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Virtual Machine for Blockchain Launched by Runtime Verification and IOHK


Runtime Verification, a University of Illinois start-up founded by computer science professor Grigore Rosu, and blockchain research and development company IOHK have announced the official release of IELE, a next-generation virtual machine for the blockchain. The technology will be deployed over the coming months in Cardano cryptocurrency, designed and built by IOHK. IELE is designed to bring high level of security and dependability to blockchain systems and reduce the risk of vulnerabilities that can lead to hacks.

Professor Rosu stated: “IELE is the crown jewel of our research over the past decade, combining our experience in designing and formalizing many programming languages and virtual machines, with the latest, cutting-edge research in formal semantics and program analysis and verification. IELE is a critical component of a large-scale research and development project funded by IOHK, whose ultimate objective is to set, by example, a high standard for the third generation of cryptocurrencies in terms of scalability, security, and programmability.”

The IOHK research and development team worked with Runtime Verification and with several students at the University of Illinois, led by Professor Rosu, to develop IELE to the highest mathematical standards using formal methods and programming language theory. IELE’s design, definition, and implementation follow a semantics-first approach to implement the verification of smart contracts.

Professor Rosu added: “Working with IOHK on this project has given us access to resources and the opportunity to work with some of the brightest minds in the cryptography industry. With this support, we were able to build a next-generation virtual machine that will optimize and secure smart contract interactions, bringing an added level of reliability to advanced blockchain systems. We will continue to build on our achievements to optimize our virtual machine and give it additional real-world use cases.”

IELE will serve as a uniform, lower-level platform for translating and executing smart contracts from higher level languages. The technology will also make it easier to develop automated techniques that mathematically verify and prove smart contracts are correct, creating a simplified system for writing secure smart contracts. In addition, IELE will provide a uniform gas model across all programming languages, creating a general design philosophy for gas calculations. IELE was inspired by LLVM, a compiler infrastructure and collection of tools that are used to construct, optimize and produce intermediate and binary machine code. IELE is a variant of LLVM specialized to execute smart contracts on the blockchain.

CEO of IOHK, Charles Hoskinson remarked: “I’m incredibly proud to launch IELE in a partnership between Runtime Verification and IOHK. RV is the leader in its field and has honed its expertise through years working with NASA, Boeing, Toyota, and many others. IELE is game changing when it comes to executing smart contracts. It is highly secure, and its advanced functionality will include backwards compatibility with many programming languages.”


Matthew Warner
Based near Windsor, England, Matthew Warner is an enthusiast for innovative, cutting edge technologies. He is a B.Eng. graduate in engineering with honors from the University of Warwick and also holds an PGCE in education degree. Matthew is a member of Mensa.