Random Numbers in the Ethereum Blockchain

In Ethereum, there is no clear, true random number generator.

One might think to use block.timestamp, but this is not an actual true random number because it can be manipulated by the miner to a certain extent, as can all metadata.

Three solutions exist to this problem now: (1) Bitcoin Block Headers (2) Hash-Commit-Reveal (3) RANDAO

Let’s explain each of these solutions.

(1) Bitcoin Block Headers are - 80-byte headers ‘belonging to a single block which is hashed repeatedly to create proof-of-work’ (Source: Bitcoin Block Header).

(2) Hash-Commit-Reveal is a scheme that generates a true random number. It involves the first person creating a random number, hashing that number, then the hash is posted, then at a later point in time, the person reveals the number behind the hash so it can be verified by all parties. containing a timestamp that stores it’s hash rather than the actual timestamp, then commits the hash to the blockchain, which is possible to be revealed to the miner after completing a proof-of-work problem.

(3) RANDAO is a random decentralized organization smart contract that uses all participants to ultimately generate a random number.

Which is the best solution?

The RANDAO smart contract is what is recommended, as it is the most secure and reliable method of generating a true random number.

Sources:

Bitcoin Block Header
Udemy Blockchain Course. Lecture 61.

Published 23 Jan 2019

founder && full stack && ethereum developer.
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