u/Maximus_no submitted by
and me spent some time at work collecting and analyzing learning material for blockchain development. The list contains resources for developers, as well as business analysts/consultants looking to learn more about blockchain use-cases and solutions.
Certifications and Courses
Link to course: IIB council : Certified Blockchain Professional
C|BP is an In-Depth, Industry Agnostic, Hands-On Training and Certification Course specifically tailored for Industry Professionals and Developers interested in implementing emerging technologies in the Data-Driven Markets and Digitized Economies.
The IIB Council Certified Blockchain Professional (C|BP) Course
was developed to help respective aspiring professionals gain excessive knowledge in Blockchain technology and its implication on businesses.
WHO IS IT FOR:
C|BP is developed in line with the latest industry trends to help current and aspiring Professionals evolve in their career by implementing the latest knowledge in blockchain technology. This course will help professionals understand the foundation of Blockchain technology and the opportunities this emerging technology is offering.
If you are a Developer and you are willing to learn blockchain technology this course is for you. You will learn to build and model Blockchain solutions and Blockchain-based applications for enterprises and businesses in multiple Blockchain Technologies.
This exam is designed for non-technical business professionals who require basic knowledge about Blockchain and how it will be executed within an organization. This exam is NOT appropriate for technology professionals seeking to gain deeper understanding of Blockchain technology implementation or programming.
A person who holds this certification demonstrates their knowledge of:
· What is Blockchain? (What exactly is it?)
· Non-Technical Technology Overview (How does it work?)
· Benefits of Blockchain (Why should anyone consider this?)
· Use Cases (Where and for what apps is it appropriate?)
· Adoption (Who is using it and for what?)
· Future of Blockchain (What is the future?)
A person who holds this certification demonstrates their ability to:
· Architect blockchain solutions
· Work effectively with blockchain engineers and technical leaders
· Choose appropriate blockchain systems for various use cases
· Work effectively with both public and permissioned blockchain systems
This exam will prove that a student completely understands:
· The difference between proof of work, proof of stake, and other proof systems and why they exist
· Why cryptocurrency is needed on certain types of blockchains
· The difference between public, private, and permissioned blockchains
· How blocks are written to the blockchain
· Where cryptography fits into blockchain and the most commonly used systems
· Common use cases for public blockchains
· Common use cases for private & permissioned blockchains
· What is needed to launch your own blockchain
· Common problems & considerations in working with public blockchains
· Awareness of the tech behind common blockchains
· When is mining needed and when it is not
· Byzantine Fault Tolerance
· Consensus among blockchains
· What is hashing
· How addresses, public keys, and private keys work
· What is a smart contract
· Security in blockchain
· Brief history of blockchain
· The programming languages of the most common blockchains
· Common testing and deployment practices for blockchains and blockchain-based apps
A person who holds this certification demonstrates their ability to:
· Plan and prepare production ready applications for the Ethereum blockchain
· Write, test, and deploy secure Solidity smart contracts
· Understand and work with Ethereum fees
· Work within the bounds and limitations of the Ethereum blockchain
· Use the essential tooling and systems needed to work with the Ethereum ecosystem
This exam will prove that a student completely understands how to:
· Implement web3.js
· Write and compile Solidity smart contracts
· Create secure smart contracts
· Deploy smart contracts both the live and test Ethereum networks
· Calculate Ethereum gas costs
· Unit test smart contracts
· Run an Ethereum node on development machines
Basic course with focus on Bitcoin. After this course, you’ll know everything you need to be able to separate fact from fiction when reading claims about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. You’ll have the conceptual foundations you need to engineer secure software that interacts with the Bitcoin network. And you’ll be able to integrate ideas from Bitcoin in your own projects.
· A mid / basic understanding of blockchain technology and its long-term implications for business, coupled with knowledge of its relationship to other emerging technologies such as AI and IoT
· An economic framework for identifying blockchain-based solutions
to challenges within your own context, guided by the knowledge of cryptoeconomics expert Christian Catalini
· Recognition of your newfound blockchain knowledge in the form of a certificate of completion
from the MIT Sloan School of Management — one of the world’s leading business schools Orientation Module:
Welcome to Your Online Campus Module 1:
An introduction to blockchain technology Module 2:
Bitcoin and the curse of the double-spending problem Module 3:
Costless verification: Blockchain technology and the last mile problem Module 4:
Bootstrapping network effects through blockchain technology and cryptoeconomics Module 5:
Using tokens to design new types of digital platforms Module 6:
The future of blockchain technology, AI, and digital privacy
· A mid / basic understanding of what blockchain is and how it works, as well as insights into how it will affect the future of industry and of your organization.
· The ability to make better strategic business decisions by utilizing the Oxford Blockchain Strategic framework, the Oxford Blockchain Regulation framework, the Oxford Blockchain Ecosystem map, and drawing on your knowledge of blockchain and affiliated industries and technologies.
· A certificate of attendance from Oxford Saïd as validation of your newfound blockchain knowledge and skills, as well as access to a global network of like-minded business leaders and innovators. Module 1:
Understanding blockchain Module 2:
The blockchain ecosystem Module 3:
Innovations in value transfer Module 4:
Decentralized apps and smart contracts Module 5:
Transforming enterprise business models Module 6:
Resources and Articles Introduction to Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT) https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/cloud/library/cl-blockchain-basics-intro-bluemix-trs/ Tomas’s Personal Favourite: 150+ Resources for going from web-dev to blockchain engineer https://github.com/benstew/blockchain-for-software-engineers Hyperledger Frameworks
Hyperledger is widely regarded as the most mature open-source framework for building private & permissioned blockchains.
Tutorials: https://www.hyperledger.org/resources/training R3 Corda
Open-source developer frameworks for building private, permissioned blockchains. A little better than Hyperledger on features like privacy and secure channels. Used mostly in financial applications. Ethereum, Solidity, dApps and Smart-Contracts
Ethereum & Solidity Course (favourite): https://www.udemy.com/ethereum-and-solidity-the-complete-developers-guide/
An Introduction to Ethereum’s Token Standards: https://medium.com/coinmonks/anatomy-of-an-erc-an-exhaustive-survey-8bc1a323b541
How To Create Your First ERC20 Token: https://medium.com/bitfwd/how-to-do-an-ico-on-ethereum-in-less-than-20-minutes-a0062219374
Ethereum Developer Tools [Comprehensive List]: https://github.com/ConsenSys/ethereum-developer-tools-list/blob/masteREADME.md
CryptoZombies – Learn to code dApps through game-development: https://cryptozombies.io/
Intro to Ethereum Development: https://hackernoon.com/ethereum-development-walkthrough-part-1-smart-contracts-b3979e6e573e
Notes from Consensys Academy Participant (free): https://github.com/ScottWorks/ConsenSys-Academy-Notes
AWS Ethereum Templates: https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/get-started-with-blockchain-using-the-new-aws-blockchain-templates/
Create dApps with better user-experience: https://blog.hellobloom.io/how-to-make-a-user-friendly-ethereum-dapp-5a7e5ea6df22
Solidity YouTube Course: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaWes1eWQ9TbzA695gl_PtA
[UX &UI] Designing a decentralized profile dApp: https://uxdesign.cc/designing-a-decentralized-profile-dapp-ab12ead4ab56
Scaling Solutions on Ethereum: https://media.consensys.net/the-state-of-scaling-ethereum-b4d095dbafae Different Platforms for dApps and Smart-Contracts
While Ethereum is the most mature dApp framework with both the best developer tools, resources and community, there are other public blockchain platforms. Third generation blockchains are trying to solve Ethereum’s scaling and performance issues. Here is an overview of dApp platforms that can be worth looking into: NEO
The second most mature dApp platform. NEO has better scalability and performance than Ethereum and has 1’000 TPS to ETH’s 15 by utilizing a dBFT consensus algorithm. While better infrastructure, NEO does not have the maturity of Ethereum’s developer tools, documentation and community.
