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Why i’m bullish on Zilliqa (long read)

Edit: TL;DR added in the comments
 
Hey all, I've been researching coins since 2017 and have gone through 100s of them in the last 3 years. I got introduced to blockchain via Bitcoin of course, analyzed Ethereum thereafter and from that moment I have a keen interest in smart contact platforms. I’m passionate about Ethereum but I find Zilliqa to have a better risk-reward ratio. Especially because Zilliqa has found an elegant balance between being secure, decentralized and scalable in my opinion.
 
Below I post my analysis of why from all the coins I went through I’m most bullish on Zilliqa (yes I went through Tezos, EOS, NEO, VeChain, Harmony, Algorand, Cardano etc.). Note that this is not investment advice and although it's a thorough analysis there is obviously some bias involved. Looking forward to what you all think!
 
Fun fact: the name Zilliqa is a play on ‘silica’ silicon dioxide which means “Silicon for the high-throughput consensus computer.”
 
This post is divided into (i) Technology, (ii) Business & Partnerships, and (iii) Marketing & Community. I’ve tried to make the technology part readable for a broad audience. If you’ve ever tried understanding the inner workings of Bitcoin and Ethereum you should be able to grasp most parts. Otherwise, just skim through and once you are zoning out head to the next part.
 
Technology and some more:
 
Introduction
 
The technology is one of the main reasons why I’m so bullish on Zilliqa. First thing you see on their website is: “Zilliqa is a high-performance, high-security blockchain platform for enterprises and next-generation applications.” These are some bold statements.
 
Before we deep dive into the technology let’s take a step back in time first as they have quite the history. The initial research paper from which Zilliqa originated dates back to August 2016: Elastico: A Secure Sharding Protocol For Open Blockchains where Loi Luu (Kyber Network) is one of the co-authors. Other ideas that led to the development of what Zilliqa has become today are: Bitcoin-NG, collective signing CoSi, ByzCoin and Omniledger.
 
The technical white paper was made public in August 2017 and since then they have achieved everything stated in the white paper and also created their own open source intermediate level smart contract language called Scilla (functional programming language similar to OCaml) too.
 
Mainnet is live since the end of January 2019 with daily transaction rates growing continuously. About a week ago mainnet reached 5 million transactions, 500.000+ addresses in total along with 2400 nodes keeping the network decentralized and secure. Circulating supply is nearing 11 billion and currently only mining rewards are left. The maximum supply is 21 billion with annual inflation being 7.13% currently and will only decrease with time.
 
Zilliqa realized early on that the usage of public cryptocurrencies and smart contracts were increasing but decentralized, secure, and scalable alternatives were lacking in the crypto space. They proposed to apply sharding onto a public smart contract blockchain where the transaction rate increases almost linear with the increase in the amount of nodes. More nodes = higher transaction throughput and increased decentralization. Sharding comes in many forms and Zilliqa uses network-, transaction- and computational sharding. Network sharding opens up the possibility of using transaction- and computational sharding on top. Zilliqa does not use state sharding for now. We’ll come back to this later.
 
Before we continue dissecting how Zilliqa achieves such from a technological standpoint it’s good to keep in mind that a blockchain being decentralised and secure and scalable is still one of the main hurdles in allowing widespread usage of decentralised networks. In my opinion this needs to be solved first before blockchains can get to the point where they can create and add large scale value. So I invite you to read the next section to grasp the underlying fundamentals. Because after all these premises need to be true otherwise there isn’t a fundamental case to be bullish on Zilliqa, right?
 
Down the rabbit hole
 
How have they achieved this? Let’s define the basics first: key players on Zilliqa are the users and the miners. A user is anybody who uses the blockchain to transfer funds or run smart contracts. Miners are the (shard) nodes in the network who run the consensus protocol and get rewarded for their service in Zillings (ZIL). The mining network is divided into several smaller networks called shards, which is also referred to as ‘network sharding’. Miners subsequently are randomly assigned to a shard by another set of miners called DS (Directory Service) nodes. The regular shards process transactions and the outputs of these shards are eventually combined by the DS shard as they reach consensus on the final state. More on how these DS shards reach consensus (via pBFT) will be explained later on.
 
The Zilliqa network produces two types of blocks: DS blocks and Tx blocks. One DS Block consists of 100 Tx Blocks. And as previously mentioned there are two types of nodes concerned with reaching consensus: shard nodes and DS nodes. Becoming a shard node or DS node is being defined by the result of a PoW cycle (Ethash) at the beginning of the DS Block. All candidate mining nodes compete with each other and run the PoW (Proof-of-Work) cycle for 60 seconds and the submissions achieving the highest difficulty will be allowed on the network. And to put it in perspective: the average difficulty for one DS node is ~ 2 Th/s equaling 2.000.000 Mh/s or 55 thousand+ GeForce GTX 1070 / 8 GB GPUs at 35.4 Mh/s. Each DS Block 10 new DS nodes are allowed. And a shard node needs to provide around 8.53 GH/s currently (around 240 GTX 1070s). Dual mining ETH/ETC and ZIL is possible and can be done via mining software such as Phoenix and Claymore. There are pools and if you have large amounts of hashing power (Ethash) available you could mine solo.
 
The PoW cycle of 60 seconds is a peak performance and acts as an entry ticket to the network. The entry ticket is called a sybil resistance mechanism and makes it incredibly hard for adversaries to spawn lots of identities and manipulate the network with these identities. And after every 100 Tx Blocks which corresponds to roughly 1,5 hour this PoW process repeats. In between these 1,5 hour, no PoW needs to be done meaning Zilliqa’s energy consumption to keep the network secure is low. For more detailed information on how mining works click here.
Okay, hats off to you. You have made it this far. Before we go any deeper down the rabbit hole we first must understand why Zilliqa goes through all of the above technicalities and understand a bit more what a blockchain on a more fundamental level is. Because the core of Zilliqa’s consensus protocol relies on the usage of pBFT (practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance) we need to know more about state machines and their function. Navigate to Viewblock, a Zilliqa block explorer, and just come back to this article. We will use this site to navigate through a few concepts.
 
We have established that Zilliqa is a public and distributed blockchain. Meaning that everyone with an internet connection can send ZILs, trigger smart contracts, etc. and there is no central authority who fully controls the network. Zilliqa and other public and distributed blockchains (like Bitcoin and Ethereum) can also be defined as state machines.
 
Taking the liberty of paraphrasing examples and definitions given by Samuel Brooks’ medium article, he describes the definition of a blockchain (like Zilliqa) as: “A peer-to-peer, append-only datastore that uses consensus to synchronize cryptographically-secure data”.
 
Next, he states that: "blockchains are fundamentally systems for managing valid state transitions”. For some more context, I recommend reading the whole medium article to get a better grasp of the definitions and understanding of state machines. Nevertheless, let’s try to simplify and compile it into a single paragraph. Take traffic lights as an example: all its states (red, amber, and green) are predefined, all possible outcomes are known and it doesn’t matter if you encounter the traffic light today or tomorrow. It will still behave the same. Managing the states of a traffic light can be done by triggering a sensor on the road or pushing a button resulting in one traffic lights’ state going from green to red (via amber) and another light from red to green.
 
With public blockchains like Zilliqa, this isn’t so straightforward and simple. It started with block #1 almost 1,5 years ago and every 45 seconds or so a new block linked to the previous block is being added. Resulting in a chain of blocks with transactions in it that everyone can verify from block #1 to the current #647.000+ block. The state is ever changing and the states it can find itself in are infinite. And while the traffic light might work together in tandem with various other traffic lights, it’s rather insignificant comparing it to a public blockchain. Because Zilliqa consists of 2400 nodes who need to work together to achieve consensus on what the latest valid state is while some of these nodes may have latency or broadcast issues, drop offline or are deliberately trying to attack the network, etc.
 
Now go back to the Viewblock page take a look at the amount of transaction, addresses, block and DS height and then hit refresh. Obviously as expected you see new incremented values on one or all parameters. And how did the Zilliqa blockchain manage to transition from a previous valid state to the latest valid state? By using pBFT to reach consensus on the latest valid state.
 
After having obtained the entry ticket, miners execute pBFT to reach consensus on the ever-changing state of the blockchain. pBFT requires a series of network communication between nodes, and as such there is no GPU involved (but CPU). Resulting in the total energy consumed to keep the blockchain secure, decentralized and scalable being low.
 
pBFT stands for practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance and is an optimization on the Byzantine Fault Tolerant algorithm. To quote Blockonomi: “In the context of distributed systems, Byzantine Fault Tolerance is the ability of a distributed computer network to function as desired and correctly reach a sufficient consensus despite malicious components (nodes) of the system failing or propagating incorrect information to other peers.” Zilliqa is such a distributed computer network and depends on the honesty of the nodes (shard and DS) to reach consensus and to continuously update the state with the latest block. If pBFT is a new term for you I can highly recommend the Blockonomi article.
 
The idea of pBFT was introduced in 1999 - one of the authors even won a Turing award for it - and it is well researched and applied in various blockchains and distributed systems nowadays. If you want more advanced information than the Blockonomi link provides click here. And if you’re in between Blockonomi and the University of Singapore read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 2 dating from October 2017.
Quoting from the Zilliqa tech whitepaper: “pBFT relies upon a correct leader (which is randomly selected) to begin each phase and proceed when the sufficient majority exists. In case the leader is byzantine it can stall the entire consensus protocol. To address this challenge, pBFT offers a view change protocol to replace the byzantine leader with another one.”
 
pBFT can tolerate ⅓ of the nodes being dishonest (offline counts as Byzantine = dishonest) and the consensus protocol will function without stalling or hiccups. Once there are more than ⅓ of dishonest nodes but no more than ⅔ the network will be stalled and a view change will be triggered to elect a new DS leader. Only when more than ⅔ of the nodes are dishonest (66%) double-spend attacks become possible.
 
If the network stalls no transactions can be processed and one has to wait until a new honest leader has been elected. When the mainnet was just launched and in its early phases, view changes happened regularly. As of today the last stalling of the network - and view change being triggered - was at the end of October 2019.
 
Another benefit of using pBFT for consensus besides low energy is the immediate finality it provides. Once your transaction is included in a block and the block is added to the chain it’s done. Lastly, take a look at this article where three types of finality are being defined: probabilistic, absolute and economic finality. Zilliqa falls under the absolute finality (just like Tendermint for example). Although lengthy already we skipped through some of the inner workings from Zilliqa’s consensus: read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 3 and you will be close to having a complete picture on it. Enough about PoW, sybil resistance mechanism, pBFT, etc. Another thing we haven’t looked at yet is the amount of decentralization.
 
Decentralisation
 
Currently, there are four shards, each one of them consisting of 600 nodes. 1 shard with 600 so-called DS nodes (Directory Service - they need to achieve a higher difficulty than shard nodes) and 1800 shard nodes of which 250 are shard guards (centralized nodes controlled by the team). The amount of shard guards has been steadily declining from 1200 in January 2019 to 250 as of May 2020. On the Viewblock statistics, you can see that many of the nodes are being located in the US but those are only the (CPU parts of the) shard nodes who perform pBFT. There is no data from where the PoW sources are coming. And when the Zilliqa blockchain starts reaching its transaction capacity limit, a network upgrade needs to be executed to lift the current cap of maximum 2400 nodes to allow more nodes and formation of more shards which will allow to network to keep on scaling according to demand.
Besides shard nodes there are also seed nodes. The main role of seed nodes is to serve as direct access points (for end-users and clients) to the core Zilliqa network that validates transactions. Seed nodes consolidate transaction requests and forward these to the lookup nodes (another type of nodes) for distribution to the shards in the network. Seed nodes also maintain the entire transaction history and the global state of the blockchain which is needed to provide services such as block explorers. Seed nodes in the Zilliqa network are comparable to Infura on Ethereum.
 
