Smart contracts are programs that execute in blockchains such as Ethereum to manipulate digital assets. Since bugs in smart contracts may lead to substantial financial losses, there is considerable interest in formally proving their correctness. However, the specification and verification of smart contracts faces challenges that rarely arise in other application domains. Smart contracts frequently interact with unverified, potentially adversarial outside code, which substantially weakens the assumptions that formal analyses can (soundly) make. Moreover, the core functionality of smart contracts is to manipulate and transfer resources; describing this functionality concisely requires dedicated specification support. Current reasoning techniques do not fully address these challenges, being restricted in their scope or expressiveness (in particular, in the presence of re-entrant calls), and offering limited means of expressing the resource transfers a contract performs.
In this paper, we present a novel specification methodology tailored to the domain of smart contracts. Our specifications and associated reasoning technique are the first to enable: (1) sound and precise reasoning in the presence of unverified code and arbitrary re-entrancy, (2) modular reasoning about collaborating smart contracts, and (3) domain-specific specifications for resources and resource transfers, expressing a contract's behaviour in intuitive and concise ways and excluding typical errors by default.
We have implemented our approach in 2vyper, an SMT-based automated verification tool for Ethereum smart contracts written in Vyper, and demonstrated its effectiveness for verifying strong correctness guarantees for real-world contracts.