In this position paper, we consider some foundational topics regarding smart contracts (such as terminology, automation, enforceability, and semantics) and define a smart contract as an agreement whose execution is both automatable and enforceable. We explore a simple semantic framework for smart contracts, covering both operational and non-operational aspects. We describe templates and agreements for legally-enforceable smart contracts, based on legal documents. Building upon the Ricardian Contract triple, we identify operational parameters in the legal documents and use these to connect legal agreements to standardised code. We also explore the design landscape, including increasing sophistication of parameters, increasing use of common standardised code, and long-term academic research. We conclude by identifying further work and sketching an initial set of requirements for a common language to support Smart Contract Templates.

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Nicola Atzei, Massimo Bartoletti, Tiziana Cimoli




Complex Systems, Computation and Language, and Computational Finance