❓What Are Intents

The Key to Effortless Blockchain Interaction

In the blockchain ecosystem, there's an ongoing quest for a foundational shift to pave the way for the next wave of user adoption. This involves a deep reevaluation and reinvention of how on-chain transactions are executed, centralizing around the innovative concept of "Intents.” Humans desire outcomes, while the “how” is a side effect that must be solved to fulfill their wishes. Thinking about the desired outcome is more natural than defining all the necessary steps. Intents specify the desired outcome without detailing the exact execution path.

In the realm of blockchain, the introduction of Intents marks a significant shift from traditional transaction-centric models. Intents represent a user's desire for a specific outcome on the blockchain without an intricate understanding of the underlying transaction execution involving a gas token, chain IDs, nonce, and other technical execution elements. Intents promise to abstract away all superfluous details irrelevant to the user outcomes, i.e., “I want 100 A-TOKENS, and I am willing to pay at most 50 B-TOKENS. “

Sequence vs Outcome

Transactions form the backbone of Ethereum. Without a transaction being signed and broadcasted, no action takes place. No change is made in the state, no contract is updated, no tokens are transferred, and no NFTs are minted. Transactions are a crucial aspect of Ethereum, but it's time to start thinking about them and their complexities a lot less.

Intents describe the desired system state but lack the specificity of transactions. They must still be credible and act as a commitment.

Transactions define the execution path.

Intents define the outcome of the execution.

In programming, these are very similar to two fundamental programming archetypes:

Imperative and Declarative Programming.

Not all developers have realized that they have expressed their programming Intent declaratively in an SQL statement. For example, the following SQL expression to query a database system does not specify the algorithm to filter or sort the database users.

SELECT FROM users WHERE age >= 18

Database vendors may opaquely upgrade internal database algorithms in newer releases, but the outcome will remain the same: Users 18 years or older.

Challenges and Solutions

Adopting Intents poses challenges such as accurately interpreting user desires and ensuring security. Solutions include advanced smart contract algorithms and user-friendly interfaces that translate high-level Intent into secure, efficient blockchain actions.

Coming up next

In the following section, we will explore the principles that underpin the successful implementation of Intents: Simplicity, Optimization, and Security.

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