Softwares are used today in a large range of critical applications, from our cell phones and cars to our medical devices or nuclear programs. We trust them with our most important information, and for executing the most crucial tasks. But as they become more sophisticated and complex than ever, the potential risks of unexpected errors increases, and so does the need for a formal method of verifying program behavior.
The solution comes in the name of formal verification, which is the process of verifying the correctness of the design using mathematical techniques. Like a construction worker, a programmer relies on a blueprint describing the critical specifications of the program to design its algorithm. It might not be obvious at first sight whether the final product matches exactly its intended specifications. However, the process of formally verifying the program converts both the blueprint and the algorithm into mathematical representations, which are then checked against each other by mathematical proof, allowing to evaluate all possible scenarios at once.
But the need for security also extends to smart contracts. The DAO, a project of creating a decentralized autonomous organization, was hacked due to its vulnerabilities in its code after raising USD 150 million worth of ether. The event initiated a massive debate inside the Ethereum community, and eventually, the Ethereum blockchain was hard forked to restore the stolen funds.
It is possible to run formal verification on a lot of different blockchain eco-systems, but Tezos has been from the start aiming to optimize this process and allow to code more secure smart contracts than its competition. Launched in 2018, Tezos is a smart contract platform with three main characteristics: its on-chain governance and self-amending protocol, its liquid proof-of-stake model, and finally its programming language designed for formal verification.
This language is called Michelson, it is technically a stack-based and strictly typed language. It has similarities with the bytecode of the Ethereum smart contracts but is more secure, and more readable. A programmer might design its smart contract for Tezos using a high-level language, but it will eventually be compiled down to Michelson.
With this unique functionality, Tezos positions itself as the most suited candidate for corporate and government projects using blockchain technology. This translates into their adoption strategy, targeted towards those institutions, by partnering with Banque de France and Ubisoft for example.
In conclusion, Tezos offers an essential tool for the production of smart contracts that will surely be very seductive for all individuals and companies valuing security.