Given a set of operations and a corresponding set of costs for each operation we can deterministically run computation for any number of cost units by summing up the costs on the execution of each operation. We call the cost units here "gas" and it stands as a estimation for computational time.

Metering in WASM

The following has been implemented here

Metering by Branch

To meter Webassembly we first define all the operation that can cause branches.

const branching_ops = new Set(['end', 'br', 'br_table', 'br_if', 'if', 'else', 'return', 'loop'])

We also define a map that contains each opcode and its associated cost. We will refer to this as the cost table. The Default cost table is defined here

cost_table = {
  'op': cost

Lastly we need a metering statement, we will uses

i64.const <cost>
call $meter

And a metering function $meter. The meter function has a signature of (type (func (param i64))). Internally this function should keep a running sum and if that sum grows larger than a given threshold, end the program's execution. The metering function can be imbedded in the binary itself or can use wasm's import to define it externally.

Then given an array of opcodes we iterate the array and divided into segments that start with one of the branching_ops

const code = [...opcodes]
const segments = []
let current_segment = []

for (let op in code) {
  if (branching_ops.has(op)) {
    current_segment = []

Then for each segment we calculate the sum of the operations. At the beginning for each segment we then append a metering statement.

metered_segments = => {
  let cost_of_segment = segment.reduce((sum, op) => {
    return sum + cost_table[op]
  }, 0)

  return getMeterStatement(cost).concat(segment)

Lastly we concatenate all the metered segments together

metered_code = metered_segments.reduce(a, b => {
  return a.concat(b)

Special metering: memory

Metering memory makes use of the separate memory system of WebAssembly: - the module parameter memory - the two instructions: - grow_memory - current_memory

Memory size is expressed in pages, where a page is 65536 bytes.

The module parameter specifies the initial page count and an optional maximum page count the module cannot exceed. The currently available page count can be queried via current_memory and new pages can be allocated via grow_memory. Read more about memory in the the WebAssembly design.

Gas needs to be charged for the initial allocated pages as well as any increase of pages via grow_memory.

Initial memory allocation

The cost of pre-allocated memory should be counted before instantiating the module.

Increasing memory

Any calls to grow_memory needs to be prepended with a call for metering.


The following examples assume we have a cost table that defines all operations to have the cost of 1


    i64.const 1 ;; +1
    drop        ;; +1
    end         ;; +1

This code can be transformed to

  (type (func))
  (type (func (param i64)))

  (import "ethereum" "useGas" (func $meter (type 1)))
  (func (type 0)
    i64.const 5 ;; 3 +  2 the cost of metering  
    call $meter
    i64.const 1 


  (func $fac (param i64) (result i64)
    (if i64
      (i64.lt_s (get_local 0) (i64.const 1))
      (then (i64.const 1))
          (get_local 0)
          (call $fac
              (get_local 0)
              (i64.const 1)))))))
  (export "fac" (func $fac)))

This code can be transformed to

  (type $type0 (func (param i32) (result i32)))
  (type $type1 (func (param i32)))
  (import $meter "metering" "usegas"  (param i32))
  (export "fac" $func1)
  (func $func1 (param $var0 i32) (result i32)
    i32.const 211
    call $meter
    get_local $var0
    i32.const 1
    if i32
      i32.const 180
      call $import0
      i32.const 1
      i32.const 420
      call $meter
      get_local $var0
      get_local $var0
      i32.const 1
      call $func1

Future Work

More efficient metering algorithms can be defined. For example if we can prove that an end is impossible to jump to it doesn't need to be segmented. The tradeoff here is the complexity for implementing these algorithms.