The seed nodes were first only operated by Zilliqa themselves, exchanges and Viewblock. Operators of seed nodes like exchanges had no incentive to open them for the greater public. They were centralised at first. Decentralisation at the seed nodes level has been steadily rolled out since March 2020 ( Zilliqa Improvement Proposal 3 ). Currently the amount of seed nodes is being increased, they are public-facing and at the same time PoS is applied to incentivize seed node operators and make it possible for ZIL holders to stake and earn passive yields. Important distinction: seed nodes are not involved with consensus! That is still PoW as entry ticket and pBFT for the actual consensus.
 
5% of the block rewards are being assigned to seed nodes (from the beginning in 2019) and those are being used to pay out ZIL stakers. The 5% block rewards with an annual yield of 10.03% translate to roughly 610 MM ZILs in total that can be staked. Exchanges use the custodial variant of staking and wallets like Moonlet will use the non-custodial version (starting in Q3 2020). Staking is being done by sending ZILs to a smart contract created by Zilliqa and audited by Quantstamp.
 
With a high amount of DS; shard nodes and seed nodes becoming more decentralized too, Zilliqa qualifies for the label of decentralized in my opinion.
 
Smart contracts
 
Let me start by saying I’m not a developer and my programming skills are quite limited. So I‘m taking the ELI5 route (maybe 12) but if you are familiar with Javascript, Solidity or specifically OCaml please head straight to Scilla - read the docs to get a good initial grasp of how Zilliqa’s smart contract language Scilla works and if you ask yourself “why another programming language?” check this article. And if you want to play around with some sample contracts in an IDE click here. The faucet can be found here. And more information on architecture, dapp development and API can be found on the Developer Portal.
If you are more into listening and watching: check this recent webinar explaining Zilliqa and Scilla. Link is time-stamped so you’ll start right away with a platform introduction, roadmap 2020 and afterwards a proper Scilla introduction.
 
Generalized: programming languages can be divided into being ‘object-oriented’ or ‘functional’. Here is an ELI5 given by software development academy: * “all programs have two basic components, data – what the program knows – and behavior – what the program can do with that data. So object-oriented programming states that combining data and related behaviors in one place, is called “object”, which makes it easier to understand how a particular program works. On the other hand, functional programming argues that data and behavior are different things and should be separated to ensure their clarity.” *
 
Scilla is on the functional side and shares similarities with OCaml: OCaml is a general-purpose programming language with an emphasis on expressiveness and safety. It has an advanced type system that helps catch your mistakes without getting in your way. It's used in environments where a single mistake can cost millions and speed matters, is supported by an active community, and has a rich set of libraries and development tools. For all its power, OCaml is also pretty simple, which is one reason it's often used as a teaching language.
 
Scilla is blockchain agnostic, can be implemented onto other blockchains as well, is recognized by academics and won a so-called Distinguished Artifact Award award at the end of last year.
 
One of the reasons why the Zilliqa team decided to create their own programming language focused on preventing smart contract vulnerabilities is that adding logic on a blockchain, programming, means that you cannot afford to make mistakes. Otherwise, it could cost you. It’s all great and fun blockchains being immutable but updating your code because you found a bug isn’t the same as with a regular web application for example. And with smart contracts, it inherently involves cryptocurrencies in some form thus value.
 
Another difference with programming languages on a blockchain is gas. Every transaction you do on a smart contract platform like Zilliqa or Ethereum costs gas. With gas you basically pay for computational costs. Sending a ZIL from address A to address B costs 0.001 ZIL currently. Smart contracts are more complex, often involve various functions and require more gas (if gas is a new concept click here ).
 
So with Scilla, similar to Solidity, you need to make sure that “every function in your smart contract will run as expected without hitting gas limits. An improper resource analysis may lead to situations where funds may get stuck simply because a part of the smart contract code cannot be executed due to gas limits. Such constraints are not present in traditional software systems”. Scilla design story part 1
 
Some examples of smart contract issues you’d want to avoid are: leaking funds, ‘unexpected changes to critical state variables’ (example: someone other than you setting his or her address as the owner of the smart contract after creation) or simply killing a contract.
 
Scilla also allows for formal verification. Wikipedia to the rescue: In the context of hardware and software systems, formal verification is the act of proving or disproving the correctness of intended algorithms underlying a system with respect to a certain formal specification or property, using formal methods of mathematics.
 
Formal verification can be helpful in proving the correctness of systems such as: cryptographic protocols, combinational circuits, digital circuits with internal memory, and software expressed as source code.
 
Scilla is being developed hand-in-hand with formalization of its semantics and its embedding into the Coq proof assistant — a state-of-the art tool for mechanized proofs about properties of programs.”
 
Simply put, with Scilla and accompanying tooling developers can be mathematically sure and proof that the smart contract they’ve written does what he or she intends it to do.
 
Smart contract on a sharded environment and state sharding
 
There is one more topic I’d like to touch on: smart contract execution in a sharded environment (and what is the effect of state sharding). This is a complex topic. I’m not able to explain it any easier than what is posted here. But I will try to compress the post into something easy to digest.
 
Earlier on we have established that Zilliqa can process transactions in parallel due to network sharding. This is where the linear scalability comes from. We can define simple transactions: a transaction from address A to B (Category 1), a transaction where a user interacts with one smart contract (Category 2) and the most complex ones where triggering a transaction results in multiple smart contracts being involved (Category 3). The shards are able to process transactions on their own without interference of the other shards. With Category 1 transactions that is doable, with Category 2 transactions sometimes if that address is in the same shard as the smart contract but with Category 3 you definitely need communication between the shards. Solving that requires to make a set of communication rules the protocol needs to follow in order to process all transactions in a generalised fashion.
 
And this is where the downsides of state sharding comes in currently. All shards in Zilliqa have access to the complete state. Yes the state size (0.1 GB at the moment) grows and all of the nodes need to store it but it also means that they don’t need to shop around for information available on other shards. Requiring more communication and adding more complexity. Computer science knowledge and/or developer knowledge required links if you want to dig further: Scilla - language grammar Scilla - Foundations for Verifiable Decentralised Computations on a Blockchain Gas Accounting NUS x Zilliqa: Smart contract language workshop
 
Easier to follow links on programming Scilla https://learnscilla.com/home Ivan on Tech
 
Roadmap / Zilliqa 2.0
 
There is no strict defined roadmap but here are topics being worked on. And via the Zilliqa website there is also more information on the projects they are working on.
 
Business & Partnerships
 
It’s not only technology in which Zilliqa seems to be excelling as their ecosystem has been expanding and starting to grow rapidly. The project is on a mission to provide OpenFinance (OpFi) to the world and Singapore is the right place to be due to its progressive regulations and futuristic thinking. Singapore has taken a proactive approach towards cryptocurrencies by introducing the Payment Services Act 2019 (PS Act). Among other things, the PS Act will regulate intermediaries dealing with certain cryptocurrencies, with a particular focus on consumer protection and anti-money laundering. It will also provide a stable regulatory licensing and operating framework for cryptocurrency entities, effectively covering all crypto businesses and exchanges based in Singapore. According to PWC 82% of the surveyed executives in Singapore reported blockchain initiatives underway and 13% of them have already brought the initiatives live to the market. There is also an increasing list of organizations that are starting to provide digital payment services. Moreover, Singaporean blockchain developers Building Cities Beyond has recently created an innovation $15 million grant to encourage development on its ecosystem. This all suggests that Singapore tries to position itself as (one of) the leading blockchain hubs in the world.
 
Zilliqa seems to already take advantage of this and recently helped launch Hg Exchange on their platform, together with financial institutions PhillipCapital, PrimePartners and Fundnel. Hg Exchange, which is now approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), uses smart contracts to represent digital assets. Through Hg Exchange financial institutions worldwide can use Zilliqa's safe-by-design smart contracts to enable the trading of private equities. For example, think of companies such as Grab, Airbnb, SpaceX that are not available for public trading right now. Hg Exchange will allow investors to buy shares of private companies & unicorns and capture their value before an IPO. Anquan, the main company behind Zilliqa, has also recently announced that they became a partner and shareholder in TEN31 Bank, which is a fully regulated bank allowing for tokenization of assets and is aiming to bridge the gap between conventional banking and the blockchain world. If STOs, the tokenization of assets, and equity trading will continue to increase, then Zilliqa’s public blockchain would be the ideal candidate due to its strategic positioning, partnerships, regulatory compliance and the technology that is being built on top of it.
 
What is also very encouraging is their focus on banking the un(der)banked. They are launching a stablecoin basket starting with XSGD. As many of you know, stablecoins are currently mostly used for trading. However, Zilliqa is actively trying to broaden the use case of stablecoins. I recommend everybody to read this text that Amrit Kumar wrote (one of the co-founders). These stablecoins will be integrated in the traditional markets and bridge the gap between the crypto world and the traditional world. This could potentially revolutionize and legitimise the crypto space if retailers and companies will for example start to use stablecoins for payments or remittances, instead of it solely being used for trading.
 
Zilliqa also released their DeFi strategic roadmap (dating November 2019) which seems to be aligning well with their OpFi strategy. A non-custodial DEX is coming to Zilliqa made by Switcheo which allows cross-chain trading (atomic swaps) between ETH, EOS and ZIL based tokens. They also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a (soon to be announced) USD stablecoin. And as Zilliqa is all about regulations and being compliant, I’m speculating on it to be a regulated USD stablecoin. Furthermore, XSGD is already created and visible on block explorer and XIDR (Indonesian Stablecoin) is also coming soon via StraitsX. Here also an overview of the Tech Stack for Financial Applications from September 2019. Further quoting Amrit Kumar on this:
 
There are two basic building blocks in DeFi/OpFi though: 1) stablecoins as you need a non-volatile currency to get access to this market and 2) a dex to be able to trade all these financial assets. The rest are built on top of these blocks.
 
So far, together with our partners and community, we have worked on developing these building blocks with XSGD as a stablecoin. We are working on bringing a USD-backed stablecoin as well. We will soon have a decentralised exchange developed by Switcheo. And with HGX going live, we are also venturing into the tokenization space. More to come in the future.”
 
Additionally, they also have this ZILHive initiative that injects capital into projects. There have been already 6 waves of various teams working on infrastructure, innovation and research, and they are not from ASEAN or Singapore only but global: see Grantees breakdown by country. Over 60 project teams from over 20 countries have contributed to Zilliqa's ecosystem. This includes individuals and teams developing wallets, explorers, developer toolkits, smart contract testing frameworks, dapps, etc. As some of you may know, Unstoppable Domains (UD) blew up when they launched on Zilliqa. UD aims to replace cryptocurrency addresses with a human-readable name and allows for uncensorable websites. Zilliqa will probably be the only one able to handle all these transactions onchain due to ability to scale and its resulting low fees which is why the UD team launched this on Zilliqa in the first place. Furthermore, Zilliqa also has a strong emphasis on security, compliance, and privacy, which is why they partnered with companies like Elliptic, ChainSecurity (part of PwC Switzerland), and Incognito. Their sister company Aqilliz (Zilliqa spelled backwards) focuses on revolutionizing the digital advertising space and is doing interesting things like using Zilliqa to track outdoor digital ads with companies like Foodpanda.
 
Zilliqa is listed on nearly all major exchanges, having several different fiat-gateways and recently have been added to Binance’s margin trading and futures trading with really good volume. They also have a very impressive team with good credentials and experience. They don't just have “tech people”. They have a mix of tech people, business people, marketeers, scientists, and more. Naturally, it's good to have a mix of people with different skill sets if you work in the crypto space.
 
Marketing & Community
 
Zilliqa has a very strong community. If you just follow their Twitter their engagement is much higher for a coin that has approximately 80k followers. They also have been ‘coin of the day’ by LunarCrush many times. LunarCrush tracks real-time cryptocurrency value and social data. According to their data, it seems Zilliqa has a more fundamental and deeper understanding of marketing and community engagement than almost all other coins. While almost all coins have been a bit frozen in the last months, Zilliqa seems to be on its own bull run. It was somewhere in the 100s a few months ago and is currently ranked #46 on CoinGecko. Their official Telegram also has over 20k people and is very active, and their community channel which is over 7k now is more active and larger than many other official channels. Their local communities also seem to be growing.
 
