RChain platform executive summary


The RChain execution model is derived from the syntax and semantics of rho-calculus. The rho-calculus is a variant of the π-calculus that was introduced in 2004 to provide the first model of concurrent computation with reflection. “Rho” stands for reflective, higher-order.

The π-calculus is the first formal system to successfully model networks where nodes may regularly join and drop from the network. It assumes fine-grained concurrency and process communication i.e. two processes may be introduced by a third process.


Rholang is a new language for writing smart contracts that run on the RChain virtual machine.


  • Staking tokens are those required to run consensus, including the RChain Rev token. Additional staking tokens may be introduced through official software releases. A staking token is required to pay for node resources.
  • Phlogiston is RChain’s measure of the cost of resources (similar to gas in Ethereum), and it is multi-dimensional and depends on usage of compute (depending on instruction), storage (depending on size and duration), and bandwidth (quality-of-service and throughput) resource


Used loosely as ‘contract’, a smart contract is a process with:

  1. Persistent state
  2. Associated code
  3. Associated RChain address(es)

Contracts are:

  • triggered by messages
  • messages are sent by agents
  • agents can be either other smart contracts or external systems/users
  • messages are sent in named channels
  • a transaction is an acknowledgment that a message has been received in a channel
  • transactions can be grouped in a transaction block

Named channels are:

  • “locations” where otherwise independent processes synchronize.
  • used by processes to send and receive messages between each other
  • provably
  • unguessable and anonymous unless deliberately made known by someone


Casper is a group of proof-of-stake algorithms that validate transactions to keep the blockchain consistent.

RChain Storage

Storage is asynchronous and decentralised, appears as ‘local’ to nodes.

A variety of data is supported, including public unencrypted json, encrypted BLOBs, or a mix. This data can also be simple pointers (e.g. URLs) or content-hashes referencing off-platform data stored in private, public, or consortium locations and formats.

SpecialK is the name of the tool for data access.

Differences with Ethereum platform

  • Rholang and RhoVM both implement concurrency natively -> makes the platform much more scalable (mostly in the sense of number of nodes and transaction throughput)
  • Ethereum transactions fail completely if gas runs out midway, and the whole transaction is then rolled back. RChain transactions are much more stateful because they work in steps.