NFT is not incalculable, understand the basic idea and design plan of computable NFT


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Computable NFT makes “quantity” its core attribute while retaining the powerful personalized description ability of NFT, enabling it to support mathematical operations.

Original title: “Computable NFT: Concept, Meaning and Core Ideas”
Written by: Meng Yan, Wang Wei and Zhou Zhiqiang

The Solv team has started to formally write a document, and will submit a new encrypted digital asset standard document through the EIP process in the near future. At present, we internally call it vNFT, which is positioned as the “Computational NFT (Computational NFT) standard”. As far as we know, if passed, this will be the first international standard for encrypted digital assets proposed by a team with a Chinese background.

The vNFT created by Solv is dedicated to adding computability to the non-homogeneous token NFT, that is, while retaining the powerful personalized description ability of the NFT, “quantity” becomes the core attribute of its NFT so that it can support computation. Computable NFT is a “super NFT” compatible with ERC721, and has the specialties of ERC20 and ERC721. It is a general non-monetary digital asset description protocol and can be widely used in digital artwork, digital publications, digital tickets, and standardized virtual goods. Description and representation can also become an ideal protocol for offline physical goods mapping on the chain.

Figure 1. Computable NFT, vNFT and Solv Vouchers’ positioning in the entire token technology system

Computable NFT is the latest development of the token technology system and a new field with significant research and application value. The Solv team has taken the lead in developing a reference implementation of a computable NFT on Ethereum, and it has been verified in the Solv Vouchers product. Since the computable NFT pioneered by Solv is called Voucher, we call this token standard vNFT before the relevant proposals have been standardized.

vNFT is a platform-independent digital asset standard. It is currently implemented on Ethereum and will soon be implemented on BSC, Polygon and other chains. In the future, it is planned to be implemented on various mainstream public chains such as Solana, NEAR, Polkadot, and Ethereum L2.上achieved.

Readers who have studied digital assets will not be difficult to see that the combination of computability and NFT will inspire tremendous innovation. We will not only disclose all standard documents according to the requirements of EIP, but also fully open source the code of the implementation at the right time. We welcome digital asset innovators from all over the world to promote the application of this technology with us.

This article succinctly introduces the basic ideas, design schemes and application significance of computable NFT. In order to make the expression more precise, the following conventions are made on the terms:

Computable NFT (Computational Non-fungible Token) refers to NFT with computability.

vNFT is a computable NFT implementation protocol proposed by the Solv team. We will apply according to EIP and strive to make vNFT an industry standard for computable NFT. Without misunderstanding, this article sometimes uses vNFT to represent a specific token.

Voucher generally refers to a specific computable NFT that follows the vNFT standard. Anyone can create a voucher for a specific application based on vNFT, such as a voucher representing a bill of lading, a voucher representing a title certificate, a voucher representing an investment share, and so on. Without misunderstanding, this article sometimes uses voucher to represent a specific token.

NFT is not incalculable

The main advantage of FT is that it can be calculated, so it is suitable for expressing purely numerical objects such as currency and points. The main advantage of non-homogeneous tokens (NFT) lies in its strong descriptive ability, and each NFT can have different properties and content. The so-called descriptive ability is high efficiency in another way. If there are 100 different items to be described in token, if FT technology is used, such as the ERC20 standard, then 100 different ERC20 contracts must be written and 100 different ERC20 tokens issued.

To make an analogy, in ERC20, in order to produce 100 different products, 100 different factories must be built first, and then each factory only produces one type of product, so the efficiency is naturally very poor. In NFT, you only need to create an ERC721 contract, then cast 100 different NFTs, and write different data content in each NFT. This is like building a factory to produce 100 different products, and the efficiency is naturally higher.

The current NFT is mainly created based on the ERC721 protocol. Each of the NFTs created by this agreement is unique, neither of the same kind nor detachable. It’s like this factory has a weird temper. Each product can only produce one, not more than one. Therefore, ERC721 has a huge flaw, that is, it cannot be calculated.

Why is it not calculable? In ERC721, any two NFTs cannot be added, and even the addition cannot be done. Naturally, other calculations cannot be performed.

Due to the influence of preconceived concepts, many people take its incalculability for granted when talking about NFT, and even regard it as the essential attribute and source of value of NFT. Many people think that since it is meaningless to add an apple to a pear, then an NFT and another NFT can of course not be added, let alone more advanced calculations such as number multiplication.

