Inside MAST: The Little-Known Plan to Advance Bitcoin Smart Contracts

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Despite being the largest and longest-running blockchain, bitcoin isn’t exactly known for its programming features.

In an age when new blockchain projects continually promise bigger and better (and platforms like ethereum openly court more novice coders), bitcoin has even prized its simpler, safer construction. But that’s not to say that work isn’t ongoing to bring more advanced functionality to the network.

If and when a certain contentious code change upgrade called SegWit is deployed (and this remains an if), protocol developers say that it could pave the way for a range of new technical improvements. This includes the long-standing Merkelized Abstract Syntax Trees (MAST) upgrade, a concept packaged into an official proposal by Bitcoin Core developer Johnson Lau in early 2016.

Another new piece of cutting-edge cryptography, MAST doesn’t enable new smart contracts per se, but by reducing the size of the data necessary for bitcoin scripts, it enables “complicated redemption conditions” that aren’t currently viable partially because of space constraints.

Lau told CoinDesk:

“MAST makes complicated smart contracts become very small in size. This reduces demand on block space and improves privacy, as you only reveal a small part of the smart contract to the public blockchain, so it’s

Read more ... source: CoinDesk

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