Smart Contract Layer

Zilliqa comes with its own smart contract language called Scilla. Scilla short for Smart Contract Intermediate Level Language is designed as a principled language with smart contract safety in mind.

Scilla imposes a structure on smart contracts that makes applications less vulnerable to attacks by eliminating certain known vulnerabilities directly at the language-level. Furthermore, the principled structure of Scilla makes applications inherently more secure and amenable to formal verification.

Some of the design choices in Scilla include:

  1. Separation Between Computation and Communication: Contracts in Scilla are structured as communicating automata: every in-contract computation (e.g., changing its balance or computing a value of a function) is implemented as a standalone, atomic transition, i.e., without involving any other parties. Whenever such involvement is required (e.g., for transferring control to another party), a transition would end, with an explicit communication, by means of sending and receiving messages.

  2. Separation Between Effectful and Pure Computations: Any in-contract computation happening within a transition has to terminate, and have a predictable effect on the state of the contract and the execution. In order to achieve this, Scilla draws inspiration from functional programming with effects in distinguishing between pure expressions (e.g., expressions with primitive data types and maps), impure local state manipulations (i.e., reading/writing into contract fields), and blockchain reflection (e.g., reading current block number).

Scilla Interpreter

Scilla currently comes with an interpreter written in OCaml. The interpreter provides a calling interface that enables users to invoke transitions with specified inputs and obtain outputs. Execution of a transition with supplied inputs will result in a set of outputs, and a change in the smart contract mutable state.

More details on the interpreter are available in Scilla Docs.