A writeup on why a company chose to develop on NEO and not Ethereum: https://medium.com/orbismesh/why-we-chose-neo-over-ethereum-37fc9208ffa0 Cardano
While still in alpha with a long and ambitious roadmap ahead of it, Cardano is one of the most anticipated dApp platforms out there. IOHK, the research and engineering company that maintains Cardano, has listed a lot of great resources and scientific papers that is worth looking into.
An Intro to Cardano: https://hackernoon.com/cardano-ethereum-and-neo-killer-or-overhyped-and-overpriced-8fcd5f8abcdf
IOHK Scientific Papers - https://iohk.io/research/papers/ Stellar
If moving value fast from one party to another by using smart-contracts is the goal, Stellar Lumens is your platform. Initially as an open-source fork from Ripple, Stellar has become one of the mature frameworks for financial applications. Stellar’s focus lies in interoperability with legacy financial systems and cheap/fast value transfer. It’s smart-contract capability is rather limited in comparison to Ethereum and HyperLedger, so take that in consideration. Ripple
Ripple and its close cousin, Stellar, is two of the most well-known cryptocurrencies and DLT frameworks meant for the financial sector. Ripple enables instant settlement between banks for international transactions.
Consensus Algorithms [Proof of Work]
- very short, cuz it's well-known.
 Bitcoin - to generate a new block miner must generate hash of the new block header that is in line with given requirements.
Others: Ethereum, Litecoin etc. [Hybrid of PoW and PoS]
 Decred - hybrid of “proof of work” and “proof of stake”. Blocks are created about every 5 minutes. Nodes in the network looking for a solution with a known difficulty to create a block (PoW). Once the solution is found it is broadcast to the network. The network then verifies the solution. Stakeholders who have locked some DCR in return for a ticket* now have the chance to vote on the block (PoS). 5 tickets are chosen pseudo-randomly from the ticket pool and if at least 3 of 5 vote ‘yes’ the block is permanently added to the blockchain. Both miners and voters are compensated with DCR : PoS - 30% and PoW - 60% of about 30 new Decred issued with a block. * 1 ticket = ability to cast 1 vote. Stakeholders must wait an average of 28 days (8,192 blocks) to vote their tickets. [Proof of Stake]
 Nxt - The more tokens are held by account, the greater chance that account will earn the right to generate a block. The total reward received as a result of block generation is the sum of the transaction fees located within the block. Three values are key to determining which account is eligible to generate a block, which account earns the right to generate a block, and which block is taken to be the authoritative one in times of conflict: base target value, target value and cumulative difficulty. Each block on the chain has a generation signature parameter. To participate in the block's forging process, an active account digitally signs the generation signature of the previous block with its own public key. This creates a 64-byte signature, which is then hashed using SHA256. The first 8 bytes of the resulting hash are converted to a number, referred to as the account hit. The hit is compared to the current target value(active balance). If the computed hit is lower than the target, then the next block can be generated.  Peercoin (chain-based proof of stake)
- coin age parameter. Hybrid PoW and PoS algorithm. The longer your Peercoins have been stationary in your account (to a maximum of 90 days), the more power (coin age) they have to mint a block. The act of minting a block requires the consumption of coin age value, and the network determines consensus by selecting the chain with the largest total consumed coin age. Reward - minting + 1% yearly.  Reddcoin (Proof of stake Velocity)
- quite similar to Peercoin, difference: not linear coin-aging function (new coins gain weight quickly, and old coins gain weight increasingly slowly) to encourage Nodes Activity. Node with most coin age weight have a bigger chance to create block. To create block Node should calculate right hash. Block reward - interest on the weighted age of coins/ 5% annual interest in PoSV phase.  Ethereum (Casper) - uses modified BFT consensus
. Blocks will be created using PoW. In the Casper Phase 1 implementation for Ethereum, the “proposal mechanism" is the existing proof of work chain, modified to have a greatly reduced block reward. Blocks will be validated by set of Validators. Block is finalised when 2/3 of validators voted for it (not the number of validators is counted, but their deposit size). Block creator rewarded with Block Reward + Transaction FEES.  Lisk (Delegated Proof-of-stake)
- Lisk stakeholders vote with vote transaction (the weight of the vote depends on the amount of Lisk the stakeholder possess) and choose 101 Delegates, who create all blocks in the blockchain. One delegate creates 1 block within 1 round (1 round contains 101 blocks) -> At the beginning of each round, each delegate is assigned a slot indicating their position in the block generation process -> Delegate includes up to 25 transactions into the block, signs it and broadcasts it to the network -> As >51% of available peers agreed that this block is acceptable to be created (Broadhash consensus), a new block is added to the blockchain. *Any account may become a delegate, but only accounts with the required stake (no info how much) are allowed to generate blocks. Block reward - minted Lisks and transaction fees (fees for all 101 blocks are collected firstly and then are divided between delegates). Blocks appears every 10 sec.  Cardano (Ouroboros Proof of Stake)
- Blocks(slots) are created by Slot Leaders. Slot Leaders for N Epoch are chosen during n-1 Epoch. Slot Leaders are elected from the group of ADA stakeholders who have enough stake. Election process consist of 3 phases: Commitment phase: each elector generates a random value (secret), signs it and commit as message to network (other electors) saved in to block. -> Reveal phase: Each elector sends special value to open a commitment, all this values (opening) are put into the block. -> Recovery phase: each elector verifies that commitments and openings match and extracts the secrets and forms a SEED (randomly generated bytes string based on secrets). All electors get the same SEED. -> Follow the Satoshi algorithm : Elector who have coin which corresponded to SEED become a SLOT LEADER and get a right to create a block. Slot Leader is rewarded with minted ADA and transactions Fee.  Tezos (Proof Of Stake)
- generic and self-amending crypto-ledger. At the beginning of each cycle (2048 blocks), a random seed is derived from numbers that block miners chose and committed to in the penultimate cycle, and revealed in the last. -> Using this random seed, a follow the coin strategy (similar to Follow The Satoshi) is used to allocate mining rights and signing rights to stakeholders for the next cycle*. -> Blocks are mined by a random stakeholder (the miner) and includes multiple signatures of the previous block provided by random stakeholders (the signers). Mining and signing both offer a small reward but also require making a one cycle safety deposit to be forfeited in the event of a double mining or double signing.
