An Ontology for Smart Contracts

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by Darryl McAdams | July 3, 2017


This paper presents an ontology (collection of concepts) that attempts to outline the essential features of many smart contracts. The paper begins with a general overview of the proposed ontology, gives analyses of a number of interesting smart contracts, and proposes certain ontologies that a well-designed blockchain should be able to support.



In the context of smart contracts, a number of concepts arise over and over, which constitute this domain’s ontology. This paper assumes that smart contracts fundamentally are stateful computations consisting of some state value which changes over time, and a fixed, unchanging transition function. Precisely what constitutes a state, and how many states there are, is entirely dependent on the smart contract, and might be as simple as a token representing a state in a finite state machine (e.g. q3) or it might be some richer piece of symbolic data.