Vitalik Buterin & J.Poon launch Plasma smart contracts

Vitalik Buterin and Joseph Poon lhave announced Plasma smart contracts 
10 August

What is smart contracts?

Smart contracts are computer protocols intended to facilitate, verify, or enforce the negotiation or performance of a contract. 

The aim with smart contracts is to provide security that is superior to traditional contract law and to reduce other transaction costs associated with contracting. The most prominent smart contract implementation is the Ethereum blockchain platform.

As Vitalik Buterin explains, in a smart contract approach, an asset or currency is transferred into a program “and the program runs this code and at some point it automatically validates a condition and it automatically determines whether the asset should go to one person or back to the other person, or whether it should be immediately refunded to the person who sent it or some combination thereof.”

Plasma: Scalable Autonomous Smart Contracts

Today, Vitalik Buterin shared a link leading to a description of Plasma Smart Contracts - the new born child of Joseph Poon and  Buterin himself:

There's no website for the project yet, however, there's some essential information about Plasma provided. Thus, according to the report, Plasma is "a proposed framework for incentivized and enforced execution of smart contracts which is scalable to a significant amount of state updates per second (potentially billions) enabling the blockchain to be able to represent a significant amount of decentralized financial applications worldwide".

The very first sentence of the abstract, however, seems so complex that most of the users have difficulty understanding it:

Plasma Smart Contracts discussed on Plasma Smart Contracts discussed on

As Buterin and Poon continue, these smart contracts are "incentivized to continue operation autonomously via network transaction fees, which is ultimately reliant upon the underlying blockchain (e.g. Ethereum) to enforce transactional state transitions".

We propose a method for decentralized autonomous applications to scale to process not only financial activity, but also construct economic incentives for globally persistent data services, which may produce an alternative to centralized server farms.

Plasma Team (Buterin & Poon)

Furthermore, Plasma is composed of two key parts of the design: Reframing all blockchain computation into a set of MapReduce functions, and an optional method to do Proof-of-Stake token bonding on top of existing blockchains with the understanding that the Nakamoto Consensus incentives discourage block withholding. As the developers claim, this construction is achieved by composing smart contracts on the main blockchain using fraud proofs whereby state transitions can be enforced on a parent blockchain.

We compose blockchains into a tree hierarchy, and treat each as an individual branch blockchain with enforced blockchain history and MapReducable computation committed into merkle proofs. By framing one's ledger entry into a child blockchain which is enforced by the parent chain, one can enable incredible scale with minimized trust (presuming root blockchain availability and correctness).

Plasma Team (Buterin & Poon)

Plasma also has mitigations for the issue of the greatest complexity around global enforcement of non-global data revolving around data availability and block withholding attacks. Thus, it allows for exiting faulty chains while also creating mechanisms to incentivize and enforce continued correct execution of data.

On top of that, Plasma enables persistently operating decentralized applications at high scale.

In case this explanation seems too complex to you, too, here's an easier one kindly provided by one of the users:

Plasma Smart Contract discussion on Plasma Smart Contract discussion on

According to the Plasma project team, the draft is in-progress and may be frequently updated in the next week(s). 


Ethereum network is still unstable

Byzantium had executed on Monday, but developers aren't ready to call the software transition complete
18 October

Organizations and developers are better off refraining from launching large projects until the Ethereum network is fully stable after the recent Byzantium update. This is said by the Gavin Wood, Parity Technologies head and reported by the Coindesk.

Since new versions of the software were released just days before the fork, much of the network has not yet been updated. So, at the time of press, slightly more than 25% of Parity customers updated, in Geth this indicator is slightly higher - about 59%. So, in total, the update was made about 45% of the network.

Another aspect that should also be taken into account is the short time for testing. In particular, the developers recalled previous versions of the software, discovering critical errors that could make the network vulnerable to DoS attacks or lead to incompatibility between nodes and, as a consequence, network sharing.

Therefore, the question of how safe the network is at the moment is fully justified and, taking into account what has been said above, remains open. This is exactly what Gavin Wood warned, recommending at this stage to refrain from launching large-scale projects.

In addition to the nodes that have yet to update, there is also a possibility that in the current Byzantium software there may be bugs that endanger the security of the Ethereum network. The most dangerous among them is a bug of consensus, in which nodes can not communicate. Its result can be the separation of the block-man into several incompatible chains.

As far as is known, at the moment developers are conducting extensive tests, trying to detect such bugs before they are active. As Gavin Wood says, if the network does contain such a bug, it will take several days to prove itself.

I don't think anyone believed the network was going to self-combust on block 4,370,000.

Gavin Wood
Head, Parity Technologies

The head of Parity Technologies is also convinced that if problems are discovered, the Ethereum development team will quickly release new updates designed to prevent any harm to the platform.