· the more coins (rolls) you have - the more your chance to be a minesigner.  Tendermint (Byzantine Fault Tolerance
) - A proposal is signed and published by the designated proposer at each round. The proposer is chosen by a deterministic and non-choking round robin selection algorithm that selects proposers in proportion to their voting power. The proposer create the block, that should be validated by >2/3 of Validators, as follow: Propose -> Prevote -> Precommit -> Commit. Proposer rewarded with Transaction FEES.  Tron (Byzantine Fault Tolerance
) - This blockhain is still on development stage. Consensus algorithm = PoS + BFT (similar to Tendermint): PoS algorithm chooses a node as Proposer, this node has the power to generate a block. -> Proposer broadcasts a block that it want to release. -> Block enters the Prevote stage. It takes >2/3 of nodes' confirmations to enter the next stage. -> As the block is prevoted, it enters Precommit stage and needs >2/3 of node's confirmation to go further. -> As >2/3 of nodes have precommited the block it's commited to the blockchain with height +1. New blocks appears every 15 sec.  NEO (Delegated Byzantine Fault Tolerance)
- Consensus nodes* are elected by NEO holders -> The Speaker is identified (based on algorithm) -> He broadcasts proposal to create block -> Each Delegate (other consensus nodes) validates proposal -> Each Delegate sends response to other Delegates -> Delegate reaches consensus after receiving 2/3 positive responses -> Each Delegate signs the block and publishes it-> Each Delegate receives a full block. Block reward 6 GAS distributed proportionally in accordance with the NEO holding ratio among NEO holders. Speaker rewarded with transaction fees (mostly 0). * Stake 1000 GAS to nominate yourself for Bookkeeping(Consensus Node)  EOS (Delegated Proof of Stake)
- those who hold tokens on a blockchain adopting the EOS.IO software may select* block producers through a continuous approval voting system and anyone may choose to participate in block production and will be given an opportunity to produce blocks proportional to the total votes they have received relative to all other producers. At the start of each round 21 unique block producers are chosen. The top 20 by total approval are automatically chosen every round and the last producer is chosen proportional to their number of votes relative to other producers. Block should be confirmed by 2/3 or more of elected Block producers. Block Producer rewarded with Block rewards. *the more EOS tokens a stakeholder owns, the greater their voting power [The XRP Ledger Consensus Process]  Ripple - Each node receives transaction from external applications
-> Each Node forms public list of all valid (not included into last ledger (=block)) transactions aka (Candidate Set) -> Nodes merge its candidate set with UNLs(Unique Node List) candidate sets and vote on the veracity of all transactions (1st round of consensus) -> all transactions that received at least 50% votes are passed on the next round (many rounds may take place) -> final round of consensus requires that min 80% of Nodes UNL agreeing on transactions. It means that at least 80% of Validating nodes should have same Candidate SET of transactions -> after that each Validating node computes a new ledger (=block) with all transactions (with 80% UNL agreement) and calculate ledger hash, signs and broadcasts -> All Validating nodes compare their ledgers hash -> Nodes of the network recognize a ledger instance as validated when a 80% of the peers have signed and broadcast the same validation hash. -> Process repeats. Ledger creation process lasts 5 sec(?). Each transaction includes transaction fee (min 0,00001 XRP) which is destroyed. No block rewards. [The Stellar consensus protocol]  Stellar (Federated Byzantine Agreement)
- quite similar to Ripple. Key difference - quorum slice. [Proof of Burn]
 Slimcoin - to get the right to write blocks Node should “burn” amount of coins. The more coins Node “burns” more chances it has to create blocks (for long period) -> Nodes address gets a score called Effective Burnt Coins that determines chance to find blocks. Block creator rewarded with block rewards. [Proof of Importance]
 NEM - Only accounts that have min 10k vested coins are eligible to harvest (create a block). Accounts with higher importance scores have higher probabilities of harvesting a block. The higher amount of vested coins, the higher the account’s Importance score. And the higher amount of transactions that satisfy following conditions: - transactions sum min 1k coins, - transactions made within last 30 days, - recipient have 10k vested coins too, - the higher account’s Important score. Harvester is rewarded with fees for the transactions in the block. A new block is created approx. every 65 sec. [Proof of Devotion]
 Nebulas (Proof of Devotion + BFT) - quite similar to POI, the PoD selects the accounts with high influence. All accounts are ranked according to their liquidity and propagation (Nebulas Rank) -> Top-ranked accounts are selected -> Chosen accounts pay deposit and are qualified as the blocks Validators* -> Algorithm pseudo-randomly chooses block Proposer -> After a new block is proposed, Validators Set (each Validator is charged a deposit) participate in a round of BFT-Style voting to verify block (1. Prepare stage -> 2. Commit Stage. Validators should have > 2/3 of total deposits to validate Block) -> Block is added. Block rewards : each Validator rewarded with 1 NAS. *Validators Set is dynamic, changes in Set may occur after Epoch change. [IOTA Algorithm]
 IOTA - uses DAG (Directed Acyclic Graph) instead of blockchain (TANGLE equal to Ledger). Graph consist of transactions (not blocks). To issue a new transaction Node must approve 2 random other Transactions (not confirmed). Each transaction should be validate n(?) times. By validating PAST(2) transactions whole Network achieves Consensus. in Order to issue transaction Node: 1. Sign transaction with private key 2. choose two other Transactions to validate based on MCMC(Markov chain Monte Carlo) algorithm, check if 2 transactions are valid (node will never approve conflicting transactions) 3. make some PoW(similar to HashCash). -> New Transaction broadcasted to Network. Node don’t receive reward or fee. [PBFT + PoW]
 Yobicash - uses PBFT and also PoW. Nodes reach consensus on transactions by querying other nodes. A node asks its peers about the state of a transaction: if it is known or not, and if it is a doublespending transaction or not. As follow : Node receives new transaction -> Checks if valid -> queries all known nodes for missing transactions (check if already in DAG ) -> queries 2/3 nodes for doublepsending and possibility -> if everything is ok add to DAG. Reward - nodes receive transaction fees + minting coins. [Proof of Space/Proof of Capacity]
 Filecoin (Power Fault Tolerance) - the probability that the network elects a miner(Leader) to create a new block (it is referred to as the voting power of the miner) is proportional to storage currently in use in relation to the rest of the network. Each node has Power - storage in use verified with Proof of Spacetime by nodes. Leaders extend the chain by creating a block and propagating it to the network. There can be an empty block (when no leader). A block is committed if the majority of the participants add their weight on the chain where the block belongs to, by extending the chain or by signing blocks. Block creator rewarded with Block reward + transaction fees. [Proof of Elapsed Time (POET)]
 Hyperledger Sawtooth - Goal - to solve BFT Validating Nodes limitation. Works only with intel’s SGX. PoET uses a random leader election model or a lottery based election model based on SGX, where the protocol randomly selects the next leader to finalize the block. Every validator requests a wait time from an enclave (a trusted function). -> The validator with the shortest wait time for a particular transaction block is elected the leader. -> The BlockPublisher is responsible for creating candidate blocks to extend the current chain. He takes direction from the consensus algorithm for when to create a block and when to publish a block. He creates, Finalizes, Signs Block and broadcast it -> Block Validators check block -> Block is created on top of blockchain.  Byteball (Delegated Byzantine Fault Tolerance)
- only verified nodes are allowed to be Validation nodes (list of requirements https://github.com/byteball/byteball-witness
). Users choose in transaction set of 12 Validating nodes. Validating nodes(Witnesses) receive transaction fees.  Nano - uses DAG, PoW (HashCash).
