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If I want to create a smart contract by executing a raw tx, is it mandatory to compute the new contracts address the way it's been defined, or could I pick my own address arbitrarly? Why?

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Contracts can't be deployed to an arbitrary user specified address.

New contracts are created by the CREATE opcode in the EVM which implements the rules and doesn't have a parameter for the address of the new contract.

Probably the main reason for this behavior is to avoid conflicts between addresses. Someone should not be able to overwrite a contract that's already deployed at an address: quite a few user experience and security issues about this. (In reality, there's an extremely small probability, just like hash collisions, that two accounts would end up creating a contract at the same address.)

There's other reasons. For example, if people could deploy contracts to specific "unused" addresses, everyone may go for easy to read addresses, attackers could go for addresses that look similar to such addresses. And users allocating contracts to addresses may be able to unbalance the underlying data structures in Ethereum both accidentally or maliciously (similar to this "storage attack" which is mitigated).

  • Isn't the contract address generated from the actual hex code of the contract itself (among other things)? It's true you can't specify the address, but I don't think that's because of the reasons given. – Thomas Jay Rush Oct 27 '16 at 2:23
  • @ThomasJayRush A new contract's address doesn't depend on the code of the contract: it just depends on the "creator" account's address and nonce. – eth Oct 27 '16 at 4:25

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