The Hashes

Aditya Palepu
Oct 6 · 8 min read

Hashes is a new kind of NFT: a foundational construct that can serve as an origin point for users, while providing content creators an infinite source of entropy and versatile network of distribution. It’s a building block: fundamental and un-opinionated. Rather than receiving a single image, video, or file, users encode meaningful data and mint a Hash. This unique NFT can be used in an infinite number of ways, generating art, pseudo-randomness, and more.

Hashes are governed by the HashesDAO to facilitate the growth of the ecosystem.

Hashes contract address: 0xD07e72b00431af84AD438CA995Fd9a7F0207542d

Jump in and meet the Hashes community on the Discord server

Who we are

DEX Labs builds software for the future of the decentralized web. We’re builders, and we learn through creating. We’re software developers, product pioneers, quantitative traders, machine learning engineers, and designers, all focusing our efforts on the cutting-edge of blockchain technology.

Our primary efforts are towards the R&D of DerivaDEX — a first-of-its-kind decentralized exchange for derivatives forging a new frontier on both usability and security, with an all-star team of backers — Polychain Capital, Dragonfly Capital Partners, Electric Capital, Coinbase Ventures, CMS Holdings, Three Arrows Capital, Meltem Demirors (COO at Coinshares), Calvin Liu (strategy lead at Compound), and Phil Daian (cryptocurrency researcher).


Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have taken the world by storm. They are revolutionizing a wide array of digital spheres, from art to gaming to credentialing. NFTs have the power to transform and disrupt the future of commerce, culture, and communication — the building blocks of our lives. So what exactly are NFTs?

NFTs are a one of a kind, digital representation of data or information, where the holder has proof of ownership. NFTs are memorialized on the blockchain, which establishes their uniqueness and verifiable digital scarcity.

Fungibility refers to the “mutual interchangeability” of an item, whether or not it is truly unique. An example for those of you new to this: a dollar bill is fungible, because it doesn’t matter if you have one dollar bill or another dollar bill. However a one-of-its-kind, special edition Michael Jordan jersey is not — you may be able to trade it for something else of equal perceived value, however these two items would not be the same. In the digital world, a bitcoin is fungible since it really makes no difference if you and I swap 1 bitcoin. However this Fidenza piece from Tyler Hobbs is unique and cannot be exchanged for anything identical (though fractionalization of NFTs is happening, the NFT itself remains unique).

Generative art is one of the most popular and recognizable types of NFT applications to date. Content creators develop algorithms that deterministically mint unique works of art. Chromie Squiggle is one example of a generative art collection (the edition is already fully minted). If you mint a Chromie Squiggle, the system first generates a source of randomness, and then leverages that entropy to seed the generative algorithm, resulting in your very own, provably unique fancy squiggle. While this is very cool (and quite valuable!), your newly-minted NFT is also very opinionated. This means that it looks a certain way when you receive it — has a certain color scheme, size, texture, animation, etc. Chromie Squiggle falls on the “art edition” side of the spectrum, but generative NFTs can be very different.

Loot, for example, is an even more recent viral innovation that uses randomness to create NFTs that are a unique combination of fantasy-related phrases. This is much less opinionated than Chromie Squiggle (and most NFTs) in that there are no graphical representations, and no clearly-defined meaning attached nor guidance as to what to do with the collection of words. If Chromie Squiggle is a limited-edition collection of generative art, Loot is more like a Tarot card: open to interpretation and re-use in 3rd party systems. This flexibility spurred a plethora of derivative projects that quickly built around this core collection.

Yet another NFT project — the N-project — went even farther than Loot. Fantasy-related word collections are still very opinionated. The N-project generates sources of randomness, offering users unique combinations of numbers. From these, an even wider array of derivative projects are being built due to its versatility.

Hashes is even more flexible. As the name suggests, Hashes is built around blockchain’s most primitive concept, the hash. The beauty and power of Hashes is in its simplicity — given its foundational nature as a source of entropy, an NFT hash has the power to be the core building block for any NFT project, regardless of application. This is the only approach where the source of randomness itself is used as the unique, user-owned building block. A Hash can be used by any other NFT project that requires a random seed.

What are Hashes?

The Hashes contract is an Ethereum smart contract, governed by the HashesDAO, that implements the ERC721 non-fungible token standard and has an unbounded token supply. The first 100 Hashes are reserved, and the first 1000 have governance rights moving forward. Tokens 101-1000 cost 1 ETH to mint, and all ensuing tokens are free to mint, unless otherwise adjusted by governance.* Token minters call the generate function with a phrase of their choosing. This phrase, along with a monotonically increasing nonce (i.e., tokenId), and the minter’s Ethereum address, are Keccak-256 hashed to a 32-byte value. The Keccak-256 hash function is:

  • deterministic — the same input will always result in the exact same output
  • fixed-length output — regardless of the size of the input, the result will always be 32-bytes long
  • collision-resistant — no two different inputs will probabilistically ever result in the same output
  • pre-image resistant — you cannot practically reverse engineer the input given the output

This resultant hash is the NFT. Simple, yet powerful.

Why is this significant?