Moreover, their community started ‘Zillacracy’ together with the Zilliqa core team ( see www.zillacracy.com ). It’s a community-run initiative where people from all over the world are now helping with marketing and development on Zilliqa. Since its launch in February 2020 they have been doing a lot and will also run their own non-custodial seed node for staking. This seed node will also allow them to start generating revenue for them to become a self sustaining entity that could potentially scale up to become a decentralized company working in parallel with the Zilliqa core team. Comparing it to all the other smart contract platforms (e.g. Cardano, EOS, Tezos etc.) they don't seem to have started a similar initiative (correct me if I’m wrong though). This suggests in my opinion that these other smart contract platforms do not fully understand how to utilize the ‘power of the community’. This is something you cannot ‘buy with money’ and gives many projects in the space a disadvantage.
 
Zilliqa also released two social products called SocialPay and Zeeves. SocialPay allows users to earn ZILs while tweeting with a specific hashtag. They have recently used it in partnership with the Singapore Red Cross for a marketing campaign after their initial pilot program. It seems like a very valuable social product with a good use case. I can see a lot of traditional companies entering the space through this product, which they seem to suggest will happen. Tokenizing hashtags with smart contracts to get network effect is a very smart and innovative idea.
 
Regarding Zeeves, this is a tipping bot for Telegram. They already have 1000s of signups and they plan to keep upgrading it for more and more people to use it (e.g. they recently have added a quiz features). They also use it during AMAs to reward people in real-time. It’s a very smart approach to grow their communities and get familiar with ZIL. I can see this becoming very big on Telegram. This tool suggests, again, that the Zilliqa team has a deeper understanding of what the crypto space and community needs and is good at finding the right innovative tools to grow and scale.
 
To be honest, I haven’t covered everything (i’m also reaching the character limited haha). So many updates happening lately that it's hard to keep up, such as the International Monetary Fund mentioning Zilliqa in their report, custodial and non-custodial Staking, Binance Margin, Futures, Widget, entering the Indian market, and more. The Head of Marketing Colin Miles has also released this as an overview of what is coming next. And last but not least, Vitalik Buterin has been mentioning Zilliqa lately acknowledging Zilliqa and mentioning that both projects have a lot of room to grow. There is much more info of course and a good part of it has been served to you on a silver platter. I invite you to continue researching by yourself :-) And if you have any comments or questions please post here!
submitted by haveyouheardaboutit to CryptoCurrency [link] [comments]

