some highly supportive, others suggesting that we switch to their own preferred stack-based / assembly-based / functional paradigm, and offering various specific criticisms that we are looking hard at. Perhaps the strongest criticism this time came from Sergio Damian Lerner, Bitcoin security researcher, developer of QixCoin and to whom we are grateful for his analysis of Dagger. Sergio particularly criticizes two aspects of the change: the...