The Ethereum Foundation is mulling over launching a $15 million venture to explore the viability of building a Verifiable Delay Function (VDF), a budding technology capable of adding a delay in decentralized applications, which the firm aims to use as a proof system to be implemented on Ethereum’s highly-anticipated major network upgrade dubbed Serenity.
VDF is a new cryptographic primitive capable of generating randomized, unpredictable, and unbiased numbers which, if integrated into the Ethereum codebase, could serve as a strategy for getting entropy for validator and committee selection in PoS networks, a feature on which decentralized applications on the platform can leverage.
Explaining the firm’s move to explore VDF’s feasibility, Ethereum Foundation researcher Justin Drake was quoted as stating:
“We’re basically doing all this groundwork to make an informed go, no-go decision on the bigger project. The bigger project is 15 million dollars on that order of magnitude. So, we want to make sure that if we do go ahead it’s going to be successful.”
As for making the final decision whether or not to push through with the study, Drake noted that the company is taking a multi-layered approach, stating that:
“To an extent, we need the buy-in from the wider Ethereum community that this is a good idea and that the foundation should be spending this money. This is something where we can reach rough consensus on public calls.”
As it stands, Ethereum would still need to conduct multiple tests before finally deciding whether or not the technology would be integrated into Serenity. As Drake further detailed, among these includes an experiment participated by hundreds of random individuals across the globe to test the security of random numbers generated by a VDF. In addition, Ethereum will also be hosting a global circuit competition in which participants would be required to develop an ASIC firmware capable of running VDF computations.
As Drake further discussed:
“In the VDF, we basically need an ASIC which is very low latency, that is very fast. The so-called circuit – the way transistors connect in the ASIC – needs to follow a clever algorithm … We don’t need it to be the fastest in the world, just fast enough.”
Aside from Ethereum’s slated competition, decentralized app network Chia has also previously held an open circuit tournament last month for building VDF, setting a precedent for other firms looking to host similar events.
At present, a total of 11 blockchain startups have so far begun exploring building VDFs, each with a unique strategic roadmap.