Scaling Reddit Community Points with Arbitrum Rollup: a piece of cake

Scaling Reddit Community Points with Arbitrum Rollup: a piece of cake
https://preview.redd.it/b80c05tnb9e51.jpg?width=2550&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=850282c1a3962466ed44f73886dae1c8872d0f31
Submitted for consideration to The Great Reddit Scaling Bake-Off
Baked by the pastry chefs at Offchain Labs
Please send questions or comments to [[email protected] ](mailto:[email protected])
1. Overview
We're excited to submit Arbitrum Rollup for consideration to The Great Reddit Scaling Bake-Off. Arbitrum Rollup is the only Ethereum scaling solution that supports arbitrary smart contracts without compromising on Ethereum's security or adding points of centralization. For Reddit, this means that Arbitrum can not only scale the minting and transfer of Community Points, but it can foster a creative ecosystem built around Reddit Community Points enabling points to be used in a wide variety of third party applications. That's right -- you can have your cake and eat it too!
Arbitrum Rollup isn't just Ethereum-style. Its Layer 2 transactions are byte-for-byte identical to Ethereum, which means Ethereum users can continue to use their existing addresses and wallets, and Ethereum developers can continue to use their favorite toolchains and development environments out-of-the-box with Arbitrum. Coupling Arbitrum’s tooling-compatibility with its trustless asset interoperability, Reddit not only can scale but can onboard the entire Ethereum community at no cost by giving them the same experience they already know and love (well, certainly know).
To benchmark how Arbitrum can scale Reddit Community Points, we launched the Reddit contracts on an Arbitrum Rollup chain. Since Arbitrum provides full Solidity support, we didn't have to rewrite the Reddit contracts or try to mimic their functionality using an unfamiliar paradigm. Nope, none of that. We launched the Reddit contracts unmodified on Arbitrum Rollup complete with support for minting and distributing points. Like every Arbitrum Rollup chain, the chain included a bridge interface in which users can transfer Community Points or any other asset between the L1 and L2 chains. Arbitrum Rollup chains also support dynamic contract loading, which would allow third-party developers to launch custom ecosystem apps that integrate with Community Points on the very same chain that runs the Reddit contracts.
1.1 Why Ethereum
Perhaps the most exciting benefit of distributing Community Points using a blockchain is the ability to seamlessly port points to other applications and use them in a wide variety of contexts. Applications may include simple transfers such as a restaurant that allows Redditors to spend points on drinks. Or it may include complex smart contracts -- such as placing Community Points as a wager for a multiparty game or as collateral in a financial contract.
The common denominator between all of the fun uses of Reddit points is that it needs a thriving ecosystem of both users and developers, and the Ethereum blockchain is perhaps the only smart contract platform with significant adoption today. While many Layer 1 blockchains boast lower cost or higher throughput than the Ethereum blockchain, more often than not, these attributes mask the reality of little usage, weaker security, or both.
Perhaps another platform with significant usage will rise in the future. But today, Ethereum captures the mindshare of the blockchain community, and for Community Points to provide the most utility, the Ethereum blockchain is the natural choice.
1.2 Why Arbitrum
While Ethereum's ecosystem is unmatched, the reality is that fees are high and capacity is too low to support the scale of Reddit Community Points. Enter Arbitrum. Arbitrum Rollup provides all of the ecosystem benefits of Ethereum, but with orders of magnitude more capacity and at a fraction of the cost of native Ethereum smart contracts. And most of all, we don't change the experience from users. They continue to use the same wallets, addresses, languages, and tools.
Arbitrum Rollup is not the only solution that can scale payments, but it is the only developed solution that can scale both payments and arbitrary smart contracts trustlessly, which means that third party users can build highly scalable add-on apps that can be used without withdrawing money from the Rollup chain. If you believe that Reddit users will want to use their Community Points in smart contracts--and we believe they will--then it makes the most sense to choose a single scaling solution that can support the entire ecosystem, eliminating friction for users.
We view being able to run smart contracts in the same scaling solution as fundamentally critical since if there's significant demand in running smart contracts from Reddit's ecosystem, this would be a load on Ethereum and would itself require a scaling solution. Moreover, having different scaling solutions for the minting/distribution/spending of points and for third party apps would be burdensome for users as they'd have to constantly shuffle their Points back and forth.
2. Arbitrum at a glance
Arbitrum Rollup has a unique value proposition as it offers a combination of features that no other scaling solution achieves. Here we highlight its core attributes.
Decentralized. Arbitrum Rollup is as decentralized as Ethereum. Unlike some other Layer 2 scaling projects, Arbitrum Rollup doesn't have any centralized components or centralized operators who can censor users or delay transactions. Even in non-custodial systems, centralized components provide a risk as the operators are generally incentivized to increase their profit by extracting rent from users often in ways that severely degrade user experience. Even if centralized operators are altruistic, centralized components are subject to hacking, coercion, and potential liability.
Massive Scaling. Arbitrum achieves order of magnitude scaling over Ethereum's L1 smart contracts. Our software currently supports 453 transactions-per-second for basic transactions (at 1616 Ethereum gas per tx). We have a lot of room left to optimize (e.g. aggregating signatures), and over the next several months capacity will increase significantly. As described in detail below, Arbitrum can easily support and surpass Reddit's anticipated initial load, and its capacity will continue to improve as Reddit's capacity needs grow.
Low cost. The cost of running Arbitrum Rollup is quite low compared to L1 Ethereum and other scaling solutions such as those based on zero-knowledge proofs. Layer 2 fees are low, fixed, and predictable and should not be overly burdensome for Reddit to cover. Nobody needs to use special equipment or high-end machines. Arbitrum requires validators, which is a permissionless role that can be run on any reasonable on-line machine. Although anybody can act as a validator, in order to protect against a “tragedy of the commons” and make sure reputable validators are participating, we support a notion of “invited validators” that are compensated for their costs. In general, users pay (low) fees to cover the invited validators’ costs, but we imagine that Reddit may cover this cost for its users. See more on the costs and validator options below.
Ethereum Developer Experience. Not only does Arbitrum support EVM smart contracts, but the developer experience is identical to that of L1 Ethereum contracts and fully compatible with Ethereum tooling. Developers can port existing Solidity apps or write new ones using their favorite and familiar toolchains (e.g. Truffle, Buidler). There are no new languages or coding paradigms to learn.
Ethereum wallet compatibility. Just as in Ethereum, Arbitrum users need only hold keys, but do not have to store any coin history or additional data to protect or access their funds. Since Arbitrum transactions are semantically identical to Ethereum L1 transactions, existing Ethereum users can use their existing Ethereum keys with their existing wallet software such as Metamask.
Token interoperability. Users can easily transfer their ETH, ERC-20 and ERC-721 tokens between Ethereum and the Arbitrum Rollup chain. As we explain in detail below, it is possible to mint tokens in L2 that can subsequently be withdrawn and recognized by the L1 token contract.
Fast finality. Transactions complete with the same finality time as Ethereum L1 (and it's possible to get faster finality guarantees by trading away trust assumptions; see the Arbitrum Rollup whitepaper for details).
Non-custodial. Arbitrum Rollup is a non-custodial scaling solution, so users control their funds/points and neither Reddit nor anyone else can ever access or revoke points held by users.
Censorship Resistant. Since it's completely decentralized, and the Arbitrum protocol guarantees progress trustlessly, Arbitrum Rollup is just as censorship-proof as Ethereum.
Block explorer. The Arbitrum Rollup block explorer allows users to view and analyze transactions on the Rollup chain.
Limitations
Although this is a bake-off, we're not going to sugar coat anything. Arbitrum Rollup, like any Optimistic Rollup protocol, does have one limitation, and that's the delay on withdrawals.
As for the concrete length of the delay, we've done a good deal of internal modeling and have blogged about this as well. Our current modeling suggests a 3-hour delay is sufficient (but as discussed in the linked post there is a tradeoff space between the length of the challenge period and the size of the validators’ deposit).
Note that this doesn't mean that the chain is delayed for three hours. Arbitrum Rollup supports pipelining of execution, which means that validators can keep building new states even while previous ones are “in the pipeline” for confirmation. As the challenge delays expire for each update, a new state will be confirmed (read more about this here).
So activity and progress on the chain are not delayed by the challenge period. The only thing that's delayed is the consummation of withdrawals. Recall though that any single honest validator knows immediately (at the speed of L1 finality) which state updates are correct and can guarantee that they will eventually be confirmed, so once a valid withdrawal has been requested on-chain, every honest party knows that the withdrawal will definitely happen. There's a natural place here for a liquidity market in which a validator (or someone who trusts a validator) can provide withdrawal loans for a small interest fee. This is a no-risk business for them as they know which withdrawals will be confirmed (and can force their confirmation trustlessly no matter what anyone else does) but are just waiting for on-chain finality.
3. The recipe: How Arbitrum Rollup works
For a description of the technical components of Arbitrum Rollup and how they interact to create a highly scalable protocol with a developer experience that is identical to Ethereum, please refer to the following documents:
Arbitrum Rollup Whitepaper
Arbitrum academic paper (describes a previous version of Arbitrum)
4. Developer docs and APIs
For full details about how to set up and interact with an Arbitrum Rollup chain or validator, please refer to our developer docs, which can be found at https://developer.offchainlabs.com/.
Note that the Arbitrum version described on that site is older and will soon be replaced by the version we are entering in Reddit Bake-Off, which is still undergoing internal testing before public release.
5. Who are the validators?
As with any Layer 2 protocol, advancing the protocol correctly requires at least one validator (sometimes called block producers) that is honest and available. A natural question is: who are the validators?
Recall that the validator set for an Arbitrum chain is open and permissionless; anyone can start or stop validating at will. (A useful analogy is to full nodes on an L1 chain.) But we understand that even though anyone can participate, Reddit may want to guarantee that highly reputable nodes are validating their chain. Reddit may choose to validate the chain themselves and/or hire third-party validators.To this end, we have begun building a marketplace for validator-for-hire services so that dapp developers can outsource validation services to reputable nodes with high up-time. We've announced a partnership in which Chainlink nodes will provide Arbitrum validation services, and we expect to announce more partnerships shortly with other blockchain infrastructure providers.
Although there is no requirement that validators are paid, Arbitrum’s economic model tracks validators’ costs (e.g. amount of computation and storage) and can charge small fees on user transactions, using a gas-type system, to cover those costs. Alternatively, a single party such as Reddit can agree to cover the costs of invited validators.
6. Reddit Contract Support
Since Arbitrum contracts and transactions are byte-for-byte compatible with Ethereum, supporting the Reddit contracts is as simple as launching them on an Arbitrum chain.
Minting. Arbitrum Rollup supports hybrid L1/L2 tokens which can be minted in L2 and then withdrawn onto the L1. An L1 contract at address A can make a special call to the EthBridge which deploys a "buddy contract" to the same address A on an Arbitrum chain. Since it's deployed at the same address, users can know that the L2 contract is the authorized "buddy" of the L1 contract on the Arbitrum chain.
For minting, the L1 contract is a standard ERC-20 contract which mints and burns tokens when requested by the L2 contract. It is paired with an ERC-20 contract in L2 which mints tokens based on whatever programmer provided minting facility is desired and burns tokens when they are withdrawn from the rollup chain. Given this base infrastructure, Arbitrum can support any smart contract based method for minting tokens in L2, and indeed we directly support Reddit's signature/claim based minting in L2.
Batch minting. What's better than a mint cookie? A whole batch! In addition to supporting Reddit’s current minting/claiming scheme, we built a second minting design, which we believe outperforms the signature/claim system in many scenarios.
In the current system, Reddit periodically issues signed statements to users, who then take those statements to the blockchain to claim their tokens. An alternative approach would have Reddit directly submit the list of users/amounts to the blockchain and distribute the tokens to the users without the signature/claim process.
To optimize the cost efficiency of this approach, we designed an application-specific compression scheme to minimize the size of the batch distribution list. We analyzed the data from Reddit's previous distributions and found that the data is highly compressible since token amounts are small and repeated, and addresses appear multiple times. Our function groups transactions by size, and replaces previously-seen addresses with a shorter index value. We wrote client code to compress the data, wrote a Solidity decompressing function, and integrated that function into Reddit’s contract running on Arbitrum.
When we ran the compression function on the previous Reddit distribution data, we found that we could compress batched minting data down to to 11.8 bytes per minting event (averaged over a 6-month trace of Reddit’s historical token grants)compared with roughly 174 bytes of on-chain data needed for the signature claim approach to minting (roughly 43 for an RLP-encoded null transaction + 65 for Reddit's signature + 65 for the user's signature + roughly 8 for the number of Points) .
The relative benefit of the two approaches with respect to on-chain call data cost depends on the percentage of users that will actually claim their tokens on chain. With the above figures, batch minting will be cheaper if roughly 5% of users redeem their claims. We stress that our compression scheme is not Arbitrum-specific and would be beneficial in any general-purpose smart contract platform.
