Chainlink Rolls Out Verifiable Randomness For Ethereum
On May 11, Chainlink (LINK) announced the launch of a verifiable random function (VRF) which enables generation of on-chain trusted randomness. It is undergoing security testing on the testnet where it is available for integration testing. Initially, it will work with the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain.
Benefits to gaming
Although this may seem like something that only mathematicians or rocket scientists would care about, it has quite a few very practical applications. Chainlink’s founder and CEO, Sergey Nazarov, detailed how it would solve some of the problems inherent to gaming:
“In blockchain gaming, the thesis is that my decentralized blockchain-based game will be something that’s immune to the problems of centralized gaming. And the problems of centralized gaming is mainly focused around ideas that either the people who created the game, manipulated it to their benefit, or they devalued the goods in the game or they show they closed down or something.”
Don’t be fooled by bad randomness
Choosing the right source of randomness is crucial in developing secure and fair applications. For instance, if one uses a compromised source of randomness when creating a seed for their Bitcoin (BTC) wallet, it may lead to the user losing their assets.
All procedures for generating random numbers can be classified into two main categories: true and pseudo-random. True randomness can be generated with some basic procedures like throwing a dice or flipping a coin, or by observing natural phenomena like the decay of radioactive elements or atmospheric noise. The pseudo-randomness is generated computationally, usually with the help of a pseudorandom number generator (PRNG).
In practice, the latter is used much more widely because it can be easily integrated into different computer applications. Making sure that the random numbers generated by these algorithms are really unpredictable is the main point. Until now, even decentralized applications had to trust a centralized source of randomness.
Chainlink’s on-chain verifiable randomness
Chainlink’s approach to the issue leverages old cryptographic primitives and benefits from decentralized incentivization. A smart contract which wants to use Chainlink’s VRF, passes along a seed to the node, which then uses its secret key to generate a random number. The result together with the cryptographic proof is published on-chain. Anyone can verify it with the oracle’s public key, the same way as a Bitcoin signature, can be verified with the public key. A malicious node cannot return a forged random number because the signature will not match. The worst it can do is not return a response, which will be punished monetarily.
The first use case explored by the firm is an Ethereum game called PoolTogether. Although it is called a “game”, it is more of a mechanism which encourages savings. The interest that participant accrue gets bundles and then, periodically, a single participant is chosen to get the reward. Until now, the admin of the game was relying on a highly centralized source of randomness, which could potentially become a source of contention.
Lately, Chainlink has been one of the more active projects, revealing a number of partnerships and integrations. Also one of its early investors expects Link soaring above $25 in the near future.