The problem: Given 1024-bit input x, compute the verifiable delay function ‘h=x^(2^t) mod N’ as fast as possible.
If you can understand the above, you could be in for a portion of a $100,000 prize – that is, if you can then beat the others attempting to calculate the answer with the greatest speed improvement.
The highly technical conundrum has been posed to coders in a competition supported by Amazon Web Services (AWS) that aims to “change the face of blockchain,” as well as how hardware is designed and made.
Launched by the VDF Alliance, the competition aims to solve how to calculate something called the verifiable delay function (VDF) in the shortest time.
In its announcement, AWS paraphrases Justin Drake, a researcher with the Ethereum Foundation, explaining that “VDFs are a low-level building block in cryptography, barely more than a year old. It’s the “V” or ‘verifiable’ in VDF that makes the approach so unique.”
“It’s trustless,” according to Drake. “For the first time, it adds this notion of time with which you can build all these cool things.”
Included in the “cool things” promised by VDF tech is “unbiased proof of randomness.” Effectively, it could enable trustless, truly random number generators on blockchains. Currently, these are pseudo-random and can be exploited by bad actors by effectively being able to guess the number. With true randomness, that wouldn’t be possible.
If the tech can be advanced sufficiently it could help to move blockchain such as ethereum from the energy-intensive and hence costly proof-of-work algorithm to one called proof-of-stake.