8. Benchmarks and costs
In this section, we give the full costs of operating the Reddit contracts on an Arbitrum Rollup chain including the L1 gas costs for the Rollup chain, the costs of computation and storage for the L2 validators as well as the capital lockup requirements for staking.
Arbitrum Rollup is still on testnet, so we did not run mainnet benchmarks. Instead, we measured the L1 gas cost and L2 workload for Reddit operations on Arbitrum and calculated the total cost assuming current Ethereum gas prices. As noted below in detail, our measurements do not assume that Arbitrum is consuming the entire capacity of Ethereum. We will present the details of our model now, but for full transparency you can also play around with it yourself and adjust the parameters, by copying the spreadsheet found here.
Our cost model is based on measurements of Reddit’s contracts, running unmodified (except for the addition of a batch minting function) on Arbitrum Rollup on top of Ethereum.
On the distribution of transactions and frequency of assertions. Reddit's instructions specify the following minimum parameters that submissions should support:
Over a 5 day period, your scaling PoC should be able to handle:
  • 100,000 point claims (minting & distributing points)
  • 25,000 subscriptions
  • 75,000 one-off points burning
  • 100,000 transfers
We provide the full costs of operating an Arbitrum Rollup chain with this usage under the assumption that tokens are minted or granted to users in batches, but other transactions are uniformly distributed over the 5 day period. Unlike some other submissions, we do not make unrealistic assumptions that all operations can be submitted in enormous batches. We assume that batch minting is done in batches that use only a few percent on an L1 block’s gas, and that other operations come in evenly over time and are submitted in batches, with one batch every five minutes to keep latency reasonable. (Users are probably already waiting for L1 finality, which takes at least that long to achieve.)
We note that assuming that there are only 300,000 transactions that arrive uniformly over the 5 day period will make our benchmark numbers lower, but we believe that this will reflect the true cost of running the system. To see why, say that batches are submitted every five minutes (20 L1 blocks) and there's a fixed overhead of c bytes of calldata per batch, the cost of which will get amortized over all transactions executed in that batch. Assume that each individual transaction adds a marginal cost of t. Lastly assume the capacity of the scaling system is high enough that it can support all of Reddit's 300,000 transactions within a single 20-block batch (i.e. that there is more than c + 300,000*t byes of calldata available in 20 blocks).
Consider what happens if c, the per-batch overhead, is large (which it is in some systems, but not in Arbitrum). In the scenario that transactions actually arrive at the system's capacity and each batch is full, then c gets amortized over 300,000 transactions. But if we assume that the system is not running at capacity--and only receives 300,000 transactions arriving uniformly over 5 days-- then each 20-block assertion will contain about 200 transactions, and thus each transaction will pay a nontrivial cost due to c.
We are aware that other proposals presented scaling numbers assuming that 300,000 transactions arrived at maximum capacity and was executed in a single mega-transaction, but according to our estimates, for at least one such report, this led to a reported gas price that was 2-3 orders of magnitude lower than it would have been assuming uniform arrival. We make more realistic batching assumptions, and we believe Arbitrum compares well when batch sizes are realistic.
Our model. Our cost model includes several sources of cost:
  • L1 gas costs: This is the cost of posting transactions as calldata on the L1 chain, as well as the overhead associated with each batch of transactions, and the L1 cost of settling transactions in the Arbitrum protocol.
  • Validator’s staking costs: In normal operation, one validator will need to be staked. The stake is assumed to be 0.2% of the total value of the chain (which is assumed to be $1 per user who is eligible to claim points). The cost of staking is the interest that could be earned on the money if it were not staked.
  • Validator computation and storage: Every validator must do computation to track the chain’s processing of transactions, and must maintain storage to keep track of the contracts’ EVM storage. The cost of computation and storage are estimated based on measurements, with the dollar cost of resources based on Amazon Web Services pricing.
It’s clear from our modeling that the predominant cost is for L1 calldata. This will probably be true for any plausible rollup-based system.
Our model also shows that Arbitrum can scale to workloads much larger than Reddit’s nominal workload, without exhausting L1 or L2 resources. The scaling bottleneck will ultimately be calldata on the L1 chain. We believe that cost could be reduced substantially if necessary by clever encoding of data. (In our design any compression / decompression of L2 transaction calldata would be done by client software and L2 programs, never by an L1 contract.)
9. Status of Arbitrum Rollup
Arbitrum Rollup is live on Ethereum testnet. All of the code written to date including everything included in the Reddit demo is open source and permissively licensed under the Apache V2 license. The first testnet version of Arbitrum Rollup was released on testnet in February. Our current internal version, which we used to benchmark the Reddit contracts, will be released soon and will be a major upgrade.
Both the Arbitrum design as well as the implementation are heavily audited by independent third parties. The Arbitrum academic paper was published at USENIX Security, a top-tier peer-reviewed academic venue. For the Arbitrum software, we have engaged Trail of Bits for a security audit, which is currently ongoing, and we are committed to have a clean report before launching on Ethereum mainnet.
10. Reddit Universe Arbitrum Rollup Chain
The benchmarks described in this document were all measured using the latest internal build of our software. When we release the new software upgrade publicly we will launch a Reddit Universe Arbitrum Rollup chain as a public demo, which will contain the Reddit contracts as well as a Uniswap instance and a Connext Hub, demonstrating how Community Points can be integrated into third party apps. We will also allow members of the public to dynamically launch ecosystem contracts. We at Offchain Labs will cover the validating costs for the Reddit Universe public demo.
If the folks at Reddit would like to evaluate our software prior to our public demo, please email us at [email protected] and we'd be more than happy to provide early access.
11. Even more scaling: Arbitrum Sidechains
Rollups are an excellent approach to scaling, and we are excited about Arbitrum Rollup which far surpasses Reddit's scaling needs. But looking forward to Reddit's eventual goal of supporting hundreds of millions of users, there will likely come a time when Reddit needs more scaling than any Rollup protocol can provide.
While Rollups greatly reduce costs, they don't break the linear barrier. That is, all transactions have an on-chain footprint (because all calldata must be posted on-chain), albeit a far smaller one than on native Ethereum, and the L1 limitations end up being the bottleneck for capacity and cost. Since Ethereum has limited capacity, this linear use of on-chain resources means that costs will eventually increase superlinearly with traffic.
The good news is that we at Offchain Labs have a solution in our roadmap that can satisfy this extreme-scaling setting as well: Arbitrum AnyTrust Sidechains. Arbitrum Sidechains are similar to Arbitrum Rollup, but deviate in that they name a permissioned set of validators. When a chain’s validators agree off-chain, they can greatly reduce the on-chain footprint of the protocol and require almost no data to be put on-chain. When validators can't reach unanimous agreement off-chain, the protocol reverts to Arbitrum Rollup. Technically, Arbitrum Sidechains can be viewed as a hybrid between state channels and Rollup, switching back and forth as necessary, and combining the performance and cost that state channels can achieve in the optimistic case, with the robustness of Rollup in other cases. The core technical challenge is how to switch seamlessly between modes and how to guarantee that security is maintained throughout.
Arbitrum Sidechains break through this linear barrier, while still maintaining a high level of security and decentralization. Arbitrum Sidechains provide the AnyTrust guarantee, which says that as long as any one validator is honest and available (even if you don't know which one will be), the L2 chain is guaranteed to execute correctly according to its code and guaranteed to make progress. Unlike in a state channel, offchain progress does not require unanimous consent, and liveness is preserved as long as there is a single honest validator.
Note that the trust model for Arbitrum Sidechains is much stronger than for typical BFT-style chains which introduce a consensus "voting" protocols among a small permissioned group of validators. BFT-based protocols require a supermajority (more than 2/3) of validators to agree. In Arbitrum Sidechains, by contrast, all you need is a single honest validator to achieve guaranteed correctness and progress. Notice that in Arbitrum adding validators strictly increases security since the AnyTrust guarantee provides correctness as long as any one validator is honest and available. By contrast, in BFT-style protocols, adding nodes can be dangerous as a coalition of dishonest nodes can break the protocol.
Like Arbitrum Rollup, the developer and user experiences for Arbitrum Sidechains will be identical to that of Ethereum. Reddit would be able to choose a large and diverse set of validators, and all that they would need to guarantee to break through the scaling barrier is that a single one of them will remain honest.
We hope to have Arbitrum Sidechains in production in early 2021, and thus when Reddit reaches the scale that surpasses the capacity of Rollups, Arbitrum Sidechains will be waiting and ready to help.
While the idea to switch between channels and Rollup to get the best of both worlds is conceptually simple, getting the details right and making sure that the switch does not introduce any attack vectors is highly non-trivial and has been the subject of years of our research (indeed, we were working on this design for years before the term Rollup was even coined).
12. How Arbitrum compares
We include a comparison to several other categories as well as specific projects when appropriate. and explain why we believe that Arbitrum is best suited for Reddit's purposes. We focus our attention on other Ethereum projects.
Payment only Rollups. Compared to Arbitrum Rollup, ZK-Rollups and other Rollups that only support token transfers have several disadvantages:
  • As outlined throughout the proposal, we believe that the entire draw of Ethereum is in its rich smart contracts support which is simply not achievable with today's zero-knowledge proof technology. Indeed, scaling with a ZK-Rollup will add friction to the deployment of smart contracts that interact with Community Points as users will have to withdraw their coins from the ZK-Rollup and transfer them to a smart contract system (like Arbitrum). The community will be best served if Reddit builds on a platform that has built-in, frictionless smart-contract support.
  • All other Rollup protocols of which we are aware employ a centralized operator. While it's true that users retain custody of their coins, the centralized operator can often profit from censoring, reordering, or delaying transactions. A common misconception is that since they're non-custodial protocols, a centralized sequencer does not pose a risk but this is incorrect as the sequencer can wreak havoc or shake down users for side payments without directly stealing funds.
  • Sidechain type protocols can eliminate some of these issues, but they are not trustless. Instead, they require trust in some quorum of a committee, often requiring two-third of the committee to be honest, compared to rollup protocols like Arbitrum that require only a single honest party. In addition, not all sidechain type protocols have committees that are diverse, or even non-centralized, in practice.
  • Plasma-style protocols have a centralized operator and do not support general smart contracts.
13. Concluding Remarks
While it's ultimately up to the judges’ palate, we believe that Arbitrum Rollup is the bakeoff choice that Reddit kneads. We far surpass Reddit's specified workload requirement at present, have much room to optimize Arbitrum Rollup in the near term, and have a clear path to get Reddit to hundreds of millions of users. Furthermore, we are the only project that gives developers and users the identical interface as the Ethereum blockchain and is fully interoperable and tooling-compatible, and we do this all without any new trust assumptions or centralized components.
But no matter how the cookie crumbles, we're glad to have participated in this bake-off and we thank you for your consideration.
About Offchain Labs
Offchain Labs, Inc. is a venture-funded New York company that spun out of Princeton University research, and is building the Arbitrum platform to usher in the next generation of scalable, interoperable, and compatible smart contracts. Offchain Labs is backed by Pantera Capital, Compound VC, Coinbase Ventures, and others.
Leadership Team
Ed Felten
Ed Felten is Co-founder and Chief Scientist at Offchain Labs. He is on leave from Princeton University, where he is the Robert E. Kahn Professor of Computer Science and Public Affairs. From 2015 to 2017 he served at the White House as Deputy United States Chief Technology Officer and senior advisor to the President. He is an ACM Fellow and member of the National Academy of Engineering. Outside of work, he is an avid runner, cook, and L.A. Dodgers fan.
Steven Goldfeder
Steven Goldfeder is Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer at Offchain Labs. He holds a PhD from Princeton University, where he worked at the intersection of cryptography and cryptocurrencies including threshold cryptography, zero-knowledge proof systems, and post-quantum signatures. He is a co-author of Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies, the leading textbook on cryptocurrencies, and he has previously worked at Google and Microsoft Research, where he co-invented the Picnic signature algorithm. When not working, you can find Steven spending time with his family, taking a nature walk, or twisting balloons.
Harry Kalodner
Harry Kalodner is Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Offchain Labs where he leads the engineering team. Before the company he attended Princeton as a Ph.D candidate where his research explored economics, anonymity, and incentive compatibility of cryptocurrencies, and he also has worked at Apple. When not up at 3:00am writing code, Harry occasionally sleeps.
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Update and Few Thoughts, a (Well-Typed) transcript: Liza&Charles the marketeers, Voltaire kick-off, PrisM and Ebb-and-Flow to fuck ETH2.0 Gasper, the (back)log of a man and a falcon, lots of companies, September Goguen time, Basho, 2021 Titans, Basho, Hydra and much more thoughts and prayers

