July 30, 2018

Cardano smart contracts testnet IELE launches

Developers can run programs with increased confidence

Gerard Moroney

Project Manager

IOHK

Today we launch the second Cardano testnet, which is for the IELE virtual machine (VM) and follows our recent launch of the KEVM testnet. The technology is not only an important step on the Cardano roadmap, but also for the industry – in offering robust and reliable financial infrastructure. Developers now have the opportunity to explore the smart contracts technology that will be offered as part of Cardano, and to give us their feedback, which we look forward to receiving over the coming months.

Why smart contracts?

In many business processes that involve the exchange of value (including money, property or shares) intermediaries are involved in checking that the terms of the agreements are complete and unambiguous as well as satisfied before the exchange can take place. These intermediaries add to the cost of a transaction. The technology of smart contracts (also known as self-executing contracts or blockchain contracts) has emerged as a way of addressing the need for this verification by reducing the time, third-party involvement, and cost of reliably executing an agreement.

Smart contracts are software programs that are immutably stored on the blockchain. They are executed by virtual machines and store their data in that same immutable infrastructure. Smart contracts offer great benefits to businesses looking to optimize their operations. Many industries – including automotive, supply chain, real estate and healthcare – are investing in research to understand how this technology can make them more competitive.

What smart contracts technology is currently available?

There are a few players on the market that offer smart contract capabilities including Hyperledger, NEO and Ethereum. The technology is evolving to meet the market’s demand for platforms that are fast, secure, accurate and can be trusted. Many businesses have tried to deploy broad-scale applications on these platforms and have run into problems (DAO hack, Parity bug and POWH coin to name a few) with these evolving platforms. Despite widespread publicity the most serious bugs continue to reappear in smart contracts. There is a lot of room for innovation here and IOHK is working hard to become a leader in this technology.

What Is IELE?

IELE (pronounced YELL-eh) is a virtual machine, with an attendant low-level language, designed to execute smart contracts on the Cardano blockchain. It has been developed by Runtime Verification in partnership with IOHK, which provided funding for the project. The word IELE refers to nymphs in Romanian mythology.

How does IELE improve on smart contracts platforms?

IELE is designed to meet the evolving needs of the market for smart contracts by:

  • Serving as a uniform, lower-level platform for translating and executing smart contracts from higher-level languages. It supports compilation from Solidity and many more languages are set to come.

  • Providing a uniform gas model, across all languages.

  • Making it easier to write secure smart contracts. IELE is ‘correct by construction’ so many errors discovered after the fact (during code execution) in other VMs are not possible in IELE.

  • Using a register-based as opposed to stack-based architecture.

What can I do with IELE that I could not do before?

IELE contains two parts: a correct-by-construction VM designed using the K framework, and a correct by construction, Solidity-to-IELE compiler, also designed using the K framework. When you write your Solidity program and try to compile it using the Solidity-to-IELE compiler, it will catch many of the errors that previously would have been missed and that have caused many smart contracts to fail or be exploited.

In addition, as IELE development progresses, we plan to deliver ‘surface languages’ allowing programmers proficient in Javascript, Python and other languages to have an easy way to integrate smart contracts into their applications.

What do I do next?

The IELE language and its VM are completed. It is now in the process of being integrated into Cardano, which will provide a blockchain to store and retrieve data. While the integration is taking place, developers have the opportunity to use the IELE VM along with the Mallet and Remix tools to create and execute smart contracts on the IOHK testnet site.

You can also start getting a feel for the capabilities of both IELE and its VM – and even learn to write IELE code directly!

Join the conversation!

Related video updates

PMO Project Goguen June 2018 Update Prof. Grigore Rosu on Formal Design, Implementation and Verification Prof. Grigore Rosu on Inspirations Behind The K framework Prof. Grigore Rosu on Semantics Based Compilation - IELE Testnet IELE Testnet - Getting Started with Mallet IELE Testnet - Smart Contracts in IELE IELE Testnet - No DAO Attack with IELE

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Artwork: Mike Beeple