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Plutus language changes

Language versions

See the documentation on language versions <what_are_plutus_language_versions> for an explanation of what they are.

Plutus V1

PlutusV1 was the initial version of Plutus, introduced in the Alonzo hard fork.

Plutus V2

PlutusV2 was introduced in the Vasil hard fork.

The main changes in PlutusV2 were to the interface to scripts. The ScriptContext was extended to include the following information:

  • The full "redeemers" structure, which contains all the redeemers used in the transaction
  • Reference inputs in the transaction (proposed in CIP-31)
  • Inline datums in the transaction (proposed in CIP-32)
  • Reference scripts in the transaction (proposed in CIP-33)


Built-in functions and types

Built-in functions and types can be introduced with just a hard fork. In some cases they are also available only in particular language versions. This section indicates in which hard fork particular built-ins were introduced, and any language version constraints.


This is when the majority of the built-in types and functions were added to PlutusV1. You can find an enumeration of them in add cross-reference link : [plutus-core-spec].


All of the built-in types and functions from PlutusV1 were added to PlutusV2.

The following built-in function was added to PlutusV2 only (i.e., it is not available in PlutusV1).

  • serializeData (proposed in CIP-42)


Plutus and cryptography teams at IOG, in collaboration with MLabs, continue to develop Plutus capabilities. Starting with the release of Cardano node v.8.8.0-pre, PlutusV3 is available on SanchoNet, introducing the Cardano community to governance features from CIP-1694 in a controlled testnet environment.

PlutusV3 is the new ledger language that enhances Plutus Core's cryptographic capabilities, offering the following benefits for the smart contract developer community:

  • Providing an updated script context that will let users see CIP-1694 governance-related entities and voting features
  • Interoperability between blockchains
  • Advanced Plutus primitives
  • Well-known and optimal cryptographic algorithms
  • Support for porting of smart contracts from Ethereum
  • Creating sidechain bridges
  • Improving performance by adding a sums of products (SOPs) feature to support the direct encoding of different data types.

Sums of products

PlutusV3 introduces sums of products - a way of encoding data types that leads to smaller and cheaper scripts compared with Scott encoding, a common way of encoding data types in Plutus Core.

The sums of products approach aims to boost script efficiency and improve code generation for Plutus Core compilers. The changes involve new term constructors for packing fields into constructor values and efficient tag inspection for case branches, potentially running programs 30% faster. For an in-depth discussion, see CIP-85.

New cryptographic primitives

PlutusV3 provides new built-in primitives that expand the language's capabilities.

  • BLS12-381: A curve pairing that includes 17 primitives that support cryptographic curves. This is a benefit to sidechain specification implementation and Mithril integration.
  • Blake2b-224: A cryptographic hash function for on-chain computation of public-key hashes for the validation of transaction signatures. Supports community projects and contributes to Cardano's versatility.
  • Keccak-256: A cryptographic hash function that produces a 256-bit (32-byte) hash value, commonly used for secure data verification. Supports Ethereum signature verification within scripts and cross-chain solutions.

Bitwise primitives

PlutusV3 initially brings several new bitwise primitives (with more to come at later stages). The introduction of CIP-58 bitwise primitives will enable the following features:

  • Very low-level bit manipulations within Plutus, supporting the ability to execute high-performance data manipulation operations.
  • Supporting the implementation of secure and robust cryptographic algorithms within Plutus.
  • Facilitating standard, high-performance implementations for conversions between integers and bytestrings.

PlutusV3 adds two bitwise primitives: integerToByteString and byteStringToInteger. The remaining primitives will be added to PlutusV3 gradually and will not require a new ledger language.