The Massa project introduces new autonomous smart contracts to improve the blockchain trilemma of scalability, decentralization, and security.
Initially developed in secret by three French researchers between 2017 and 2020, and only made public in the past 2 years, the Massa blockchain is finally emerging from the shadows and standing out.
The Massa team’s mission is to disrupt the blockchain ecosystem with several new innovations, including the first-ever autonomous smart contracts.
It’s time for you to discover this new blockchain, which offers a new approach to solving the famous “trilemma” described by Vitalik Buterin, which summarizes the constraints that every blockchain faces: Scalability, Security, and Decentralization.
Blockchain itself is a technology born in the ‘90s. It became quite popular in 2008 with the creation of Bitcoin by the famously anonymous Satoshi Nakamoto, inventor of the decentralized, anonymous Peer-to-Peer value exchange model.
Then in 2015, Ethereum appeared on the scene, introducing the concept of smart contracts, which execute transactions stored in the form of algorithmic instructions. Smart contracts recently facilitated the explosion of DApps (decentralized applications).
However, Ethereum, just like Bitcoin and all the blockchains that have appeared since, is also dependent on certain compromises between scalability (i.e. the volume of transactions that can be carried out by the network every second), security, and decentralization.
Concerning Bitcoin and Ethereum, for example, it is at the level of scalability and decentralization (measured by the NDC: Nakamoto Decentralization Coefficient) where the problem lies.
As decentralization is partial, the scalability of networks is consequently slowed down according to the interests of sub-groups of miners and validators. The difficulties encountered by Ethereum to move from Proof-of-Work consensus to Proof-of-Stake are a perfect example of this.
This migration has been on the table for quite a while now, without nobody being able to make it a reality just yet.
True decentralization is at the core of the Massa blockchain. From its inception, it has been designed around the concept of an unprecedented consensus, which is based on Proof-of-Stake but has the technological capacity to perform more than 10,000 validated transactions per second (scalability).
The testnet, developed by an ever-growing community, leaves no room for doubt: the technical potential of this so-called Blockchain 3.0 is incredible.
Indeed, several big names in the sector are already starting to talk about what could be the very first “completed” blockchain, anticipated for so long by Web 3.0 enthusiasts.
The decentralized and scalable blockchain.
Massa, the crypto French touch
Massa was a research project started by three friends back in 2017: Sébastien Forestier, Damir Vodenicarevic, and Adrien Laversanne-Finot. Sébastien, the CEO, obtained a Ph.D. in the field of artificial intelligence, and notably was doing research in the field of robotics in the teams of Inria after a passage through the ENS.
Damir, in charge of development and technology in the team, holds a Ph.D. in theoretical physics. He won the gold medal at the IGEM competition in 2013 for his scientific research with genetically modified bacteria.
Adrien is in charge of the company’s strategy. Like Sébastien, Adrien is an alumnus of Inria and has worked on the development of several algorithms for robots being subjected to unfamiliar environments in order to give them new skills.
It is in 2020 that the Massa project passed a significant milestone with the publication of a Technical Paper (Blockclique: Scaling Blockchains through Transaction Sharding in a Multithreaded Block Graph), as well as the foundation of the Massa Labs company.
The enterprise organized a fundraising event that brought in 5 million euros last year, while, in order to maintain maximum decentralization, taking care to limit the maximum possible investment per address, individual, or entity donor.
About a hundred participants, individuals, and organizations took part in the private sale.
A technical innovation
As can be seen in detail in its, Massa incorporates, since its inception**, some major innovations and a combination of concepts never before seen** in a blockchain:
- DAG (Directed Acyclic Graph) Multithreaded with a unique multi-chain system (32 chains running in parallel according to the network needs)
- Proof-of-stake-based blockchain protocol resistant to Sybil attacks
- A dedicated token giving full control to the community (governance)
- Autonomous smart contracts
In July 2021, the testnet was launched, a sort of “beta version” of the mainnet (the official network), allowing the community to work on refining the platform before the mainnet launch.
At the same time, a medium blog was also launched, allowing the community to track the technical progress and news surrounding the Mass project, as well as the prizes won during presentations.
As of the beginning of 2022, the Massa project is in Phase 12 of its testnet:
- Over 6,900 validator nodes in the network
- +1000 validated transactions per second
- 95 blocks per second
At the moment, the French team behind Massa is composed of about 10 developers, spread over 5 different countries. All of them use Blockchain technology and the Rust programming language.
They are executing the next steps of the roadmap, aiming to reach scalability of about 10,000 transactions per second, with a delay of 0.5 sec for each block creation (i.e. 2 blocks per second).
Comparison of the different types of existing blockchain
Autonomous smart contracts
As explained by founder Damir Vodenicarevic, Massa was first founded to try to solve the problems of decentralization and scalability currently faced by existing blockchains. The team incorporated the idea of autonomous smart contracts when writing their specifications.
In their view, а type of contract that executes without a transaction has long been long overdue in the blockchain space. Such contracts offer extraordinary prospects for DApps and blockchain platforms. Damir sums it up this way:
“Why would you advocate for decentralization when you continue relying on obviously centralized means of interacting with your Smart Contracts?”
But let’s look at what an autonomous *smart contract really is.* In concrete terms, it is a smart contract that at any given moment is capable of performing a pre-determined operation on the blockchain.
For example, currently, the execution of a smart contract on Ethereum depends on a trigger in the form of a transaction on the blockchain.
Thanks to autonomous smart contracts, Massa reduces the need for bots or human interaction, thus pushing through the limits of decentralization still present on other blockchains.
The best part: while it is possible to store more than just transaction or smart contract information on the Massa blockchain, it is also possible to store data on it, and allow any other smart contract to access it later, autonomously.
There is no other blockchain today that uses this type of smart contract. Some infrastructures use centralized bots, but this approach is, of course risky, because of its centralized nature, especially in the event of option liquidation.
Massa project figures
April 2022: World’s first functional demo of autonomous contracts
Thanks to the autonomous smart contract and the blockchain hosting of our web application, we are able to offer the first 100% decentralized DeFi experience. Such technological innovations allow us to provide fully autonomous execution of our users’ latent trading orders plus optimal liquidation management, all coupled with increased security for our users.“
The CEO of Dusa (AMM on Massa)
On April 13, 2022, the Massa Network team presented the first POC (Proof-of-Concept) of autonomous smart contract, which was executed live in front of the audience at the Paris Blockchain Week Summit.
It ran on an autonomous smart contract on the same model as Conways’ Game of life. Multiple developers were then able to practice directly with this new blockchain tool during the Lyon hackathon, an event at which the Massa team was also present.
Decentralization is not negotiable
Currently, the Massa blockchain is still under development. What is certain is that the French team of this great project is innovating to propose alternatives to the problems encountered across other ecosystems. Massa is a completely decentralized blockchain, controlled by thousands of people around the globe.
Thanks to its revolutionary multi-chain technology, the project leaders say they are ready for mass adoption. As far as the transaction and block-validation protocol is concerned, Massa brings a novel solution to increase the security of the network.
But it is specifically in the area of smart contracts that Massa truly stands out. This technology brings the concept of decentralization, so fundamental in the world of cryptocurrencies and blockchain, a little closer to reality.
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