Nano uses a block-lattice structure. Each account has its own blockchain (account-chain) equivalent to the account’s transaction/balance history. To add transaction user should make some HashCash PoW -> When user creates transaction Send Block appears on his blockchain and Receive block appears on Recipients blockchain. -> Peers in View receive Block -> Peers verify block (Double spending and check if already in the ledger) -> Peers achieve consensus and add block. In case of Fork (when 2 or more signed blocks reference the same previous block): Nano network resolves forks via a balance-weighted voting system where representative nodes vote for the block they observe, as >50% of weighted votes received, consensus achieved and block is retained in the Node’s ledger (block that lose the vote is discarded).  Holochain - uses distributed hash table (DHT).
Instead of trying to manage global consensus for every change to a huge blockchain ledger, every participant has their own signed hash chain. In case of multi-party transaction, it is signed to each party's chain. Each party signs the exact same transaction with links to each of their previous chain entries. After data is signed to local chains, it is shared to a DHT where every neighbor node validate it. Any consensus algorithms can be built on top of Holochain.  Komodo ('Delegated' Delayed Proof of Work (dPoW
)) - end-to-end blockchain solutions. DPoW consensus mechanism does not recognize The Longest Chain Rule to resolve a conflict in the network, instead the dPoW looks to backups it inserted previously into the chosen PoW blockchain. The process of inserting backups of Komodo transactions into a secure PoW is “notarization.” Notarisation is performed by the elected Notary nodes. Roughly every ten minutes, the Notary nodes perform a special block hash mined on the Komodo blockchain and take note of the overall Komodo blockchain “height”. The notary nodes process this specifc block so that their signatures are cryptographically included within the content of the notarized data. There are sixty-four “Notary nodes” elected by a stake-weighted vote, where ownership of KMD represents stake in the election. They are a special type of blockchain miner, having certain features in their underlying code that enable them to maintain an effective and cost-efcient blockchain and they periodically receives the privilege to mine a block on “easy difculty.”
Source: https://www.reddit.com/CryptoTechnology/comments/7znnq8/my_brief_observation_of_most_common_consensus/ Whitepapers Worth Looking Into:
Ethereum Plasma (Omise-GO) -https://plasma.io/plasma.pdf
Cardano - https://eprint.iacr.org/2016/889.pdf
Why do both sides of the debate seem “right” to me? submitted by
I know, I know, a healthy debate is healthy and all - and maybe I'm just not used to the tumult and jostling which would be inevitable in a real live open major debate about something as vital as Bitcoin.
And I really do agree with the starry-eyed idealists who say Bitcoin is vital
. Imperfect as it may be, it certainly does seem to represent the first real chance we've had in the past few hundred years to try to steer our civilization and our planet away from the dead-ends and disasters which our government-issued debt-based currencies keep dragging us into.
But this particular debate, about the blocksize, doesn't seem to be getting resolved at all.
Pretty much every time I read one of the long-form major arguments contributed by Bitcoin "thinkers" who I've come to respect over the past few years, this weird thing happens: I usually end up finding myself nodding my head and agreeing
with whatever particular piece I'm reading!
But that should be impossible - because a lot of these people vehemently disagree!
So how can both sides sound so convincing to me, simply depending on whichever piece I currently
happen to be reading?
Does anyone else feel this way? Or am I just a gullible idiot? Just Do It?
When you first look at it or hear about it, increasing the size seems almost like a no-brainer: The "big-block" supporters say just increase the blocksize to 20 MB or 8 MB, or do some kind of scheduled or calculated regular increment which tries to take into account the capabilities of the infrastructure and the needs of the users. We do have the bandwidth and the memory to at least increase the blocksize now, they say - and we're probably gonna continue to have more bandwidth and memory in order to be able to keep increasing the blocksize for another couple decades - pretty much like everything else computer-based we've seen over the years (some of this stuff is called by names such as "Moore's Law").
On the other hand, whenever the "small-block" supporters warn about the utter catastrophe that a failed hard-fork would mean, I get totally freaked by their possible doomsday scenarios, which seem totally plausible and terrifying - so I end up feeling that the only way I'd want to go with a hard-fork would be if there was some pre-agreed "triggering" mechanism where the fork itself would only actually "switch on" and take effect provided that some "supermajority" of the network (of who? the miners? the full nodes?) had signaled (presumably via some kind of totally reliable p2p trustless software-based voting system?) that they do indeed "pre-agree" to actually adopt the pre-scheduled fork (and thereby avoid any
possibility whatsoever of the precious blockchain somehow tragically splitting into two and pretty much killing this cryptocurrency off in its infancy).
So in this "conservative" scenario, I'm talking about wanting at least 95% pre-adoption agreement - not the mere 75% which I recall some proposals call for, which seems like it could easily lead to a 75/25 blockchain split.
But this time, with this long drawn-out blocksize debate, the core devs, and several other important voices who have become prominent opinion shapers over the past few years, can't seem to come to any real agreement on this. Weird split among the devs
As far as I can see, there's this weird split: Gavin and Mike seem to be the only people among the devs who really want a major blocksize increase - and all the other devs seem to be vehemently against them.
But then on the other hand, the users
seem to be overwhelmingly in favor of a major increase.
And there are meta-questions about governance, about about why this didn't come out as a BIP, and what the availability of Bitcoin XT means.
And today or yesterday there was this really cool big-blockian exponential graph based on doubling the blocksize every two years for twenty years, reminding us of the pure mathematical
fact that 210
is indeed about 1000 - but not really addressing any of the game-theoretic
points raised by the small-blockians. So a lot of the users seem to like it, but when so few devs say anything positive about it, I worry: is this just yet more exponential chart porn?
On the one hand, Gavin's and Mike's blocksize increase proposal initially seemed like a no-brainer to me.
And on the other hand, all the other devs seem to be against them. Which is weird - not what I'd initially expected at all (but maybe I'm just a fool who's seduced by exponential chart porn?).
Look, I don't mean to be rude to any of the core devs, and I don't want to come off like someone wearing a tinfoil hat - but it has to cross people's minds that the powers that be (the Fed and the other central banks and the governments that use their debt-issued money to run this world into a ditch) could very well be much more scared shitless than they're letting on. If we assume that the powers that be are using their usual playbook and tactics, then it could be worth looking at the book "Confessions of an Economic Hitman" by John Perkins, to get an idea of how they might try to attack Bitcoin. So, what I'm saying is, they do have a track record of sending in "experts" to try to derail projects and keep everyone enslaved to the Creature from Jekyll Island. I'm just saying. So, without getting ad hominem - let's just make sure that our ideas can really stand scrutiny on their own - as Nick Szabo says, we need to make sure there is "more computer science, less noise" in this debate.
