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Introduction

Smart contracts provide automation in blockchain solutions. They are immutable, decentralized and deterministic, which make them ideal to remove third-parties and let peer-to-peer interactions. Once aggreed between the parties and deployed on a distributed ledger, their activities and outcomes can be verified, so they can be trusted by all stakeholders. Everybody involved in DLTs are interested in smart contracts and the benefits they bring, but are also worried because there are many aspects about smart contracts they don't understand including legal and ethical insecurities. The main goal of this workgroup will be to enable users, developers, businessmen, decision makers and others interested in smart contracts to understand how they can be utilized among the different DLTs that are under the Hyperledger unbrella and also explore all potentials from deploying them to everyday software solution scenarios.

Scope

The scope is to define concepts regarding smart contracts and to produce material to describe the various aspects and meanings, trying to come up to standards or good practices. The audience for smart contracts is large and spans from researchers, developers, businessmen, decision makers, policy makers, law makers, software users, citizens to governments, banks, financial institutions, insurance providers, etc

Some research topics and separation of interest are:

  • Models of and mechanism for computation, such as:

  - Stack machines vs automata vs manipulating algebraic types embedded in a another language

  - Scope for less expressive languages (that may have more tractability for formal methods)

  - Execution determinism, and sources of non-determinism in existing languages

  - Cost models for metering computation (e.g. gas)

  - Paradigms for smart contracts - e.g. 'identity-oriented', functional, process-oriented - extent to which smart contracts benefit from special purpose languages

  - Parallelism of execution, state independence (i.e. parallel processing in a single block)

  • Formal guarantees on outputs of smart contracts
  • Smart contract packaging, code reuse, and dependency auditing
  • Smart contracts as representatives of obligations and fulfilment (i.e. 'law')

  - What properties should smart contracts with 'legal charge' have?

  - What relations can smart contracts have with actual contracts and agreements?

  - At what scale to smart contracts best contribute to certainty and execution of agreement?

  - What relationship do legal smart contracts have to models of computation?

  • Generation of smart contracts from existing artefacts (natural language, business process, state machines, non smart-contract code)
  • Data structures and state

  - Verifiable and authenticated data structures - e.g. merkle dags, log-backed maps,

  - How best to expose through smart contract languages/libraries

  - Sharing state backends across execution engines

  - Conflict-free and additive data structures

  • Privacy

  - Multi-party secure computation

  - Differential privacy

  - Zero knowledge and practical building blocks - types of commitments and witnesses

  • Tooling and compilers for existing virtual machines

  - WASM/eWASM

  - EVM

  - WebIDL

  • Design Patterns for Smart Contracts

Work Products

The anticipated initial work products will include (but is not limited to):

  • White Paper about smart contracts and the respected aspects concerning their usage

  • Taxonomy for smart contracts in every day scenarios
  • Find practical ways to connect stuff 'out there' with things we could use within our implementations
  • Performance of smart contracts across the different HL DLT frameworks
  • Identifying use cases, case studies

  • Survey the state of the art and academic content 
  • Produce 'Requests To Build' that could feed into feature planning on the different Hyperledger frameworks

  • Exploring security, privacy, legal boundaries

  • Proposing solutions to the problems identified

  • Identifying conferences or other opportunities to connect face to face

Collaborators (other groups)

This working group will collaborate with other Hyperledger working groups, the TSC, Linux Foundation staff, and the project maintainers. Especially the following Working Groups and their subgroups will be of great importance in achieving the anticipated results.

Workgroups

SIGs

Interested Parties

The following individuals have already expressed an interest in joining this working group, and we hope they will become contributors over the first year:

NameCompanyEmail Address
Silas DavisMonaxsilas@monax.io
Dan Selman Accordmonax.io@lists.hyperledger.org
Vipin Bharathan
vipinsun@gmail.com
Mohan VenkataramanChainyardmohan.venkataraman@chainyard.com
Prasanna BadmanabhanPichain LTDprasanna@pichainlabs.com

Proposed Chair

The following individual has volunteered to serve as the initial chair for the working group:

I Sofia Terzi am volunteering to run this group initially, unless somebody else with interest in the group volunteers.

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