But in fact, if you think deeply, you will realize that NFT is not necessarily incalculable.

Take artwork and collectibles for example, Leonardo’s “Mona Lisa” and Yan Zhenqing’s “Manuscript of Sacrifice to Nephew” are naturally unique, but prints, posters, stamps, star cards, rubbings of rubbings, etc. can be used. It is a limited edition, not unique. For example, one edition of stamps is limited to one thousand sets. Although any two sets of stamps are strictly different, the difference between them is so small that we can ignore their differences and look at them abstractly. The success is exactly the same.

In other words, this kind of ignorance and abstraction is essentially a process of re-homogenization. We conceptually transform a group of items that are originally non-homogeneous and different from each other into the same homogeneous items. Since it is homogeneous, it can be calculated in many scenarios. One of the most prominent scenarios is price calculation. For example, the price of a set of stamps is 200 yuan, then the price of another set of stamps of the same edition is 200 yuan. Few people will ask for different prices just because the two sets of stamps differ by a few pixels. Similarly, if the current price of a three-year Treasury bill with a face value of 100 yuan is 90 yuan, then the current price of 10 Treasury bills with the same face value should be 900 yuan. No one will give a different valuation because one of the treasury bills has a corner. .

It can be seen that the incalculability of NFT is by no means unreasonable. For a large class of NFTs, computability will bring great convenience to their practical applications.

Which NFTs are computable? The main ones are as follows:

  • Digital representation of standard products

  • Various documents and certificates

  • Digital financial tickets and standardized contracts

  • Limited-release digital content

  • Limited-release virtual goods

  • Shareable rights certificate

Abstraction and classification are the basis of NFT computability

No two leaves are exactly the same in the world, and no two apples are exactly the same. As long as you don’t enter the microcosm, there will be only one thing after another in this world. We can never add one apple to another, nor can we get the concept of “two apples”. Therefore, Lu Xun said that there are two trees outside the wall, one is a jujube tree, and the other is also a jujube tree. This is nothing to say about literature.

Fortunately, human beings have a great cognitive ability, which is abstraction and classification. The so-called abstraction is actually ignoring the special features of an item purposefully, and emphasizing the commonality between it and some other items, and placing these items under a certain concept based on this commonality and grouping them into one category. It is precisely because of this ability that people can develop concepts such as “apples”, “leaves”, “tigers”, and “jujube trees”, and under certain circumstances, it is allowed to add and calculate between similar items. When we say “two apples”, we actually abstract two objects that are classified as the same thing, eliminate the differences between them, perform a “re-homogenization”, and then make one by one. The operation of adding one to two can create the concept of “two apples”.

Such a set of logic also applies to NFT. The two NFTs are of course different, but if we apply abstraction and classification and ignore their differences, then we can eliminate the differences between them and “homogenize” them again, so that addition and classification can be performed. A variety of calculations including number multiplication.

However, ERC721, as the current mainstream NFT standard, unilaterally emphasizes the uniqueness of each NFT, and does not provide a standard way to abstract and classify NFTs. This is the fundamental reason why ERC721 NFT is not computable, and it is also the starting point for the innovation of computable NFT.

The basic idea of ​​vNFT

vNFT is a specific standard for computable NFT. Its purpose is to add computability to NFT. Specifically, it allows batch creation of a large number of similar NFTs in vNFT. This is like the vNFT factory, which can produce unique products or mass-produce a product according to requirements, with the best flexibility and efficiency.

vNFT is designed based on the following three basic ideas:

Quantity as the core attribute of vNFT

ERC721 believes that every NFT is unique, so its default number is 1. Since they are all 1, there is no need to show them explicitly.

Computable NFT is different. A computable NFT must contain a quantity attribute, which is the basic reason why it can support mathematical calculations. To this end, we put quantity as a core attribute in vNFT. For example, if you use a vNFT to represent your digital business card, and its quantity is 100, it means that it is not a business card, but a collection of 100 business cards. Of course, this number can also be 1.

NFT is not incalculable, understand the basic idea and design plan of computable NFT Figure 2. vNFT takes quantity as a core attribute

It can be seen that a vNFT can be either a single and unique NFT, or the sum of several similar vNFTs. For example, a bond with a face value of 100 yuan can be regarded as the sum of 100 bonds with a face value of 1 yuan. A bill of lading containing 30 items of a certain model can be regarded as the sum of the bill of lading of 30 single items. Solv sets “quantity” as the first-class attribute in the vNFT, which is juxtaposed with the ID information of the vNFT, so that the above addition operation becomes possible. In other words, the addition of two vNFTs is actually a kind of merging, which is the operation of adding the quantitative attributes of the two while keeping the other attributes unchanged. This is the fundamental starting point for computability.