When Gavin Andresen first came out with the 20 MB thing - I sat back and tried to imagine if I could download 20 MB in 10 minutes (which seems to be one of the basic mathematical and technological constraints here - right?)
I figured, "Yeah, I could download that" - even with my crappy internet connection.
And I guess the telecoms might
be nice enough to continue to double our bandwidth every two years for the next couple decades – if we ask them politely?
On the other hand - I think we should be careful about entrusting the financial freedom of the world into the greedy hands of the telecoms companies - given all their shady shenanigans over the past few years in many countries. After decades of the MPAA and the FBI trying to chip away at BitTorrent, lately PirateBay has been hard to access. I would say it's quite likely that certain persons at institutions like JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs and the Fed might be very, very motivated to see Bitcoin fail - so we shouldn't be too sure about scaling plans which depend on the willingness of companies Verizon and AT&T to double our bandwith every two years. Maybe the real important hardware buildout challenge for a company like 21 (and its allies such as Qualcomm) to take on now would not be "a miner in every toaster" but rather "Google Fiber Download and Upload Speeds in every Country, including China".
I think I've read all the major stuff on the blocksize debate from Gavin Andresen, Mike Hearn, Greg Maxwell, Peter Todd, Adam Back, and Jeff Garzick and several other major contributors - and, oddly enough, all
their arguments seem reasonable - heck even Luke-Jr seems reasonable to me on the blocksize debate, and I always thought he was a whackjob overly influenced by superstition and numerology - and now today I'm reading the article by Bram Cohen - the inventor of BitTorrent - and I find myself agreeing with him too!
I say to myself: What's going on with me? How can I possibly agree with all
of these guys, if they all have such vehemently opposing viewpoints?
I mean, think back to the glory days of a couple of years ago, when all we were hearing was how this amazing unprecedented grassroots innovation called Bitcoin was going to benefit everyone from all walks of life, all around the world:
- wealthy individuals trying to preserve and transport their wealth across space and across time
- iPhone and Android users who want to buy a latte on their smartphone at Starbucks
- Venezuelans and Argentinians and Cypriots and Russian oligarchs and Greeks and anyone else whose state-backed currency sucks
- unbanked Africans who will someday be texting around money via SMS messages on their cellphones
- online content providers who will finally be able to get paid via micropayments
- smart contracts and stock brokering and lawyering and land deeding and the refrigerator calling out to order more milk and distributed anonymous corporations (DACs) automatically negotiating and adjusting driverless taxicab fares in the Uber-future of the Internet of Things
...basically the entire human race transacting everything into the blockchain.
(Although let me say that I think that people's focus on ideas like driverless cabs creating realtime fare markets based on supply and demand seems to be setting our sights a bit low as far as Bitcoin's abilities to correct the financial world's capital-misallocation problems which seem to have been made possible by infinite debt-based fiat. I would have hoped that a Bitcoin-based economy would solve much more noble, much more urgent capital-allocation problems than driverless taxicabs creating fare markets or refrigerators ordering milk on the internet of things. I was thinking more along the lines that Bitcoin would finally strangle dead-end debt-based deadly-toxic energy industries like fossil fuels and let profitable clean energy industries like Thorium LFTRs take over - but that's another topic. :=) Paradoxes in the blocksize debate
Let me summarize the major paradoxes I see here:
(1) Regarding the people (the majority of the core devs) who are against
a blocksize increase: Well, the small-blocks arguments do seem kinda weird, and certainly not very "populist", in the sense that: When on earth have end-users ever heard of a computer technology whose capacity didn't grow pretty much exponentially year-on-year? All the cool new technology we've had - from hard drives to RAM to bandwidth - started out pathetically tiny and grew to unimaginably huge over the past few decades - and all our software has in turn gotten massively powerful and big and complex (sometimes bloated) to take advantage of the enormous new capacity available.
But now suddenly, for the first time in the history of technology, we seem to have a majority of the devs, on a major p2p
project - saying: "Let's not scale the system up. It could be dangerous. It might break the whole system (if the hard-fork fails)."
I don't know, maybe I'm missing something here, maybe someone else could enlighten me, but I don't think I've ever seen this sort of thing happen in the last few decades of the history of technology - devs arguing against
scaling up p2p technology to take advantage of expected growth in infrastructure capacity.
(2) But... on the other hand... the dire warnings of the small-blockians about what could happen if a hard-fork were to fail
- wow, they do seem really dire! And these guys are pretty much all heavyweight, experienced programmers and/or game theorists and/or p2p open-source project managers.
I must say, that nearly all of the long-form arguments I've read - as well as many, many of the shorter comments I've read from many users in the threads, whose names I at least have come to more-or-less recognize over the past few months and years on reddit and bitcointalk - have been amazingly impressive in their ability to analyze all aspects of the lifecycle and management of open-source software projects, bringing up lots of serious points which I could never have come up with, and which seem to come from long experience with programming and project management - as well as dealing with economics and human nature (eg, greed - the game-theory stuff).
So a lot of really smart and experienced people with major expertise in various areas ranging from programming to management to game theory to politics to economics have been making some serious, mature, compelling arguments.
But, as I've been saying, the only problem to me is: in many of these cases, these arguments are vehemently in opposition to each other! So I find myself agreeing with pretty much all of them, one by one - which means the end result is just a giant contradiction.
I mean, today we have Bram Cohen, the inventor of BitTorrent, arguing (quite cogently and convincingly to me), that it would be dangerous to increase the blocksize. And this seems to be a guy who would know a few things about scaling out a massive global p2p network - since the protocol which he invented, BitTorrent, is now apparently responsible for like a third of the traffic on the internet (and this despite the long-term concerted efforts of major evil players such as the MPAA and the FBI to shut the whole thing down). Was the BitTorrent analogy too "glib"?
By the way - I would like to go on a slight tangent here and say that one of the main reasons why I felt so "comfortable" jumping on the Bitcoin train back a few years ago, when I first heard about it and got into it, was the whole rough analogy I saw with BitTorrent.
I remembered the perhaps paradoxical fact that when a torrent is more
popular (eg, a major movie release that just came out last week), then it actually becomes faster
to download. More people want it, so more people have a few pieces of it, so more people are able to get it from each other. A kind of self-correcting economic feedback loop, where more demand directly leads to more supply.
(BitTorrent manages to pull this off by essentially adding a certain structure to the file being shared, so that it's not simply like an append-only list
of 1 MB blocks, but rather more like an random-access or indexed array
of 1 MB chunks. Say you're downloading a film which is 700 MB. As soon as your "client" program has downloaded a single 1-MB chunk - say chunk #99 - your "client" program instantly turns into a "server" program as well - offering that chunk #99 to other clients. From my simplistic understanding, I believe the Bitcoin protocol does something similar, to provide a p2p architecture. Hence my - perhaps naïve - assumption that Bitcoin already had the right algorithms / architecture / data structure to scale.)
