Spot - Detailed Documentation

The Maker Protocol's liaison between the Oracles and Core Contracts

1. Introduction

The Spot liaison between the oracles and the core contracts. It functions as an interface contract and only stores the current ilk list.

2. Contract Details


  • All mathematical operations will revert on overflow or underflow


  • All methods execute in constant time


  • ilk a given collateral type

  • ilk.pip the contract which holds the current price of a given ilk

  • ilk.mat the liquidation ratio for a given ilk

  • vat the core of the mcd system

  • par value of DAI in the reference asset (e.g. $1 per DAI)


  • Only authorized users can update any variables in contract

3. Key Mechanisms & Concepts


poke is the only non-authenticated function in spot. The function takes in a bytes32 of the ilk to be "poked". poke calls two external functions:

  1. peek calls the OSM for the given ilk and takes back in the val and has(a boolean which is false if there was an error in the osm). The second external call only happens if has == true.

  2. When calculating the spot, the par is crucial to this calculation as it defines the relationship between DAI and 1 unit of value in the price. The val is then divided by the par(to get a ratio of val to DAI) and then the resulting value is divided by the ilk.mat. This gives us the current spot price for the given ilk.

  3. file is then called after calculating the spot. This updates the vat with the current liquidation price of the ilk which the function was called for.

4. Gotchas

The methods in the spotter are relatively basic compared to most other portions of dss. There is not much room for user error in the single unauthed method poke. If an incorrect bytes32 is supplied the call will fail.

Any module that is authed against the spot has full root access, and can, therefore, add and remove which ilks can be "poked". While not completely breaking the system, this could cause considerable risk.

5. Failure Modes

Coding Error

A bug in spot would most likely result in the prices for collaterals not being updated anymore. In this case, the system would need to authorize a new spot which would then be able to update the prices. Overall this is not a catastrophic failure as this would only pause all price fluctuation for some period.


The spot relies upon a set of trusted oracles to provide price data. Should these price feeds fail, it would become possible for unbacked Dai to be minted, or safe Vaults could be unfairly liquidated.

Spot Price Becoming Stale

When poke is not called frequently enough, the Vat's spot price will become stale. This could arise for a few reasons including tragedy of the commons or miner collusion and could lead to negative outcomes such as inappropriate liquidations, or the prevention of liquidations that should be possible.

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