The inverse operation of addition is subtraction, so with the attribute of quantity, a direct consequence is that vNFT may be split into zeros. A vNFT can be split into two parts, as long as the sum of the quantity attributes of the two vNFTs is equal to the original vNFT quantity attributes. For example, in vNFT, a bond certificate with a face value of 100 yuan can be split into two bonds with a face value of 20 yuan and 80 yuan respectively. In fact, in the Solv Vouchers platform, users can not only split, but also partially transfer. At present, NFT sharing and splitting are a hot topic, and there are some feasible technical solutions, but they are relatively cumbersome. In vNFT, it is very natural and simple to support NFT share, split and partial transfer.

The quantity attribute in vNFT is very flexible in practice. It can express the number of shares, and can also express various metrics such as area, length, weight, and price. The vNFT standard allows developers to impose various restrictions on these quantities, such as the maximum amount, the minimum amount, whether it can be split, the smallest unit of split, etc., which can meet the needs of various application scenarios.

SLOT mechanism

SLOT is the core innovation of vNFT, so it must be explained a little bit.

The English SLOT means “slot”. In modern electronic equipment, the slot is a standardized adaptation interface. For example, on the motherboard of a computer, there are a number of standard slots. No matter which manufacturer produces the board, as long as it follows the relevant standards and can be inserted into the slot, it can work normally. Different types of boards produced by different manufacturers are of course different from each other, but under the abstraction and unification of the slots, their differences are ignored, but are abstracted as completely identical and homogeneous standard parts.

vNFT chooses this term to represent the abstraction and classification mechanism of computable NFT, precisely because its working mechanism is quite similar to a slot in a computer. In vNFT, a SLOT represents a category, which delineates a set of specific attributes in implementation. Any two vNFTs, as long as they have this set of attributes, and their attributes are exactly the same, they can be “inserted” into this slot, that is, they can all be classified into the category represented by this SLOT. Among. All vNFTs that can be classified into the same SLOT are considered to be of the same kind, because they can also be added and operated.

As an example. Suppose we create a vNFT category for a certain book warehouse to represent the book delivery order, for example, use a list to represent the delivery right of 100 books. The representation of this list in vNFT is as follows:

NFT is not incalculable, understand the basic idea and design plan of computable NFT Figure 3. The vNFT representing the book delivery order

What role can SLOT play? A SLOT is a subset of attributes in vNFT. Assuming that a SLOT delineates three attributes (book number, warehouse number, book title), the meaning is that as long as two vNFTs are exactly the same in these three attributes, they can be classified into one category.

NFT is not incalculable, understand the basic idea and design plan of computable NFT Figure 4. A subset of the SLOT attributes in the book delivery order

For example, we see two vNFTs, both of which contain these three attributes, and they are both (“ISBN 978-7-5217-2263-5”, “Beijing Haidian 3 warehouse”, “Blockchain and asset securitization” ), then no matter what other attributes the two vNFTs have, and no matter whether their other attributes are the same, we can think that the two vNFTs belong to the same slot, that is, they belong to the same category. So they can be added together. When they are added, the two vNFTs are merged into one, and the new vNFT maintains the values ​​of these two attributes and adds up the values ​​of the quantity attributes.

NFT is not incalculable, understand the basic idea and design plan of computable NFT Figure 5. Adding vNFT of two book delivery orders

It can be seen that SLOT is an abstract classification mechanism, which allows us to deliberately ignore certain aspects of things and classify different things into the same category based on some commonalities. Once classified, they can be “re-homogenized” for numerical calculations.

It is worth pointing out that the SLOT mechanism actually allows individual vNFTs to personalize themselves, that is, to declare that they do not belong to a certain category. In practice, the designer of a voucher can put some special attributes in the SLOT, so that a specific vNFT can make itself “out of the ordinary” by assigning values ​​to these special attributes. In other words, if SLOT is a kind of “rehomogenization” mechanism, then these special attributes in SLOT are a kind of “anti-rehomogenization” mechanism. This shows the flexibility of the SLOT mechanism. This is a more advanced usage of the SLOT mechanism, so I won’t expand it in detail here.

