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I am trying to implement a simple lottery as a pet project and to get into solidity coding.

I am running into an issue and I wonder what is the best way to solve it. Basically during a timeframe of a draw x participants take part. X could potentially be very big, lets say 10k. At the end of the draw winning numbers are being generated and I need to go through all participations and check whether they have won and how much. Both would be public methods accessible only to the owner.

Problem What can I do to not run into out of gas issues, especially hitting the maximum gas per block limit when the number of participants gets too large?

Now I see two ways to solve this:

method 1:

  • have a method that returns the amount of participants

  • have a central service that paginates through that amount by lets say 50 each and calls a "determine winners" method

  • have a method that then calls the payouts

  • do the same paginated method calling for the payouts

method 2:

  • have a determineWinners method that iterates through lets 50 of the total participants to check for winning numbers

  • when done and there are still unchecked participants left, store the last iteration variable (eg 50 or 100 aso) and create an event that lets a central service know, to call that method again until done

  • do the same for payouts

In general I don't like the heavy dependency on the centralised control authority of the contract. Also both methods would be very slow. Determining winners out of a pool of 10k in steps of 50 and a block time of 20 sec would already take more than an hour. 200k users would not work anymore if I run the lottery on a daily basis.

Is there some sort of best practice on how this can be done?

Do the methods presented make sense? Which one is preferable?

Are there other ways?

Thanks a lot for your help. Gordon

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The canonical way to do this would be to have a view method that ticket holders can call to check if they've won (possibly something like getWinningNumber() or checkTicket(uint ticketNumber)), and then have a method that winning ticket holders can call to claim their winnings (which of course reverts, or does nothing, for non-winning ticket holders).

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  • Yes, that sounds reasonable. The only problem with this is that in order to know how much the payout per category is (e.g. 3 numbers right, 4 right, 5 right etc.) I need to know the total amount of winners within one category in order to divide the payout per category with the amount of winners. If I implement a checkTicket method I can tell whether somebody has won, but I cant know how much he will receive.. – migo Mar 7 '18 at 17:29
  • If you need to count the number of winners in each category, you'll have a hard time doing it on-chain. One workaround would be to break claiming into two phases: one where winners announce their claim, which adds them to a set of winners, and allows you to count the number of winners in each category, and a second phase where they take their winnings. Although this means that winners who missed the deadline for the first phase will miss out, which will annoy them. – James_pic Apr 30 '18 at 13:38
  • In practice, you're probably better off using fixed payouts, and calculating how much you need to set aside to pay for the winnings if you're unlucky (figure out say the 99.9th percentile winnings). – James_pic Apr 30 '18 at 13:41

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