Hashes flips the script on how we think about NFTs. NFT owners traditionally can receive tokens in one of two ways: 1) purchase clearly-defined NFTs on the secondary market, or 2) mint new NFT tokens if they are early enough. In both scenarios, however, there is no input from the user. Hashes empowers minters with the artistic and creative freedom to encode data during the generation process, thereby materially impacting the hash/NFT they ultimately receive. The resultant NFT will now hold both intrinsic and extrinsic value as discussed below.

Intrinsic rarities

NFTs are largely valued based on how participants perceive intrinsic rarity. Does it inherently have rare features (e.g., this albino dino pal) with respect to the rest of its collection? Even given the fundamental nature of Hashes, there are still embedded rarities very similar to those in the current NFT paradigm. Some rarities include:

  • drift — a 32-byte hash can also be thought of a 256-bit binary string of 0’s and 1’s. Imagine if you initiated a random walk down a binary tree by traversing across this 256-bit string, going left with every 0 and right with every 1. The expected value would be that there are the same number of 0’s and 1’s, resulting in no drift off center. However, the larger the imbalance, the greater the drift.
  • streak — given the binary representation, the longest consecutive streak of 0’s; the longest consecutive streak of 1's.
  • leading/trailing bits — given the binary representation, the number of leading or trailing 0’s; number of leading or trailing 1's.
  • monopairs — the number of monopairs does the hash have given its standard hex representation (e.g. 00, 33, AA, CC, FF, etc.)
  • and more!

Extrinsic rarities

The real power of Hashes NFTs is composability. Integrations and interactions with other projects and ecosystems built around this core primitive determine its utility. One of the most significant driving forces and advantages of decentralized finance (DeFi) over its centralized counterpart (CeFi) is this idea of composability, where projects aren’t siloed, but rather collectively grow via meaningful interactions. The NFT market stands to gain from a similar phenomenon as its DeFi sibling, and Hashes breaks new ground in achieving this.

NFT creators can integrate into the Hashes ecosystem and leverage the unique Hash for a wide array of applications such as:

  • generative art — as opposed to every generative art piece creating its own entropy (hash) from which art work can be rendered, the Hashes user can provide all integrated artists with their hash instead. In effect, their hash is a universal form of entropy from which a limitless, unique portfolio of high-value, generative art can be derived.
  • games — much like the generative art described above, a Hashes NFT could be the source of entropy for constructing unique characters and or stories in any blockchain-based game.
  • utility — any number of real-world applications (passports, messaging services, credentialing services, etc.) can be built around this notion of a Hashes origin, with multiple Hashes tokens potentially combining to form aliased identities.

Phrase input (continued)

The phrase is relevant, meaningful, and can be of any length (as short as the word “hi”, or as long as the “Declaration of Independence”). It’s not stored on-chain, but is emitted in the event log. Furthermore, it’s effectively encoded into the NFT/hash as an input to the hash function, and can be verified at any later point in time since a Hashes token deterministically hashes the token ID, minter address, and phrase.

While the resultant hash will necessarily be unique, the phrases themselves need not be. This is by design and creates several new dimensions of rarity, such as the number of follow-on, copy-cat phrases used (a measure of virality).

Supply & integrations (continued)

A hallmark of NFTs is the low supply at launch. 6666, 8888, 10000 — these are all commonly-seen numbers in the market. Hashes presents a stark paradigm shift in that it’s unbounded. A limitless supply allows Hashes to provide access to an infinitely wide array of integrations.

Although the Hashes are unbounded, that doesn’t stop an integrator (an artist, for example) from defining a distribution/drop cross-section as they wish (e.g. the first 1000 or 10000 token IDs, or hashes with certain substrings, or even-numbered hashes, etc.).


Only the first 1000 Hashes minted will have governance power moving forward. The governance logic is embedded in the token itself, so if you transfer a voting token to another user, it will transfer the voting rights accordingly as well.

The HashesDAO can perform an arbitrary set of on-chain governance actions, such as transferring funds in its possession to a set of addresses for commissioned artwork pieces, or other similar integrations.


Hashes provides infinite access for minters/holders, and a composable distribution channel that can be defined by the content creator themselves. In this way, Hashes aims to usher in a new, sustainable wave of NFT adoption and utility.

DEX Labs

DEX Labs is committed to building unique, useful, and performant tools for the decentralized web. The products we build reflect core ethos of decentralization: composability, community, and autonomy. We firmly believe in application and protocol synergies, and look forward to blending all that we do to push the industry forward.

*Edit added to clarify that first 100 tokens are reserved at deployment.

Let’s keep in touch.

-> Follow DEX Labs on Twitter

-> Follow HashesDAO on Twitter

DEX Labs

DEX Labs builds the future of trading and finance for the decentralized web.

DEX Labs

DEX Labs is committed to building unique, useful, and performant tools for the decentralized web. The products we build reflect core ethos of decentralization: composability, community, and autonomy.

Aditya Palepu

Written by

Co-Founder & CEO @ DerivaDEX. Duke Eng '13 (ECE/CS). Blockchain, ML/AI enthusiast. Previously DRW algorithmic trader. D.C. sports fanatic and burrito lover.

DEX Labs

DEX Labs is committed to building unique, useful, and performant tools for the decentralized web. The products we build reflect core ethos of decentralization: composability, community, and autonomy.