Hi everybody this is Charles Hoskinson broadcasting live from warm sunny Colorado. I'm trying a new streaming service and it allows me to annotate a few things and simulcast to both periscope and youtube. Let's see how this works. I also get to put a little caption. I think for the future, I'm just for a while going to put: "I will never give away ada". So, when people repost my videos for giveaway scams they at least have that. First off, a thank you, a community member named Daryl had decided to carve a log and give his artistic impression of my twitter profile picture of me and the falcon so that always means a lot when I get these gifts from fans and also I just wanted to, on the back of the Catalyst presentation, express my profound gratitude and excitement to the community.
You know it's really really cool to see how much progress has been made in such a short period of time. It was only yesterday when we were saying "when Shelley"? Now Shelley's out and it's evolving rapidly. Voltaire is now starting to evolve rapidly and we're real close to Goguen. At the end of this month we'll be able to talk around some of the realities of Goguen and some of the ideas we have and give some dates for certain things and give you a sense of where that project is at. The good news is that we have gained an enormous amount of progress and knowledge about what we need to do and how to get that done and basically people are just executing and it's a much smaller task than getting us to Shelley. With Byron to Shelley we literally had to build a completely new cryptocurrency from the ground up. We had to have new ledger rules, new update system, we had to invent a way of transitioning from one system to another system and there's hundreds of other little innovations along the way: new network stack and so forth. Byron cosmetically looks like Shelley but under the hood it's completely different and the Shelley design was built with a lot of the things that we needed for Goguen in mind. For example, we built Shelley with the idea of extended UTXO and we built Shelley understanding what the realities were for the smart contract model and that's one of the advantages you get when you do this type of bespoke engineering. There's two consequences to that, one, the integration is significantly easier, and two, the integration is significantly faster. We won't look at that same complexity there.
The product update at the end of the month... We'll really start discussing around some of these things as well as talk about partners and talk about how the development ecosystem is going to evolve. There are a lot of threads throughout all three organizations that are happening simultaneously. Emurgo, they're really thinking deeply about DeFi and they've invited us to collaborate with them on things like stablecoins for example but we're also looking at oracles (oracle pools), DEX and these other things and because there are already people in market who have made mistakes, learned lessons, it gives us the benefit of hindsight. It means we can be much faster to market and we can build much more competitive things in market and the Cardano community gets first access to these next generation DeFi applications without a lot of the problems of the prior generations and that's super beneficial to us.
You know, the other side of it, is that Voltaire is going to have a systemic influence not just on community funding but also the overall evolution and direction of the platform. The longer it exists the more pervasive it will become. Probably first applied towards the Cardano foundation roadmap but later on it will definitely have a lot of influence and say over every element aspect of the system including the launch dApps and these other things. Basically, long term, the types of problems that Cardano solves so that's incredibly appealing to me and very exciting to me because it's like I have this giant community brain with the best and brightest of all of you working with us to get us where we need to go.
You know, another thing that was super encouraging, it's a small thing, but it shows us that we're definitely in the right direction was that we recently got a demo from Pramod (Viswanath) and his team out of university of Illinois on a protocol they create called PrisM which is a super fast proof-of-work protocol and they wrote this beautiful paper and they wrote code along with it that showed that PrisM is a ten thousand times faster than Nakamoto consensus. If you take the bitcoin proof-of-work protocol, you strip it out, you put PrisM in, you can run the entire bitcoin system 10000 times faster. They have these beautiful benchmarks to show that. Even in bad network conditions. (I'm) promoting this team, they're, they're real researchers, and they're real engineers, they use a lot of cool HPC concepts like springboarding and other things like that to accommodate that. Then I asked him in the presentation, I said well, how much faster if you replay the Ethereum chain? He says, well, that it takes a big performance hit, could be only maybe a hundred times because that model is not as easy to optimize and shard with standard computer science concepts. In fact in some cases there are limitations there that really can't be overcome. It turns out that we're more on that UTXO side than we are on the account side. As a coincidence or intent of the design of extended UTXO we're gonna have a lot easier time getting much higher performance where and when it's necessary.
I also approved this week a scaling up of the Basho project. In particular, to build a hydra prototype team. The science has gotten to a point where we can make a really competitive push in that particular direction. What does that mean? It means that in just a few short months we can de-risk technological approaches that long-term will give us a lot of fruit where and when the community decides that they need infrastructure like hydra. Now, here's the beautiful thing about hydra. If you watch my whiteboard back in September of 2017 when Cardano first hit market with Byron I talked about this concept of looking at scalability with a very simple test which is as you get more people in the system it stays at the same performance or it gets faster. We all experience systems that do this, for example, bittorrent, more people downloading something you tend to be able to get it faster and we all experience the converse which is, the system gets slower when you get more people. What does this mean? It means that hydra is an actual approach towards true scalability in the system and it's a lot easier to do than sharding even though we have a beautiful approach to get the sharding on the ledger side if we truly desire to go down that way. There's beautiful ideas that we are definitely in deep discussions about. That's a very complex thing. There was recently a paper ("Ebb-and-Flow Protocols: A Resolution of the Availability-Finality Dilemma") out of Stanford that showed that the Gasper protocol as proposed for ETH2.0 does have some security concerns and it's going to be the burden on the shoulders of the Ethereum 2.0 developers and Vitalik to address those concerns from those Stanford professors. Whenever you have these very complex protocols they have so many different ways they can break and things can go wrong so it's much more appealing when you don't have to embrace complexity to achieve the same. The elegance of hydra is that stake pool operators are very natural parties to put hydra channels on and every time we add one we get much more performance out of that and the system as it gets more valuable. The k factor increases which means you get more stake pull operators, which means you get more hydra channels, so with growth we get appreciation, with appreciation we get more decentralization, with more decentralization we get more performance. In essence, this spiritually speaking, is really what we meant when we said scalability. That the system will always grow to meet its particular needs and we have a very elegant way of moving in that direction that doesn't require us to embrace very sophisticated techniques. It's not to say that these techniques don't have a place and purpose but it says that the urgency of implementing these is gone and we then have the luxury to pick the best science when it's ready instead of rushing it to market to resolve a crisis of high fees. We'll never have that crisis so there's a beauty to Cardano that is missing, I in my view, from many cryptocurrencies and blockchains in the marketplace and we're now seeing that beauty shine through. Not only through our community who are so passionate and amazing but in the science and the engineering itself and how easy it is for us to navigate the concepts. How easy it is for us to add more things, to take some things away, to clean some things up here and there and our ability to move through.
I never imagined when in 2015 I signed up to go in on this crazy ride and try to build a world financial operating system we would have made as much progress as we made today. We've written more than 75 research papers as an organization many of which are directly applicable to Cardano. We've got great partners who work with Nasa and Boeing and Pfizer, massive companies, that have 10 years of history and millions of users to come in and help us grow better. We've worked with incredible organizations, major universities like university of Wyoming, university of Edinburgh, Tokyo, tech professors all across the world. We've worked with incredible engineering firms like VacuumLabs and AtixLabs and Twig and Well-Typed, runtime verification, QuviQ and dozens of others along the years and despite the fact that at times there's been delays and friction throughout this entire journey we've mostly been aligned and we keep learning and growing. It gives me so much hope that our best days are ahead of us and an almost fanatical belief that success is inevitable in a certain respect. You see because we always find a way to be here tomorrow and we always find a way to make tomorrow a better day than today and as long as that's the trend you're monotonically increasing towards a better tomorrow, you're always going to have that outcome, you're always going to be in a position where Cardano shines bright. Towards the end of the month we'll have a lot more to say about the development side and that'll be a beginning just like Voltaire is the beginning and then suddenly you now notice the beautiful parallelism of the roadmap. Shelley continues to evolve, partial delegation is coming, in fact, I signed the contract with vacuumlabs to bring that to Ledger (and Trezor). The Daedalus team is hard at work to make that feature apparent for everyone as is the Yoroi team.
You see that, with now Voltaire, and soon was Goguen, and these are not endpoints, rather they're just beginnings and they're never over. We can always make staking better, more diverse, more merit-based and entertain different control models, have better delegation mechanics, have better user experience. The same for smart contracts, that's an endless river and along the way what we've discovered is it's easy for us to work with great minds and great people. For example with testing of smart contracts I would love to diversify that conversation above and beyond what we can come up with and bring in some firms who have done this for a long time to basically take that part with us shoulder to shoulder and build beautiful frameworks to assist us. For example, runtime verification is doing this with, the EVM with a beautiful project called Firefly to replace Truffle. I believe that we can achieve similar ends with Plutus smart contracts.
When you ask yourself what makes a system competitive in the cryptocurrency space? In my view there are four dimensions and you have to have a good story for all four of those dimensions. You need security and correctness. A lot of people don't prioritize that but when they get that wrong it hurts retail people, it hurts everyday people, billions of dollars have been lost due to the incompetence and ineptitude of junior developers making very bad mistakes and oftentimes those developers faced no consequences. The people who lost money were innocent people who believed in cryptocurrencies and wanted to be part of the movement but didn't protect themselves adequately. That's a really sad thing and it's unethical to continue pushing a model that that is the standard or the likely outcome rather than a rare edge case. You have to as a platform, a third generation platformn invest heavily in giving the developers proper tools to ensure security and correctness. We've seen a whole industry there's been great innovations out of Quantstamp and ConsenSys and dozens of other firms in the space including runtime verification who have really made major leaps in the last few years of trying to improve that story. What's unique to Cardano is that we based our foundations on languages that were designed right the first time and there's over 35 years of history for the approach that we're following in the Haskell side that allows us to build high assurance systems and our developers in the ecosystem to build high assurance systems. We didn't reinvent the wheel, we found the best wheel and we're giving it to you.
I think we're going to be dominant in that respect as we enter 2021. Second, you look at things like ease of maintenance, ease of deployment, the life cycle of the software upgrades to the software and as we've demonstrated with things like the hard fork combinator and the fact that Voltaire is not just a governance layer for ada and Cardano but will eventually be reusable for any dApp deployed on our system. You have very natural tooling that's going to allow people to upgrade their smart contracts, their dApps and enable governance for their users at an incredibly low cost and not have to reinvent the governance wheel each and every application. This is another unique property to our system and it can be reused for the dApps that you deploy on your system as I've mentioned before. Performance is a significant concern and this was often corrupted by marketers especially ICO marketers who really wanted to differentiate (and) say: "our protocol tested on a single server in someone's basement is 500000 transactions per second" and somehow that translates to real life performance and that's antithetical to anyone who's ever to study distributed systems and understands the reality of these systems and where they go and what they do and in terms of performance. I think we have the most logical approach. You know, we have 10 years of history with bitcoin, it's a massive system, we've learned a huge amount and there's a lot of papers written about, a lot of practical projects and bitcoin is about to step into the world of smart contracts. We congratulate them on getting Schnorr sigs in and the success of Taproot. That means entering 2021, 2022, we are going to start seeing legitimate dApps DeFi projects, real applications, instead of choosing Ethereum or Algorand, EOS, Cardano, choosing bitcoin and they're adding a lot to that conversation. I think that ultimately that model has a lot of promise which is why we built a better one. There are still significant limitations with what bitcoin can accomplish from settlement time to the verbosity of contracts that can be written.
The extended UTXO model was designed to be the fastest accounting and most charitable accounting model ever, on and off chain, and hydra was designed to allow you to flex between those two systems seamlessly. When you look at the foundations of where we're at and how we can extend this from domain specific languages, for domain experts, such as Marlowe to financial experts, and the DSLs that will come later, for others, like lawyers and supply chain experts in medical databases and so forth and how easy it is to write and deploy these. Plutus being beautiful glue code for both on and off chain communications. I think we have an incredibly competitive offering for performance and when hydra comes, simply put, there'll be no one faster. If we need to shard, we're going to do that and definitely better than anybody else because we know where our security model sits and there won't be surprise Stanford papers to blindside us that require immediate addressing.
In terms of operating costs, this is the last component, in my view, and that's basically how much does it cost you the developer to run your application? There are really two dimensions, one is predictability and the other is amount. It's not just good enough to say: it's a penny per transaction today. You need to know that after you spend millions of dollars and months or years of effort building something and deploying something that you're not going to wake up tomorrow and now it's five dollars to do what used to cost a penny. You need that cost to be as low as possible and as predictable as possible and again the way that we architectured our system and as we turn things on towards the end of this year and as we enter into the next year we believe we have a great approach to achieve low operating cost. One person asks why Cardano? Well because we have great security and correctness in the development experience and tools with 35 years of legacy that were built right the first time and don't put the burdens of mistakes on your customers. They ask why Cardano and we say: well the chain itself is going to give you great solutions with identity value transformation and governance itself and as a consequence when you talk about upgrading your applications having a relationship with your customers of your applications and you talk about the ease of maintenance of those applications. There's going to be a good story there and we have beautiful frameworks like Voltaire that allow that story to evolve and we keep adding partners and who have decades of experience to get us along. We won't stop until it's much better. They asked why Cardano? We said because at the moment we're 10 times faster today than Ethereum today and that's all we really need for this year and next year to be honest and in the future we can be as fast as we need to be because we're truly scalable. As the system gets more decentralized the system improves performance and where and when we need to shard we can do that. We'll have the luxury of time to do it right, the Cardano way, and when people ask why Cardano? Because the reality is, it's very cheap to do things on our platform and the way we're building things. That's going to continue being the case and we have the governance mechanisms to allow the community to readjust fees and parameters so that it can continue being affordable for users. Everything in the system will eventually be customizable and parameterizable: from block size, to transaction fees and the community will be in a good position to dynamically allocate these things where and when needed so that we can enjoy as an ecosystem predictability in our cost.
In the coming weeks and months, especially in my company, we're going to invest a lot of time and effort into comparison marketing and product marketing. When I see people say, oh well, you've launched proof of stake, a lot of other people have done. I don't think those people fully appreciate the magnitude of what we actually accomplished as an ecosystem and the quality of the protocols that are in distribution. That's not their fault, it's our fault, because we didn't take the time in simplistic terms, not scientific papers and deep code and formal specifications, but rather everyday language, to really show why we're different. I admit that that's a product failing and that needs to be corrected so we hired a great marketing director, named Liza (Horowitz?) and she is going to work full time with me and others in the ecosystem, a great team of people, every single day to get out there and explain what we have done is novel, unique, competitive and special to our industry. Everything from Ouroboros and contrast to major other protocols from the EOSes and Algorands and the Tezos of the world. Why we're different, trade-offs we chose over them, to our network stack, to the extended UTXO model, to Plutus, to Marlowe and we're going to keep hammering away at that until we get it right and everybody acknowledges and sees what has been accomplished.
I've spent five years of my life, good years of my life, and missed a lot to get this project where it needs to go. All of our employees have invested huge sums of their personal lives, their time, their brand, their careers, in trying to make this the really most magical and special cryptocurrency and blockchain infrastructure around. No one ever signed up in this company or the other companies working on Cardano to work on a mediocre protocol. That's just another blockchain, they signed up to change the world, they signed up to build a system that legitimately can look at you in the face and say: one day we have the potential to have a billion users! That's what they signed up for and they showed up to play. They built technology that evolves in that direction with some certainty and great foundations and we have an obligation to market in a way that can show the world why, succinctly, with clarity. Understandably, this has been a failing in the past but you know what? You can always be better tomorrow that monotonically increasing make it better and that's what we're going to do. We recognized it and we're going to invest in it and with Voltaire if we can't do it. You the community can do it and we'll work with you. If you can do a better job and the funding will be there to get that done. In addition to this, we think about 2021 and we ask where does the future take us? I've thought a lot about this you know I've thought a lot about how do we get the next five years as we close out 2020 and here's the reality: we're not going to leave as a company until we have smart contracts and multi-asset and Voltaire has evolved to a point where the community can comfortably make decisions about the future of the protocol and that the staking experience has solidified and it's stable.
I don't care if this costs me millions or tens of millions of dollars out of my own pocket to make happen. I'm going to do that because that's my commitment to you, the community and every product update will keep pushing our way there. We'll continue to get more transparent, we'll continue to get more aggressive and hire more and parallelize more. Aware when we can, to deliver that experience so that Cardano gets where it needs to go. Then when we ask about where do we go next? The reality is that the science as an industry, the engineering as an industry has given a menu of incredibly unique attractive and sexy things that we can pursue. What we're going to do is work with the community and the very same tools that are turning on today, the Voltaire tools, the cardano.ideascale.com tools and we're going to propose a consortium and we're going to bring the best and brightest together and give a vision of where we can take the system in another five years. With the benefit of hindsight, massively improved processes, better estimation capabilities and the fact that we're not starting with two people at IOG. We're starting with 250 people and the best scientific division in our industry and the legacy of almost, nearly by the end of this year, 100 scientific papers. That's us, you know what, there's dozens of companies throughout the history who have worked on Cardano. It's about time to scale them up too and get client diversity. So come next year when the protocol has evolved to the point where it's ready for it, we'll have that conversation with you the community and that's going to be a beautiful conversation. At the conclusion of it, there's going to be certainty of how we're going to evolve over the next five years to get ourselves beyond the cryptocurrency space. I'm very tired of these conversations we have about: are you going to go to (coindesk's) consensus or not? Or who's going to be the big winner? What about Libra or what about this particular regulation and this crypto unicorn and this thing?
You know I've been in the space a long time and I've noticed that people keep saying the same things year after year in the same venues. Yes, the crowd sizes get larger and the amount of value at risk gets larger but I haven't seen a lot of progress in the places where I feel it is absolutely necessary for this technology to be permanent in the developing world. We need to see economic identity. People often ask what is the mission for Cardano? For us IOG, you look at economic identity and you take a look at a roadmap. For it, you scale up and down, and each and every step along the way, from open data, to self-sovereign identity, to financial inclusion. You can keep going down: to decentralized lending, decentralized insurance, decentralized banking. Each and every step along the way to economic identity. When you admit a blockchain tells you that, there's a collection of applications and infrastructure that you need to build.
My life's work is to get to a point where we have the technology to do that. The infrastructure to do that, with principles, and so we'll keep evolving Cardano and we'll keep evolving the space as a whole and the science as a whole until I can wake up and say: each box and that road to economic identity, for all people not just one group, we have a solution for that. I'm going to put those applications on Cardano and success for me is not about us being king of the crypto hill and having a higher market cap than bitcoin or being entrepreneur of the year coindesk's most influential person. It's meaningless noise, success for me is reflecting back at the things that we have accomplished together and recognizing that millions if not billions now live in a system where they all matter, they all have a voice, they all have an equal footing. The Jeff Bezos of the world have the very same experience as the person born in Rwanda and we're not done until that's the case. It's a long road, it's a hard road, but you know what? We're making progress, we have great people in Africa, we have great people in eastern Europe, we have great people in southeast Asia and great partners all along the way. Great people, Latin America, great people in south America, great people here in the United States.
When we talk about economic identity there are millions, if not tens of millions of Americans who don't have it. Same for Canadians, hundreds of thousands, who don't have it. Developed western cultures, it's the greatest blind spot of policy and as we enter into a depression as a result of coronavirus, add millions if not tens of millions more onto that list. Generations are being disenfranchised by this legacy system and we as an ecosystem, we as an entire community are offering a different way forward. Not hyper centralizationn not social credit but a way forward where you own your own money, your own identity, your own data. You're not a victim of surveillance capitalism, you're not a victim of civil asset forfeiture. When you say the wrong things, you get shut out of society. Each and every human being matters and I'm optimistic to believe that when you remind people that they matter they're gonna rise to the occasion. That is the point of my company. In the things that we do each and every day, that's our mission to give the platforms to the world so that those who don't have economic identity can get it and they can keep it and no one can take it from them and they can enjoy an ever increasing growth of standard of living wealth and prosperity.
However you want to measure that this is my goal post, I couldn't care less about the cryptocurrency space. It was a great place to start but the space needs to be reminded why it exists. Bitcoin was given a mandate on the back of the 2008 financial crisis to do something different. It was not given a mandate to go be a new settlement layer for central banks or a new way for the old guard to make more money and banks get bigger and for those who are in control to preserve their power. The whole point of doing something so crazy as to buy a coin that doesn't even exist in real life, that's just a bunch of numbers in the cloud, the whole point of that was so that we as a society could do something different than the way that we'd been doing things before. So, each and every member of the cryptocurrency space needs to remind everyone else from time to time why we're here and where did we come from and where are we going to go.
The beauty of Cardano is we have already achieved for the most part a decentralized brain and that momentum is pushing harder than ever. More and more scientists are waking up, more and more institutions are waking up, getting us there. The code we have, the right approach and I think we have a great competitive offering for 2021 as we go and battle the titans and that's going to be a lot of fun but we know who we are and where we're going and we're in the right places. It's so incredibly encouraging to see the stake pool operators not just be from California or Texas or New York or Canada. To see a lot of stake pool operators from the place that need the most, help everybody does matter and it means a lot to me for the people who are there but it means a lot to everybody to say that we have created an equal platform. It makes the participation of all of us so much more meaningful. We're not just talking to each other, we're talking to the world and by working together on this platform we're lifting the world up and giving people hope. That's the point, there's a lot more to do, we didn't get everything done. You never do you aspire, you work hard, you set a moon, shot and sometimes you can just get to orbit with the first go but you know what? When you build the next rocket you can go to Mars.
Thank you all for being with me, thank you all for being part of this. Today was a damn good day with the announcement of Voltaire. Go to cardano.ideascale.com. You can participate in that, so end of September is going to be a good day too. There's a lot of good days to come, in between a lot of hard days, doing tasks sometimes entirely forgettable but always necessary to keep the revolution going and the movement going. I cannot wait for 2021, our best days are ahead of us, because of you. You all take care now .
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFa9zL_Dl_w
Other things mentioned:
https://cardano.ideascale.com/
https://www.atixlabs.com/blockchain
https://www.well-typed.com/
https://www.vacuumlabs.com/
https://medium.com/interdax/what-is-taproot-and-how-will-it-benefit-bitcoin-5c8944eed8da
https://medium.com/interdax/how-will-schnorr-signatures-benefit-bitcoin-b4482cf85d40
https://quantstamp.com/
https://bloxian.com/bloxian-platforms/ (TWIG)
https://runtimeverification.com/firefly/
https://www.trufflesuite.com/
https://experts.illinois.edu/en/publications/prism-deconstructing-the-blockchain-to-approach-physical-limits (PrisM and not our Prism https://atalaprism.io/)
Ebb-and-Flow Protocols: A Resolution of the Availability-Finality Dilemma (aka Gasper and ETH2.0 fucker) https://arxiv.org/abs/2009.04987
http://www.quviq.com/products/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schnorr_signature
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Why i’m bullish on Zilliqa (long read)