The efficiency of the BitTorrent network seemed to jive with that "network law" (Metcalfe's Law?) about fax machines. This law states that the more fax machines there are, the more valuable the network of fax machines becomes. Or the value of the network grows on the order of the square of the number of nodes.
This is in contrast with other technology like cars, where the more
you have, the worse
things get. The more cars there are, the more traffic jams you have, so things start going downhill. I guess this is because highway space is limited - after all, we can't pave over the entire countryside, and we never did get those flying cars we were promised, as David Graeber laments in a recent essay in The Baffler magazine :-)
And regarding the "stress test" supposedly happening right now in the middle of this ongoing blocksize debate, I don't know what worries me more: the fact that it apparently is taking only $5,000 to do a simple kind of DoS on the blockchain - or the fact that there are a few rumors swirling around saying that the unknown company doing the stress test shares the same physical mailing address with a "scam" company?
Or maybe we should just be worried that so much of this debate is happening on a handful of forums which are controlled by some guy named theymos who's already engaged in some pretty "contentious" or "controversial" behavior like blowing a million dollars on writing forum software (I guess he never heard that reddit.com software is open-source)?
So I worry that the great promise of "decentralization" might be more fragile than we originally thought. Scaling
Anyways, back to Metcalfe's Law: with virtual stuff, like torrents and fax machines, the more the merrier. The more people downloading a given movie, the faster it arrives - and the more people own fax machines, the more valuable the overall fax network.
So I kindof (naïvely?) assumed that Bitcoin, being "virtual" and p2p, would somehow scale up the same magical way BitTorrrent did. I just figured that more people using it would somehow automatically make it stronger and faster.
But now a lot of devs have started talking in terms of the old "scarcity" paradigm, talking about blockspace being a "scarce resource" and talking about "fee markets" - which seems kinda scary, and antithetical to much of the earlier rhetoric we heard about Bitcoin (the stuff about supporting our favorite creators with micropayments, and the stuff about Africans using SMS to send around payments).
Look, when some asshole is in line in front of you at the cash register and he's holding up the line so they can run his credit card
to buy a bag of Cheeto's, we tend to get pissed off at the guy - clogging up our expensive global electronic payment infrastructure to make a two-dollar purchase. And that's on a fairly efficient centralized system - and presumably after a year or so, VISA and the guy's bank can delete or compress the transaction in their SQL databases.
Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but if some guy buys a coffee on the blockchain, or if somebody pays an online artist $1.99 for their work - then that transaction, a few bytes or so, has to live on the blockchain forever?
Or is there some "pruning" thing that gets rid of it after a while?
And this could lead to another question: Viewed from the perspective of double-entry bookkeeping, is the blockchain "world-wide ledger" more like the "balance sheet" part of accounting, i.e. a snapshot
assets and liabilities? Or is it more like the "cash flow" part of accounting, i.e. a journal
revenues and expenses?
When I think of thousands of machines around the globe having to lug around multiple identical copies of a multi-gigabyte file containing some asshole's coffee purchase forever and ever... I feel like I'm ideologically drifting in one direction (where I'd end up also being against really cool stuff like online micropayments and Africans banking via SMS)... so I don't want to go there.
But on the other hand, when really experienced and battle-tested veterans with major experience in the world of open-souce programming and project management (the "small-blockians") warn of the catastrophic consequences of a possible failed hard-fork, I get freaked out and I wonder if Bitcoin really was destined to be a settlement layer for big transactions. Could the original programmer(s) possibly weigh in?
And I don't mean to appeal to authority - but heck, where the hell is Satoshi Nakamoto in all this? I do understand that he/she/they would want to maintain absolute anonymity - but on the other hand, I assume SN wants Bitcoin to succeed (both for the future of humanity - or at least for all the bitcoins SN allegedly holds :-) - and I understand there is a way that SN can cryptographically sign a message - and I understand that as the original developer of Bitcoin, SN had some very specific opinions about the blocksize... So I'm kinda wondering of Satoshi could weigh in from time to time. Just to help out a bit. I'm not saying "Show us a sign" like a deity or something - but damn it sure would be fascinating and possibly very helpful if Satoshi gave us his/hetheir 2 satoshis worth at this really confusing juncture. Are we using our capacity wisely?
I'm not a programming or game-theory whiz, I'm just a casual user who has tried to keep up with technology over the years.
It just seems weird to me that here we have this massive supercomputer (500 times more powerful than the all the supercomputers in the world combined) doing fairly straightforward "embarassingly parallel" number-crunching operations to secure a p2p world-wide ledger called the blockchain to keep track of a measly 2.1 quadrillion tokens spread out among a few billion addresses - and a couple of years ago you had people like Rick Falkvinge saying the blockchain would someday be supporting multi-million-dollar letters of credit for international trade and you had people like Andreas Antonopoulos saying the blockchain would someday allow billions of "unbanked" people to send remittances around the village or around the world dirt-cheap - and now suddenly in June 2015 we're talking about blockspace as a "scarce resource" and talking about "fee markets" and partially centralized, corporate-sponsored "Level 2" vaporware like Lightning Network and some mysterious company is "stess testing" or "DoS-ing" the system by throwing away a measly $5,000 and suddenly it sounds like the whole system could eventually head right back into PayPal and Western Union territory again, in terms of expensive fees.
When I got into Bitcoin, I really was heavily influenced by vague analogies with BitTorrent: I figured everyone would just have tiny little like utorrent-type program running on their machine (ie, Bitcoin-QT or Armory or Mycelium etc.).
I figured that just like anyone can host a their own blog or webserver, anyone would be able to host their own bank.
Yeah, Google and and Mozilla and Twitter and Facebook and WhatsApp did come along and build stuff on top of TCP/IP, so I did expect a bunch of companies to build layers on top of the Bitcoin protocol as well. But I still figured the basic unit of bitcoin client software powering the overall system would be small and personal and affordable and p2p - like a bittorrent client - or at the most, like a cheap server hosting a blog or email server.
And I figured there would be a way at the software level, at the architecture level, at the algorithmic level, at the data structure level - to let the thing scale - if not infinitely, at least fairly massively and gracefully - the same way the BitTorrent network has.
Of course, I do also understand that with BitTorrent, you're sharing a read-only object (eg, a movie) - whereas with Bitcoin, you're achieving distributed trustless consensus and appending it to a write-only (or append-only) database.
So I do understand that the problem which BitTorrent solves is much simpler than the problem which Bitcoin sets out to solve.
But still, it seems that there's got
to be a way to make this thing scale. It's p2p and it's got 500 times more computing power than all the supercomputers in the world combined - and so many brilliant and motivated and inspired people want this thing to succeed! And Bitcoin could be our civilization's last chance to steer away from the oncoming debt-based ditch of disaster we seem to be driving into!
It just seems that Bitcoin has got
to be able to scale somehow - and all these smart people working together should be able to come up with a solution which pretty much everyone can agree - in advance - will
Right? Right? A (probably irrelevant) tangent on algorithms and architecture and data structures
I'll finally weigh with my personal perspective - although I might be biased due to my background (which is more on the theoretical side of computer science).
My own modest - or perhaps radical - suggestion would be to ask whether we're really looking at all the best possible algorithms and architectures and data structures out there.
