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Report: Most Ethereum smart contracts are replicas of one another

Ethereum smart contracts lack diversity, this being a threat to the network’s stability, as revealed by a group of analysts from Northeastern University and the University of Maryland in a recent report. According to their findings, 60% of existing Ethereum smart contracts have never been used, whereas only 10% of them are truly unique.

The said research paper reads that most Ethereum smart contracts are “direct- or near-copies of other contracts,” which brings in a potential risk of vulnerable or buggy pieces of code spreading across the entire network.

The university analysts have analyzed Ethereum smart contracts’ bytecodes during its first 5 million blocks, which covers almost a three-year period from the moment when the network was launched back in 2015.

The researchers have found out that, on average, three out of four Ethereum smart contracts are created through copying other contracts. Moreover, over 60% of contracts “have never been interacted with”, with less than 10% of contracts being truly unique. The research claims that such a significant code reuse may have dire consequences for users, though also pointing out that this reuse is also likely a “driving force behind Ethereum’s success”.

More than once, Ethereum network has suffered from “high-profile bugs”, resulting in over $170 million worth of tokens being frozen, the report notes.

Considering the low diversity of smart contracts on Ethereum as a potential risk to its whole blockchain ecosystem, the researchers mentioned that Ethereum has become a subject of “high-profile bugs” several times, resulting in over $170 million worth of cryptocurrency being frozen. The research concluded that multiple implementations of “core contract functionality” on Ethereum would eventually provide “greater defense-in-depth to Ethereum.”

The researchers concluded that further refinement of Ethereum’s “core functionality” is badly needed in order to achieve “greater defence-in-depth to Ethereum”.

Last week, Vitalik Buterin, who is the founder of Ethereum, stated that his team is preparing to release a large-scale network update dubbed “Serenity”. This update is supposed to enable the transition of the entire network to Proof-of-Stake (PoS) algorithm and sharding.

Back in August, Buterin, who was earlier included into the top list of the world’s most influential young people “40 Under 40” by Fortune magazine, shared his vision of the crypto market as being too focused on cryptocurrencies, while “the amount of sustainable usage of blockchain is very low”.