- BitVM offers a mechanism for executing Ethereum-esque smart contracts on Bitcoin.
- Utilizing Turing-complete capabilities, BitVM provides off-chain operations with on-chain verifications akin to Ethereum’s optimistic rollups.
A recent Cointelegraph post, underscored by a tweet from Collin Brown, delved into the intriguing advancements proposed in the BitVM white paper. It draws a promising picture of Bitcoin’s potential to accommodate Ethereum-style smart contracts without necessitating any soft fork.
🚀 Breaking: BitVM Proposes Game-Changing Smart Contracts for Bitcoin!
🪙 BitVM enables Ethereum-like contracts on Bitcoin without a soft fork.
— Collin Brown (@CollinBrownXRP) October 10, 2023
According to the Oct. 9 white paper christened “BitVM: Compute Anything on Bitcoin” by ZeroSync’s head, Robin Linus, Bitcoin can now embrace Turing-complete contracts without meddling with its core consensus protocols. For those unfamiliar, a Turing-complete system can potentially tackle any computational conundrum.
BitVM’s modus operandi is quite intriguing: the logic driving the Bitcoin contracts would function off-chain, while their verification would be anchored on-chain, mirroring Ethereum’s optimistic rollups approach.
BitVM’s Framework and Potential
Diving deeper into its architecture, BitVM banks on fraud proofs coupled with a challenge-response design. Here, a “prover” rolls out claims, while a “verifier” wields a fraud proof to penalize any fabricated assertions by the prover.
Shining light on Bitcoin’s current stature, Linus conveyed that it’s tethered to elementary operations like signatures, timelocks, and hashlocks. But BitVM might usher in a new era by accommodating a plethora of captivating applications. Linus envisions potential apps spanning from games such as Chess and Go to the verification of validity proofs in Bitcoin contracts. He even alluded to the potential to bridge Bitcoin with other blockchains, pioneer prediction markets, or fashion unique opcodes.
However, it’s worth noting that BitVM’s approach is constrained to interactions between a prover and a verifier. Consequently, a substantial volume of off-chain calculations and communication is pivotal for executing these programs.
The Road Ahead
Linus has now set his sights on fully integrating BitVM and concurrently launching Tree++, an avant-garde programming language tailored for crafting and refining Bitcoin contracts.
Additionally, the Taproot soft fork, which materialized in November 2021, empowers BitVM. Ethereum’s groundwork on optimistic rollups and research on Merkle trees also played a role in shaping this innovative white paper.
The Bitcoin community’s response to BitVM has been mixed. While prominent figures like Eric Wall displayed cautious optimism, Bitcoin Core contributor Adam Back advised restraint. Still, there’s a palpable excitement surrounding the potential applications of BitVM in the Bitcoin realm.
Notably, a blockchain enthusiast named “dotta” highlighted an existing proof-of-concept on GitHub, while another user, Sam Parker, addressed Bitcoin maximalists’ concerns, emphasizing that BitVM is purely opt-in, and users retain the autonomy of choice.
It remains to be seen how BitVM will evolve, but the potential implications for Bitcoin are undeniably profound.