From this perspective, I sometimes worry that the overwhelming majority of the great minds working on the programming and game-theory stuff might come from a rather specific, shall we say "von Neumann" or "procedural" or "imperative" school of programming (ie, C and Python and Java programmers).
It seems strange to me that such a cutting-edge and important computer project would have so little participation from the great minds at the other
end of the spectrum of programming paradigms - namely, the "functional" and "declarative" and "algebraic" (and co-algebraic!) worlds.
For example, I was struck in particular by statements I've seen here and there (which seemed rather hubristic or lackadaisical to me - for something as important as Bitcoin
), that the specification
of Bitcoin and the blockchain doesn't really exist in any form other than the reference implementation(s)
languages such as C or Python?). Curry-Howard anyone?
I mean, many computer scientists are aware of the Curry-Howard isomorophism, which basically says that the relationship between a theorem and its proof is equivalent to the relationship between a specification and its implementation. In other words, there is a long tradition in mathematics (and in computer programming) of:
- separating the compact (and easy-to-check) statement of a theorem from the messy (and hard-to-check) details of its proof(s);
- separating the specification of a system from its implementation(s); and
- being able to prove that an implementation does indeed satisfy its specification.
And it's not exactly "turtles all the way down" either: a specification is generally simple and compact enough that a good programmer can usually simply visually inspect it to determine if it is indeed "correct" - something which is very difficult, if not impossible, to do with a program written in a procedural, implementation-oriented language such as C or Python or Java.
So I worry that we've got this tradition, from the open-source github C/Java programming tradition, of never actually writing our "specification", and only writing the "implementation". In mission-critical military-grade programming projects (which often use languages like Ada or Maude) this is simply not allowed. It would seem that a project as mission-critical as Bitcoin - which could literally be crucial for humanity's continued survival - should also use this kind of military-grade software development approach.
And I'm not saying rewrite the implementations in these kind of theoretical languages. But it might be helpful if the C/Python/Java programmers in the Bitcoin imperative programming world could build some bridges to the Maude/Haskell/ML programmers of the functional and algebraic programming worlds to see if any kind of useful cross-pollination might take place - between specifications and implementations.
For example, the JavaFAN formal analyzer for multi-threaded Java programs (developed using tools based on the Maude language) was applied to the Remote Agent AI program aboard NASA's Deep Space 1 shuttle, written in Java - and it took only a few minutes using formal mathematical reasoning to detect a potential deadlock which would have occurred years later during the space mission when the damn spacecraft was already way out around Pluto.
And "the Maude-NRL (Naval Research Laboratory) Protocol Analyzer (Maude-NPA) is a tool used to provide security proofs of cryptographic protocols and to search for protocol flaws and cryptosystem attacks."
These are open-source formal reasoning tools developed by DARPA and used by NASA and the US Navy to ensure that program implementations satisfy their specifications. It would be great if some of the people involved in these kinds of projects could contribute to help ensure the security and scalability of Bitcoin.
But there is a wide abyss between the kinds of programmers who use languages like Maude and the kinds of programmers who use languages like C/Python/Java - and it can be really hard to get the two worlds to meet. There is a bit of rapprochement between these language communities in languages which might be considered as being somewhere in the middle, such as Haskell and ML. I just worry that Bitcoin might be turning into being an exclusively C/Python/Java project (with the algorithms and practitioners traditionally of that community), when it could be more advantageous if it also had some people from the functional and algebraic-specification and program-verification community involved as well. The thing is, though: the theoretical practitioners are big on "semantics" - I've heard them say stuff like "Yes but a C / C++ program has no easily identifiable semantics". So to get them involved, you really have to first be able to talk about what
your program does (specification) - before proceeding to describe how
it does it (implementation). And writing high-level specifications is typically very hard using the syntax and semantics of languages like C and Java and Python - whereas specs are fairly easy to write in Maude - and not only that, they're executable, and you state and verify properties about them - which provides for the kind of debate Nick Szabo was advocating ("more computer science, less noise"). Imagine if we had an executable algebraic specification of Bitcoin in Maude, where we could formally reason about and verify certain crucial game-theoretical properties - rather than merely hand-waving and arguing and deploying and praying.
And so in the theoretical programming community you've got major research on various logics such as Girard's Linear Logic (which is resource-conscious) and Bruni and Montanari's Tile Logic (which enables "pasting" bigger systems together from smaller ones in space and time), and executable algebraic specification languages such as Meseguer's Maude (which would be perfect for game theory modeling, with its functional modules for specifying the deterministic parts of systems and its system modules for specifiying non-deterministic parts of systems, and its parameterized skeletons for sketching out the typical architectures of mobile systems, and its formal reasoning and verification tools and libraries which have been specifically applied to testing and breaking - and fixing - cryptographic protocols).
And somewhat closer to the practical hands-on world, you've got stuff like Google's MapReduce and lots of Big Data database languages developed by Google as well. And yet here we are with a mempool growing dangerously big for RAM on a single machine, and a 20-GB append-only list as our database - and not much debate on practical results from Google's Big Data databases.
(And by the way: maybe I'm totally ignorant for asking this, but I'll ask anyways: why the hell does the mempool have to stay in RAM? Couldn't it work just as well if it were stored temporarily on the hard drive?)
And you've got CalvinDB out of Yale which apparently provides an ACID layer on top of a massively distributed database.
Look, I'm just an armchair follower cheering on these projects. I can barely manage to write a query in SQL, or read through a C or Python or Java program. But I would argue two points here: (1) these languages may be too low-level and "non-formal" for writing and modeling and formally reasoning about and proving properties of mission-critical specifications
- and (2) there seem to be some Big Data tools already deployed by institutions such as Google and Yale which support global petabyte-size databases on commodity boxes with nice properties such as near-real-time and ACID - and I sometimes worry that the "core devs" might be failing to review the literature (and reach out to fellow programmers) out there to see if there might be some formal program-verification and practical Big Data tools out there which could be applied to coming up with rock-solid, 100% consensus proposals to handle an issue such as blocksize scaling, which seems to have become much more intractable than many people might have expected.
I mean, the protocol solved the hard stuff: the elliptical-curve stuff and the Byzantine General stuff. How the heck can we be falling down on the comparatively "easier" stuff - like scaling the blocksize?
It just seems like defeatism to say "Well, the blockchain is already 20-30 GB and it's gonna be 20-30 TB ten years from now - and we need 10 Mbs bandwidth now and 10,000 Mbs bandwidth 20 years from - assuming the evil Verizon and AT&T actually give us that - so let's just become a settlement platform and give up on buying coffee or banking the unbanked or doing micropayments, and let's push all that stuff into some corporate-controlled vaporware without even a whitepaper yet."
So you've got Peter Todd doing some possibly brilliant theorizing and extrapolating on the idea of "treechains" - there is a Let's Talk Bitcoin podcast from about a year ago where he sketches the rough outlines of this idea out in a very inspiring, high-level way - although the specifics have yet to be hammered out. And we've got Blockstream also doing some hopeful hand-waving about the Lightning Network.
