PArSEC: Executing Smart Contracts in Parallel

Digital Currency Initiative

Parallelized Architecture for Scalably Executing smart Contracts (PArSEC)


James Lovejoy, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

Anders Brownworth, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

Dr. Madars Virza, MIT Media Lab

Dr. Neha Narula, MIT Media Lab

PArSEC is the result of the DCI’s latest research on flexible technical architectures for centralized digital currency at scale. PArSEC supports a wide class of smart contract runtimes, including the Ethereum Virtual Machine. It supports flexible research and testing: the system can support clients easily updating their contracts’ logic, or even switching to different smart contract runtimes, without having to understand and alter the core architecture of the underlying transaction processor. Our research focused on smart contracts because they provide the highest degree of expressivity and functionality to users. In addition to a research paper and executive summary, PArSEC is free and open source software, publicly available on GitHub. We invite researchers and policymakers to work with us to develop the system further.

Download the PArSEC Technical Paper

View the PArSEC Codebase

Download the PArSEC Executive Summary

A Framework for Programmability in Digital Currency


Nikhil George, MIT Media Lab*

Tadge Dryja, MIT Media Lab*

Dr. Neha Narula, MIT Media Lab

*At the time the work was conducted

Programmability is a key feature of the PArSEC system. To ensure the accessibility of this critical new research, MIT Digital Currency Initiative has developed "A Framework for Programmability in Digital Currency.” This document provides a common vocabulary for practitioners and policymakers, dispelling common misconceptions about programmable money and highlighting different choices in programmability and the tradeoffs and risks of each choice. 

The framework presents a taxonomy for what we describe as the different “levels” of programmability, from application programming interfaces (APIs) to stateful smart contracts. The authors conclude that programmability can be enabled at different locations in digital currency systems and that further research is needed to understand if and how to apply programmability in future systems.

Download the Programmability Framework