Felix Xu is the Co-Founder of ARPA Network, a decentralized computation network based on threshold cryptography and its use cases.

Why you should listen

Randcast is ARPA’s first product, an on-chain verifiable random number generation service with an easy-to-use Smart Contract SDK that can be directly integrated into DApps to provide out-of-the-box functionalities like rolling dice, shuffling an array, generating in-game item attributes based on probability, generating random in-game maps or dungeons, and deciding the probability outcomes of a lottery.

Using a random number in a smart contract is a common requirement. For example, a game may need to generate a random number to determine the lottery winner. However, the blockchain is deterministic, and the result of a smart contract is determined by the input. That is to say, a blockchain is a decentralized and trustless environment where the random number generation can be easily manipulated by any party in the network. e.g., if we use a block hash or timestamp as the source of randomness, the miners can manipulate it to their advantage by either withholding the block or manipulating the timestamp.

The solution is to use an external source of randomness. Randcast is a service that generates random numbers through a decentralized network and provides them to smart contracts. The process of generating randomness is both transparent and verifiable. It is facilitated by a group of nodes that utilize the threshold BLS signature scheme. Before returning the requested random number to the user’s smart contract, the randomness is verified on-chain by the Randcast Adapter smart contract.

Randcast and the ARPA Network solve another major issue with random number generation. Randomness generated by a single off-chain entity could potentially be tampered with or manipulated by that entity. Randcast solves this issue by using multiple nodes in the ARPA Network to generate randomness through BLS Threshold signature tasks, which means that no single node has the ability to manipulate the final randomness result.

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