Things like Peter Todd's treechains - which may be similar to the spark in some devs' eyes called Lightning Network - are examples of the kind of algorithm or architecture which might
manage to harness the massive computing power of miners and nodes in such a way that certain kinds of massive and graceful scaling become possible.
It just seems like a kindof tiny dev community working on this stuff. Being a C or Python or Java programmer should not be a pre-req to being able to help contribute to the specification (and formal reasoning and program verification) for Bitcoin and the blockchain.
XML and UML are crap modeling and specification languages, and C and Java and Python are even worse (as specification
languages - although as implementation
languages, they are of course fine).
But there are
serious modeling and specification languages out there, and they could be very helpful at times like this - where what we're dealing with is questions of modeling and specification (ie, "needs and requirements").
One just doesn't often see the practical, hands-on world of open-source github implementation-level programmers and the academic, theoretical world of specification-level programmers meeting very often. I wish there were some way to get these two worlds to collaborate on Bitcoin.
Maybe a good first step to reach out to the theoretical people would be to provide a modular executable algebraic specification of the Bitcoin protocol in a recognized, military/NASA-grade specification language such as Maude - because that's something the theoretical community can actually wrap their heads around, whereas it's very hard to get them to pay attention to something written only
as a C / Python / Java implementation (without an accompanying specification in a formal language).
They can't check whether the program does what it's supposed to do - if you don't provide a formal mathematical definition of what the program is supposed to do. Specification : Implementation :: Theorem : Proof
You have to remember: the theoretical community is very
aware of the Curry-Howard isomorphism. Just like it would be hard to get a mathematician's attention by merely showing them a proof
without telling also telling them what theorem
the proof is proving - by the same token, it's hard to get the attention of a theoretical computer scientist by merely showing them an implementation
without showing them the specification
that it implements.
Bitcoin is currently confronted with a mathematical or "computer science" problem: how to secure the network while getting high enough transactional throughput, while staying within the limited RAM, bandwidth and hard drive space limitations of current and future infrastructure. The problem only becomes a political and economic problem if we give up on trying to solve it as a mathematical and "theoretical computer science" problem.
There should be a plethora of whitepapers out now proposing algorithmic solutions to these scaling issues. Remember, all we have to do is apply the Byzantine General consensus-reaching procedure to a worldwide database which shuffles 2.1 quadrillion tokens among a few billion addresses. The 21 company has emphatically pointed out that racing to compute a hash to add a block is an "embarrassingly parallel" problem - very easy to decompose among cheap, fault-prone, commodity boxes, and recompose into an overall solution - along the lines of Google's highly successful MapReduce.
I guess what I'm really saying is (and I don't mean to be rude here), is that C and Python and Java programmers might not be the best qualified people to develop and formally prove the correctness of (note I do not say: "test", I say "formally prove the correctness of") these kinds of algorithms.
I really believe in the importance of getting the algorithms and architectures right - look at Google Search itself, it uses some pretty brilliant algorithms and architectures (eg, MapReduce, Paxos) which enable it to achieve amazing performance - on pretty crappy commodity hardware. And look at BitTorrent, which is truly p2p, where more demand leads to more supply.
So, in this vein, I will close this lengthy rant with an oddly specific link - which may or may not be able to make some interesting contributions to finding suitable algorithms, architectures and data structures which might help Bitcoin scale massively. I have no idea if this link could be helpful - but given the near-total lack of people from the Haskell and ML and functional worlds in these Bitcoin specification debates, I thought I'd be remiss if I didn't throw this out - just in case there might be something here which could help us channel the massive computing power of the Bitcoin network in such a way as to enable us simply sidestep this kind of desperate debate where both sides seem right because the other side seems wrong. https://personal.cis.strath.ac.uk/neil.ghani/papers/ghani-calco07
The above paper is about "higher dimensional trees". It uses a bit of category theory (not a whole lot) and a bit of Haskell (again not a lot - just a simple data structure called a Rose tree, which has a wikipedia page) to develop a very expressive and efficient data structure which generalizes from lists to trees to higher dimensions.
I have no idea if this kind of data structure could be applicable to the current scaling mess we apparently are getting bogged down in - I don't have the game-theory skills to figure it out.
I just thought that since the blockchain is like a list, and since there are some tree-like structures which have been grafted on for efficiency (eg Merkle trees) and since many of the futuristic scaling proposals seem to also involve generalizing from list-like structures (eg, the blockchain) to tree-like structures (eg, side-chains and tree-chains)... well, who knows, there might be some nugget of algorithmic or architectural or data-structure inspiration there. So... TL;DR:
(1) I'm freaked out that this blocksize debate has splintered the community so badly and dragged on so long, with no resolution in sight, and both sides seeming so right (because the other side seems so wrong).
(2) I think Bitcoin could gain immensely by using high-level formal, algebraic and co-algebraic program specification and verification languages (such as Maude including Maude-NPA, Mobile Maude parameterized skeletons, etc.) to specify (and possibly also, to some degree, verify) what
Bitcoin does - before translating to low-level implementation
languages such as C and Python and Java saying how
Bitcoin does it. This would help to communicate and reason about programs with much more mathematical certitude - and possibly obviate the need for many political and economic tradeoffs which currently seem dismally inevitable - and possibly widen the collaboration on this project.
(3) I wonder if there are some Big Data approaches out there (eg, along the lines of Google's MapReduce and BigTable, or Yale's CalvinDB), which could be implemented to allow Bitcoin to scale massively and painlessly - and to satisfy all stakeholders, ranging from millionaires to micropayments, coffee drinkers to the great "unbanked".
The man who has identified himself as the creator of Bitcoin plans to provide further proof of his claim. ... Flying foxes 'among Earth's most mobile mammals' Video Flying foxes 'among Earth's ... Australian tech entrepreneur Craig Wright identified himself on Monday as the creator of controversial digital currency bitcoin. "It's irrelevant because his announcement doesn't solve a problem or resolve a conflict," said Bharat Solanki, managing director at Cambrian Consulting in New York. An Australian academic and entrepreneur, Craig Wright, identified himself as Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of the crypto-currency Bitcoin. The mythical bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto may not be a myth after all. He may in fact be a rumpled 64-year-old man named Satoshi Nakamoto who is living quietly in the San Gabriel Valley. The news of the all-time high in plus balance addresses comes from venture investor Alex Thorn (@intangiblecoins). Using data from CoinMetrics.io, he identified that the number of addresses holding any amount of Bitcoin has surpassed the previous all-time high of 28.38 million, achieved at the height of the bull market of 2017.
Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright has publicly identified himself as Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto. His admission ends years of speculation about who came up with the original ideas ... Gavin Andresen, chief scientist at the Bitcoin Foundation, speaks about Craig Wright, who has publicly identified himself as Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin. Earlier, Mr Craig Wright ... Australian entrepreneur Craig White has publicly identified himself as Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto. Subscribe to BBC News HERE http://bit.ly/1rbfUog Che... This is the CD launcher that I made. It is quite weak but fun to play. IFO: Identified Flying Object. Australian entrepreneur and computer scientist Craig Steven Wright has publicly identified himself as Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin. During a meet...