Bitcoin developer Robin Linus has proposed BitVM, enabling expressive off-chain smart contracts in Bitcoin without requiring a soft fork.
- BitVM introduces Turing-complete contracts to Bitcoin.
- No soft fork needed: contracts executed off-chain, verified on-chain.
- Potential applications range from gaming to bridging BTC to other blockchains.
- Robin Linus leads the project, crediting Ethereum research in white paper.
In a stride toward enhancing the Bitcoin network’s capabilities, Robin Linus, spearheading the ZeroSync project, unveils a white paper introducing BitVM – a method that will allow Bitcoin to execute more expressive off-chain smart contracts without requiring a soft fork.
The white paper, titled “BitVM: Compute Anything on Bitcoin,” is underpinned by Ethereum’s optimistic rollups, fraud proofs, and the latest advancements in Merkle trees.
Hot Off the Press: BitVM White Paper Drops! Experience a groundbreaking computing approach for smart contracts on #Bitcoin 👀
Unlock functionalities previously assumed to demand a soft fork with these enhanced smart contracts.
— RichQuack (@RichQuack) October 10, 2023
BitVM with Ethereum-Like Contracts
Turing completeness, a core feature of BitVM, denotes the capability to theoretically tackle any computational issue.
In practice, this means that Bitcoin contract logic would be executed off-chain, whilst verification remains a task for the Bitcoin network, paralleling Ethereum’s optimistic rollups.
The BitVM structure leans heavily on a challenge-response model, complemented by fraud proofs, where a “prover” makes claims and a “verifier” utilizes fraud proofs to penalize any false assertions by the prover.
While the existing state of Bitcoin allows basic operations like signatures and timelocks, BitVM is poised to diversify these capabilities, paving the way for applications that span from gaming – think Chess or Poker – to the pivotal validation of Bitcoin contract proofs.
Linus flags that it could also facilitate bridging BTC to alternative blockchain networks or establishing a prediction market, among other use cases.
However, this model is not without constraints. Its application is bound to a two-party context, involving a prover and a verifier, and demands considerable off-chain computation and communication to execute programs.
Linus emphasizes that the upcoming milestone encompasses the complete implementation of BitVM and Tree++, a dedicated high-level programming language devised for constructing and debugging Bitcoin contracts.
The introduction of BitVM stands as a testament to the ongoing evolution of blockchain technologies and their incessant intertwining.
It’s a harmonious blend of Bitcoin’s renowned security and Ethereum’s flexible programmability.
While skeptics might point to the model’s confinement to a two-party setting as a limitation, advocates might see this as a streamlined approach to execute contracts without overloading the blockchain.
What remains pivotal is how BitVM navigates through the technical and communal challenges ahead. Its success could seamlessly bridge the capabilities of two of the most prominent cryptocurrencies, intertwining their functionalities and perhaps, user bases, to an unprecedented extent.