Hey all, I've been researching coins since 2017 and have gone through 100s of them in the last 3 years. I got introduced to blockchain via Bitcoin of course, analysed Ethereum thereafter and from that moment I have a keen interest in smart contact platforms. I’m passionate about Ethereum but I find Zilliqa to have a better risk reward ratio. Especially because Zilliqa has found an elegant balance between being secure, decentralised and scalable in my opinion.
 
Below I post my analysis why from all the coins I went through I’m most bullish on Zilliqa (yes I went through Tezos, EOS, NEO, VeChain, Harmony, Algorand, Cardano etc.). Note that this is not investment advice and although it's a thorough analysis there is obviously some bias involved. Looking forward to what you all think!
 
Fun fact: the name Zilliqa is a play on ‘silica’ silicon dioxide which means “Silicon for the high-throughput consensus computer.”
 
This post is divided into (i) Technology, (ii) Business & Partnerships, and (iii) Marketing & Community. I’ve tried to make the technology part readable for a broad audience. If you’ve ever tried understanding the inner workings of Bitcoin and Ethereum you should be able to grasp most parts. Otherwise just skim through and once you are zoning out head to the next part.
 
Technology and some more:
 
Introduction The technology is one of the main reasons why I’m so bullish on Zilliqa. First thing you see on their website is: “Zilliqa is a high-performance, high-security blockchain platform for enterprises and next-generation applications.” These are some bold statements.
 
Before we deep dive into the technology let’s take a step back in time first as they have quite the history. The initial research paper from which Zilliqa originated dates back to August 2016: Elastico: A Secure Sharding Protocol For Open Blockchains where Loi Luu (Kyber Network) is one of the co-authors. Other ideas that led to the development of what Zilliqa has become today are: Bitcoin-NG, collective signing CoSi, ByzCoin and Omniledger.
 
The technical white paper was made public in August 2017 and since then they have achieved everything stated in the white paper and also created their own open source intermediate level smart contract language called Scilla (functional programming language similar to OCaml) too.
 
Mainnet is live since end of January 2019 with daily transaction rate growing continuously. About a week ago mainnet reached 5 million transactions, 500.000+ addresses in total along with 2400 nodes keeping the network decentralised and secure. Circulating supply is nearing 11 billion and currently only mining rewards are left. Maximum supply is 21 billion with annual inflation being 7.13% currently and will only decrease with time.
 
Zilliqa realised early on that the usage of public cryptocurrencies and smart contracts were increasing but decentralised, secure and scalable alternatives were lacking in the crypto space. They proposed to apply sharding onto a public smart contract blockchain where the transaction rate increases almost linear with the increase in amount of nodes. More nodes = higher transaction throughput and increased decentralisation. Sharding comes in many forms and Zilliqa uses network-, transaction- and computational sharding. Network sharding opens up the possibility of using transaction- and computational sharding on top. Zilliqa does not use state sharding for now. We’ll come back to this later.
 
Before we continue disecting how Zilliqa achieves such from a technological standpoint it’s good to keep in mind that a blockchain being decentralised and secure and scalable is still one of the main hurdles in allowing widespread usage of decentralised networks. In my opinion this needs to be solved first before blockchains can get to the point where they can create and add large scale value. So I invite you to read the next section to grasp the underlying fundamentals. Because after all these premises need to be true otherwise there isn’t a fundamental case to be bullish on Zilliqa, right?
 
Down the rabbit hole
 
How have they achieved this? Let’s define the basics first: key players on Zilliqa are the users and the miners. A user is anybody who uses the blockchain to transfer funds or run smart contracts. Miners are the (shard) nodes in the network who run the consensus protocol and get rewarded for their service in Zillings (ZIL). The mining network is divided into several smaller networks called shards, which is also referred to as ‘network sharding’. Miners subsequently are randomly assigned to a shard by another set of miners called DS (Directory Service) nodes. The regular shards process transactions and the outputs of these shards are eventually combined by the DS shard as they reach consensus on the final state. More on how these DS shards reach consensus (via pBFT) will be explained later on.
 
The Zilliqa network produces two types of blocks: DS blocks and Tx blocks. One DS Block consists of 100 Tx Blocks. And as previously mentioned there are two types of nodes concerned with reaching consensus: shard nodes and DS nodes. Becoming a shard node or DS node is being defined by the result of a PoW cycle (Ethash) at the beginning of the DS Block. All candidate mining nodes compete with each other and run the PoW (Proof-of-Work) cycle for 60 seconds and the submissions achieving the highest difficulty will be allowed on the network. And to put it in perspective: the average difficulty for one DS node is ~ 2 Th/s equaling 2.000.000 Mh/s or 55 thousand+ GeForce GTX 1070 / 8 GB GPUs at 35.4 Mh/s. Each DS Block 10 new DS nodes are allowed. And a shard node needs to provide around 8.53 GH/s currently (around 240 GTX 1070s). Dual mining ETH/ETC and ZIL is possible and can be done via mining software such as Phoenix and Claymore. There are pools and if you have large amounts of hashing power (Ethash) available you could mine solo.
 
The PoW cycle of 60 seconds is a peak performance and acts as an entry ticket to the network. The entry ticket is called a sybil resistance mechanism and makes it incredibly hard for adversaries to spawn lots of identities and manipulate the network with these identities. And after every 100 Tx Blocks which corresponds to roughly 1,5 hour this PoW process repeats. In between these 1,5 hour no PoW needs to be done meaning Zilliqa’s energy consumption to keep the network secure is low. For more detailed information on how mining works click here.
Okay, hats off to you. You have made it this far. Before we go any deeper down the rabbit hole we first must understand why Zilliqa goes through all of the above technicalities and understand a bit more what a blockchain on a more fundamental level is. Because the core of Zilliqa’s consensus protocol relies on the usage of pBFT (practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance) we need to know more about state machines and their function. Navigate to Viewblock, a Zilliqa block explorer, and just come back to this article. We will use this site to navigate through a few concepts.
 
We have established that Zilliqa is a public and distributed blockchain. Meaning that everyone with an internet connection can send ZILs, trigger smart contracts etc. and there is no central authority who fully controls the network. Zilliqa and other public and distributed blockchains (like Bitcoin and Ethereum) can also be defined as state machines.
 
Taking the liberty of paraphrasing examples and definitions given by Samuel Brooks’ medium article, he describes the definition of a blockchain (like Zilliqa) as:
“A peer-to-peer, append-only datastore that uses consensus to synchronise cryptographically-secure data”.
 
Next he states that: >“blockchains are fundamentally systems for managing valid state transitions”.* For some more context, I recommend reading the whole medium article to get a better grasp of the definitions and understanding of state machines. Nevertheless, let’s try to simplify and compile it into a single paragraph. Take traffic lights as an example: all its states (red, amber and green) are predefined, all possible outcomes are known and it doesn’t matter if you encounter the traffic light today or tomorrow. It will still behave the same. Managing the states of a traffic light can be done by triggering a sensor on the road or pushing a button resulting in one traffic lights’ state going from green to red (via amber) and another light from red to green.
 
With public blockchains like Zilliqa this isn’t so straightforward and simple. It started with block #1 almost 1,5 years ago and every 45 seconds or so a new block linked to the previous block is being added. Resulting in a chain of blocks with transactions in it that everyone can verify from block #1 to the current #647.000+ block. The state is ever changing and the states it can find itself in are infinite. And while the traffic light might work together in tandem with various other traffic lights, it’s rather insignificant comparing it to a public blockchain. Because Zilliqa consists of 2400 nodes who need to work together to achieve consensus on what the latest valid state is while some of these nodes may have latency or broadcast issues, drop offline or are deliberately trying to attack the network etc.
 
Now go back to the Viewblock page take a look at the amount of transaction, addresses, block and DS height and then hit refresh. Obviously as expected you see new incremented values on one or all parameters. And how did the Zilliqa blockchain manage to transition from a previous valid state to the latest valid state? By using pBFT to reach consensus on the latest valid state.
 
After having obtained the entry ticket, miners execute pBFT to reach consensus on the ever changing state of the blockchain. pBFT requires a series of network communication between nodes, and as such there is no GPU involved (but CPU). Resulting in the total energy consumed to keep the blockchain secure, decentralised and scalable being low.
 
pBFT stands for practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance and is an optimisation on the Byzantine Fault Tolerant algorithm. To quote Blockonomi: “In the context of distributed systems, Byzantine Fault Tolerance is the ability of a distributed computer network to function as desired and correctly reach a sufficient consensus despite malicious components (nodes) of the system failing or propagating incorrect information to other peers.” Zilliqa is such a distributed computer network and depends on the honesty of the nodes (shard and DS) to reach consensus and to continuously update the state with the latest block. If pBFT is a new term for you I can highly recommend the Blockonomi article.
 
The idea of pBFT was introduced in 1999 - one of the authors even won a Turing award for it - and it is well researched and applied in various blockchains and distributed systems nowadays. If you want more advanced information than the Blockonomi link provides click here. And if you’re in between Blockonomi and University of Singapore read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 2 dating from October 2017.
Quoting from the Zilliqa tech whitepaper: “pBFT relies upon a correct leader (which is randomly selected) to begin each phase and proceed when the sufficient majority exists. In case the leader is byzantine it can stall the entire consensus protocol. To address this challenge, pBFT offers a view change protocol to replace the byzantine leader with another one.”
 
pBFT can tolerate ⅓ of the nodes being dishonest (offline counts as Byzantine = dishonest) and the consensus protocol will function without stalling or hiccups. Once there are more than ⅓ of dishonest nodes but no more than ⅔ the network will be stalled and a view change will be triggered to elect a new DS leader. Only when more than ⅔ of the nodes are dishonest (>66%) double spend attacks become possible.
 
