Solidity++ (S++)


Aleksandar Veljković


February 24, 2022

Executive Summary

Writing efficient code in modern languages is mostly reflected in writing efficient algorithms and business logic. Writing efficient code in Solidity is mostly reflected in thinking as an assembler, moving focus from logic implementation to memory optimisations and low level hacks. Highly optimised code may become unreadable and unmaintainable with possible bugs hidden between the lines of bit level operations. To solve this problem, this project proposes multiple automatic optimisation techniques that will be all summed up into a transpiler and Solidity language extensions called Solidity++.


Javascript introduced classes in ES6 which are very useful construct for writing clean and readable code. Browser, however, could not understand ES6 code so the code needed to be transpiled into ES5. Programmers could use classes to write logic and transpiler took care of transforming the code into an optimised ES5. The same parallel could be made with Solidity. Programmers should be focused on writing business logic in Solidity-like S++ code and the code should be automatically transpiled into efficient Solidity code. S++ should not drastically modify basic Solidity syntax, but introduce new annotations and helper functions that would enable efficient transpiling to pure Solidity code.

There are multiple ways to improve the smart contract code on bytecode level. This project will focus on improvements on Solidity code level but the end product - optimised Solidity code will be compiled into bytecode and further optimisations on bytecode level can be performed.

Optimisations on code level include variable declaration ordering (state variables, local variables and structs), which correlates with the order of memory block stacking and directly influences the costs of storing the data. Some variables might occupy more space than needed to store values in ranges that require less bits than the closest Solidity data type. The most extreme example is boolean data type which stores true/false values, that could be stored in 1 bit of memory, but really use an entire byte. Accessing storage structs requires more operations than accessing a local variable, which becomes obvious problem when it is done in loops. Any fixed sized data type, like, int64, bytes32 and so on, are always cheaper than dynamic data types, such as string, and those dynamic types should be replaced with fixed ones wherever is possible (wherever the value range of the variable is known). Cost reduction can even be achieved by deleting variables - freeing blockchain space. Execution of a code that performs delete command on some variable/mapping value/… rewards executor with a refund of up to 50% of transaction cost, depending on the amount of freed space. There were some attempts to remove this feature ( but so far it is still valid and exploitable. Usage of lazy evaluation is, an in other languages, preferred way of saving execution steps, which for Solidity directly equals saved money.

Existing solutions

There are optimisations on loop level [1] that do not include variable level optimisations but recognise code patterns that are classified into several categories that can be automatically optimised. Also, there are papers [2] that uncover additional space for optimisation, such as removing conditions that always equal the same value or values in the loops that never change. There are also blog advices for writing optimised smart contracts, such as [3], that can and will be referenced when implementing automatisation methods.

Goals & Methodology

So far, there is no tool or IDE that either automates these optimisations or includes multiple improvements in one software. The goal of this project is to evaluate feasibility of implementing such tool and Solidity language extensions that could allow its easier implementation. End PoC toll planned as a result of this project focuses on space optimisation techniques and includes:

  • Implementing parser for Solidity language that enables language semantic and syntax analysis
  • Implementing optimisation methods:
    • Variable declaration reordering
    • Struct values declaration reordering
    • Defining data type extensions for storing custom-sized data (i.e. integers with values between 20 and 40) and implementing language parser extensions
  • Implementing generator for optimised code

Results & Discussion

Proto-parser for Solidity code, which includes basic PoC constructs was implemented, as well as variable declaration reordering to enable more efficient space usage; The plan is to extend the parser and to include other optimisation techniques listed in the previous segment.

Variable declaration reordering

Variable declaration reordering is a problem synonymous to binning problem, where the goal is to pack objects of a certain size into bins of fixed size in any order using the least number of bins. The problem is a known optimisation problem which comes from NP (non-deterministically polynomial) class and has no known efficient solution. The approach for implementing variable declaration reordering was using branch-and-bound algorithm which resulted in decent reordering time of less than 10 seconds for up to 16 variables in one block. The reordering was performed per block. The same algorithm will be performed on structs.

Data type extensions

To enable extensions of data types there are two steps:

  • Defining language extensions
  • Map variables to bits of memory blocks and create getters and setters

New data types will be mapped to memory blocks, variables of 256 bits, on bit level using bit masks. Packing of those values will be optimised using the previously defined variable stacking algorithm

Proposed language extension of integer data types consists of using the existing base type (int, uint) followed by value range given in brackets. Example custom type uint<10, 1030> represents unsigned integer values between 12 and 98. The optimiser would determine the closest known data type that covers the range (in this case uint16). The real number of bits required to store value 1030 is 11 and the closest data type is 16 bits long which means that 5 bits are redundant. First level of optimisation may be using 11 bits mapped to a memory block of 256 bits and implementing getters and setters to interact with the value, which is casted to uint16 when used. But there is another hidden optimisation that can further improve space management. Notice that the upper limit of the interval is indeed 1030 which required 11 bits to store but the lower limit is 10 which means that total number of values is 1030 - 10 = 1020 and that many values can be stored in 10 bits of memory, so the optimisation will take into account the overall interval range and generate getters / setters that will include offsets before storing/loading values.

Boolean type optimisation will be straight forward and, while it will keep the type name, it will be mapped to only one bit of memory.

String data types would be extended with indicator of the number of characters as string<10> will represent fixed sized string that will be mapped to bytes.

Code generation

The parser generates three-like structure of the Solidity code. Every statement or declaration is stored as an object with parameters related to the nature of the statement/declaration. For example, declaration uint256 private var1 is stored as VariableDeclaration object with attributes type=uint256, modifier=private identifier=var1. Each object contains information to reconstruct itself back to string from. This type of organisation enables easy traversal through code, easy recognition of higher-level constructs, such are infinite loops, and easy reconstruction to Solidity code (in this case - optimised code).


The feasibility of the proposed project is confirmed by implementing PoC prototype, the optimisation evaluation on the existing smart contracts is yet to come but even the simple reordering of variables that reduces the number of used memory blocks clearly shows benefits of money savings (saved memory) and time savings (eliminated thinking about such generic problem that can and should be automatised). The borderline is - it makes no harm to use it, it can only be an improvement.

The value of this project is assumed, but still has to be confirmed. That is why the next step of this research should be further assessment by target user group, which should include developers that are actively using Solidity in their everyday work and domain experts.



[1] B Mariano, Y. Chen, Y. Feng Demystifying Loops in Smart Contracts [2] T. Brandstaetter Optimisation of Solidity Smart Contracts [3] ::: {#refs} :::