Compatible with ERC721

Computable NFT can be realized in a variety of ways. For example, ERC1155 is also a computable NFT implementation standard in a sense, but vNFT has many differences in design. One important difference is that vNFT is compatible with ERC721, and each vNFT is also a ERC721. Readers familiar with object-oriented programming can easily understand that vNFT can be regarded as a derived class of ERC721, so if an application supports ERC721, then it already supports vNFT. In contrast, ERC1155 started anew and created a completely new token standard. Each application needs to write code specifically to support ERC1155. There is no doubt that this backward compatibility of vNFT greatly reduces the threshold for its application. In practice, the various vouchers created by Solv can be directly managed in various NFT wallets, and can also be circulated in NFT markets such as OpenSea, which reflects the advantages of this design choice.

Another advantage of choosing compatibility with ERC721 is dynamics and flexibility. This is particularly prominent when compared with ERC20 and ERC1155. To facilitate understanding, we still use the analogy of the previous factory. ERC20 is a factory that can only mass-produce the same product, so if you want to create a new product, you must create a new factory. ERC721 is a perverse factory, it can produce a variety of products, but each product can only produce one, never repeat, and can not produce the same product in batches. ERC1155 is a factory with multiple production lines. Each production line can manufacture the same product in batches. However, if you want to add a new type of product, you must add a new production line and require all distribution, sales channels and application scenarios. All have been upgraded to support this new product.

The vNFT is equivalent to a smart factory. It can produce unique products or mass-produce similar products. It also allows channels and users to customize these products individually, and when new products are added, it does not require others to do structural work. Adjustment. Obviously, compared to ERC20, ERC721 and ERC1155, vNFT has the greatest flexibility and dynamics.

Application scenarios of vNFT

Computable NFT actually re-homogenizes non-homogeneous tokens. Therefore, it not only has the abstractness and computability of homogeneous tokens, but also has the flexibility and descriptive ability of NFT. The best balance point. In the field of overseas digital asset research, some people refer to this token as a “semi-homogeneous token”, which is attracting more and more attention.

The following uses vNFT as an example to discuss some possible applications:

  • Use vNFT to make digital business cards, star cards, admission tickets, stamps and other limited-issue items;

  • Use vNFT to represent asset certificates that can be shared and shared, such as land or house title certificates,

  • Use vNFT to represent proof of natural quantitative characteristics, such as bill of lading, redemption coupons, coupons, point cards, etc.;

  • Use vNFT to represent the proof of ownership of virtual real estate with area attributes;

  • Use vNFT to represent virtual items in the game;

  • Use vNFT to make exquisite function tickets, which not only have specific functions in the system, but also have artistic and collectible characteristics;

  • Use vNFT to produce encrypted artworks that are issued in limited quantities and can be signed and commented by collectors;

  • Use vNFT to make financial contracts and financial instruments.

The above list is far from exhaustive of vNFT application scenarios. There is no doubt that in almost every field of the digital economy in the future, computable NFTs can play a key role, and vNFT, as the native standard for computable NFTs, will surely be widely used.

vNFT progress

The Solv team began to study computable NFT in October 2020, and formally established the technical idea in December. The design and reference implementation of vNFT were completed in the first quarter of 2021, and the Solv Vouchers Ethereum mainnet was officially launched on June 17, 2021. Solv Vouchers itself represents the token share with the release time lock. It is compatible with ERC721, and can be split, merged, and partially transferred. It can perform linear operations such as addition and number multiplication. Each voucher has a well-designed appearance. Developed distinctive digital assets.

The innovation of Solv Vouchers has been recognized by many international excellent DeFi projects and agreements. At present, more than 20 DeFi projects have established strategies with Solv, including DODO, Parsiq, Bounce, NAOS Finance, Ankr, Saffron Finance, Impossible Finance, etc. The affirmation from peers fully proves the value and effectiveness of the innovation of vNFT and Solv Vouchers.

However, the research on computable NFT is still in the early stages, and the Solv team is also committed to continuously enhancing the functions of the vNFT standard and Vouchers products. The new version of Vouchers we are about to release will have customizable release conditions, post-asset replenishment and other functions. In the future, it will also realize the packaging and layering of multiple heterogeneous vNFTs in some way, and its capabilities will be greatly improved.

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