If the network stalls no transactions can be processed and one has to wait until a new honest leader has been elected. When the mainnet was just launched and in its early phases, view changes happened regularly. As of today the last stalling of the network - and view change being triggered - was at the end of October 2019.
 
Another benefit of using pBFT for consensus besides low energy is the immediate finality it provides. Once your transaction is included in a block and the block is added to the chain it’s done. Lastly, take a look at this article where three types of finality are being defined: probabilistic, absolute and economic finality. Zilliqa falls under the absolute finality (just like Tendermint for example). Although lengthy already we skipped through some of the inner workings from Zilliqa’s consensus: read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 3 and you will be close to having a complete picture on it. Enough about PoW, sybil resistance mechanism, pBFT etc. Another thing we haven’t looked at yet is the amount of decentralisation.
 
Decentralisation
 
Currently there are four shards, each one of them consisting of 600 nodes. 1 shard with 600 so called DS nodes (Directory Service - they need to achieve a higher difficulty than shard nodes) and 1800 shard nodes of which 250 are shard guards (centralised nodes controlled by the team). The amount of shard guards has been steadily declining from 1200 in January 2019 to 250 as of May 2020. On the Viewblock statistics you can see that many of the nodes are being located in the US but those are only the (CPU parts of the) shard nodes who perform pBFT. There is no data from where the PoW sources are coming. And when the Zilliqa blockchain starts reaching their transaction capacity limit, a network upgrade needs to be executed to lift the current cap of maximum 2400 nodes to allow more nodes and formation of more shards which will allow to network to keep on scaling according to demand.
Besides shard nodes there are also seed nodes. The main role of seed nodes is to serve as direct access points (for end users and clients) to the core Zilliqa network that validates transactions. Seed nodes consolidate transaction requests and forward these to the lookup nodes (another type of nodes) for distribution to the shards in the network. Seed nodes also maintain the entire transaction history and the global state of the blockchain which is needed to provide services such as block explorers. Seed nodes in the Zilliqa network are comparable to Infura on Ethereum.
 
The seed nodes were first only operated by Zilliqa themselves, exchanges and Viewblock. Operators of seed nodes like exchanges had no incentive to open them for the greater public.They were centralised at first. Decentralisation at the seed nodes level has been steadily rolled out since March 2020 ( Zilliqa Improvement Proposal 3 ). Currently the amount of seed nodes is being increased, they are public facing and at the same time PoS is applied to incentivize seed node operators and make it possible for ZIL holders to stake and earn passive yields. Important distinction: seed nodes are not involved with consensus! That is still PoW as entry ticket and pBFT for the actual consensus.
 
5% of the block rewards are being assigned to seed nodes (from the beginning in 2019) and those are being used to pay out ZIL stakers.The 5% block rewards with an annual yield of 10.03% translates to roughly 610 MM ZILs in total that can be staked. Exchanges use the custodial variant of staking and wallets like Moonlet will use the non custodial version (starting in Q3 2020). Staking is being done by sending ZILs to a smart contract created by Zilliqa and audited by Quantstamp.
 
With a high amount of DS & shard nodes and seed nodes becoming more decentralised too, Zilliqa qualifies for the label of decentralised in my opinion.
 
Smart contracts
 
Let me start by saying I’m not a developer and my programming skills are quite limited. So I‘m taking the ELI5 route (maybe 12) but if you are familiar with Javascript, Solidity or specifically OCaml please head straight to Scilla - read the docs to get a good initial grasp of how Zilliqa’s smart contract language Scilla works and if you ask yourself “why another programming language?” check this article. And if you want to play around with some sample contracts in an IDE click here. Faucet can be found here. And more information on architecture, dapp development and API can be found on the Developer Portal.
If you are more into listening and watching: check this recent webinar explaining Zilliqa and Scilla. Link is time stamped so you’ll start right away with a platform introduction, R&D roadmap 2020 and afterwards a proper Scilla introduction.
 
Generalised: programming languages can be divided into being ‘object oriented’ or ‘functional’. Here is an ELI5 given by software development academy: > “all programmes have two basic components, data – what the programme knows – and behaviour – what the programme can do with that data. So object-oriented programming states that combining data and related behaviours in one place, is called “object”, which makes it easier to understand how a particular program works. On the other hand, functional programming argues that data and behaviour are different things and should be separated to ensure their clarity.”
 
Scilla is on the functional side and shares similarities with OCaml: > OCaml is a general purpose programming language with an emphasis on expressiveness and safety. It has an advanced type system that helps catch your mistakes without getting in your way. It's used in environments where a single mistake can cost millions and speed matters, is supported by an active community, and has a rich set of libraries and development tools. For all its power, OCaml is also pretty simple, which is one reason it's often used as a teaching language.
 
Scilla is blockchain agnostic, can be implemented onto other blockchains as well, is recognised by academics and won a so called Distinguished Artifact Award award at the end of last year.
 
One of the reasons why the Zilliqa team decided to create their own programming language focused on preventing smart contract vulnerabilities safety is that adding logic on a blockchain, programming, means that you cannot afford to make mistakes. Otherwise it could cost you. It’s all great and fun blockchains being immutable but updating your code because you found a bug isn’t the same as with a regular web application for example. And with smart contracts it inherently involves cryptocurrencies in some form thus value.
 
Another difference with programming languages on a blockchain is gas. Every transaction you do on a smart contract platform like Zilliqa for Ethereum costs gas. With gas you basically pay for computational costs. Sending a ZIL from address A to address B costs 0.001 ZIL currently. Smart contracts are more complex, often involve various functions and require more gas (if gas is a new concept click here ).
 
So with Scilla, similar to Solidity, you need to make sure that “every function in your smart contract will run as expected without hitting gas limits. An improper resource analysis may lead to situations where funds may get stuck simply because a part of the smart contract code cannot be executed due to gas limits. Such constraints are not present in traditional software systems”. Scilla design story part 1
 
Some examples of smart contract issues you’d want to avoid are: leaking funds, ‘unexpected changes to critical state variables’ (example: someone other than you setting his or her address as the owner of the smart contract after creation) or simply killing a contract.
 
Scilla also allows for formal verification. Wikipedia to the rescue:
In the context of hardware and software systems, formal verification is the act of proving or disproving the correctness of intended algorithms underlying a system with respect to a certain formal specification or property, using formal methods of mathematics.
 
Formal verification can be helpful in proving the correctness of systems such as: cryptographic protocols, combinational circuits, digital circuits with internal memory, and software expressed as source code.
 
Scilla is being developed hand-in-hand with formalization of its semantics and its embedding into the Coq proof assistant — a state-of-the art tool for mechanized proofs about properties of programs.”
 
Simply put, with Scilla and accompanying tooling developers can be mathematically sure and proof that the smart contract they’ve written does what he or she intends it to do.
 
Smart contract on a sharded environment and state sharding
 
There is one more topic I’d like to touch on: smart contract execution in a sharded environment (and what is the effect of state sharding). This is a complex topic. I’m not able to explain it any easier than what is posted here. But I will try to compress the post into something easy to digest.
 
Earlier on we have established that Zilliqa can process transactions in parallel due to network sharding. This is where the linear scalability comes from. We can define simple transactions: a transaction from address A to B (Category 1), a transaction where a user interacts with one smart contract (Category 2) and the most complex ones where triggering a transaction results in multiple smart contracts being involved (Category 3). The shards are able to process transactions on their own without interference of the other shards. With Category 1 transactions that is doable, with Category 2 transactions sometimes if that address is in the same shard as the smart contract but with Category 3 you definitely need communication between the shards. Solving that requires to make a set of communication rules the protocol needs to follow in order to process all transactions in a generalised fashion.
 
And this is where the downsides of state sharding comes in currently. All shards in Zilliqa have access to the complete state. Yes the state size (0.1 GB at the moment) grows and all of the nodes need to store it but it also means that they don’t need to shop around for information available on other shards. Requiring more communication and adding more complexity. Computer science knowledge and/or developer knowledge required links if you want to dig further: Scilla - language grammar Scilla - Foundations for Verifiable Decentralised Computations on a Blockchain Gas Accounting NUS x Zilliqa: Smart contract language workshop
 
Easier to follow links on programming Scilla https://learnscilla.com/home Ivan on Tech
 
Roadmap / Zilliqa 2.0
 
There is no strict defined roadmap but here are topics being worked on. And via the Zilliqa website there is also more information on the projects they are working on.
 
Business & Partnerships  
It’s not only technology in which Zilliqa seems to be excelling as their ecosystem has been expanding and starting to grow rapidly. The project is on a mission to provide OpenFinance (OpFi) to the world and Singapore is the right place to be due to its progressive regulations and futuristic thinking. Singapore has taken a proactive approach towards cryptocurrencies by introducing the Payment Services Act 2019 (PS Act). Among other things, the PS Act will regulate intermediaries dealing with certain cryptocurrencies, with a particular focus on consumer protection and anti-money laundering. It will also provide a stable regulatory licensing and operating framework for cryptocurrency entities, effectively covering all crypto businesses and exchanges based in Singapore. According to PWC 82% of the surveyed executives in Singapore reported blockchain initiatives underway and 13% of them have already brought the initiatives live to the market. There is also an increasing list of organisations that are starting to provide digital payment services. Moreover, Singaporean blockchain developers Building Cities Beyond has recently created an innovation $15 million grant to encourage development on its ecosystem. This all suggest that Singapore tries to position itself as (one of) the leading blockchain hubs in the world.
 
Zilliqa seems to already taking advantage of this and recently helped launch Hg Exchange on their platform, together with financial institutions PhillipCapital, PrimePartners and Fundnel. Hg Exchange, which is now approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), uses smart contracts to represent digital assets. Through Hg Exchange financial institutions worldwide can use Zilliqa's safe-by-design smart contracts to enable the trading of private equities. For example, think of companies such as Grab, AirBnB, SpaceX that are not available for public trading right now. Hg Exchange will allow investors to buy shares of private companies & unicorns and capture their value before an IPO. Anquan, the main company behind Zilliqa, has also recently announced that they became a partner and shareholder in TEN31 Bank, which is a fully regulated bank allowing for tokenization of assets and is aiming to bridge the gap between conventional banking and the blockchain world. If STOs, the tokenization of assets, and equity trading will continue to increase, then Zilliqa’s public blockchain would be the ideal candidate due to its strategic positioning, partnerships, regulatory compliance and the technology that is being built on top of it.
 
What is also very encouraging is their focus on banking the un(der)banked. They are launching a stablecoin basket starting with XSGD. As many of you know, stablecoins are currently mostly used for trading. However, Zilliqa is actively trying to broaden the use case of stablecoins. I recommend everybody to read this text that Amrit Kumar wrote (one of the co-founders). These stablecoins will be integrated in the traditional markets and bridge the gap between the crypto world and the traditional world. This could potentially revolutionize and legitimise the crypto space if retailers and companies will for example start to use stablecoins for payments or remittances, instead of it solely being used for trading.
 
Zilliqa also released their DeFi strategic roadmap (dating November 2019) which seems to be aligning well with their OpFi strategy. A non-custodial DEX is coming to Zilliqa made by Switcheo which allows cross-chain trading (atomic swaps) between ETH, EOS and ZIL based tokens. They also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a (soon to be announced) USD stablecoin. And as Zilliqa is all about regulations and being compliant, I’m speculating on it to be a regulated USD stablecoin. Furthermore, XSGD is already created and visible on block explorer and XIDR (Indonesian Stablecoin) is also coming soon via StraitsX. Here also an overview of the Tech Stack for Financial Applications from September 2019. Further quoting Amrit Kumar on this:
 
There are two basic building blocks in DeFi/OpFi though: 1) stablecoins as you need a non-volatile currency to get access to this market and 2) a dex to be able to trade all these financial assets. The rest are build on top of these blocks.
 
So far, together with our partners and community, we have worked on developing these building blocks with XSGD as a stablecoin. We are working on bringing a USD-backed stablecoin as well. We will soon have a decentralised exchange developed by Switcheo. And with HGX going live, we are also venturing into the tokenization space. More to come in the future.”*
 
Additionally, they also have this ZILHive initiative that injects capital into projects. There have been already 6 waves of various teams working on infrastructure, innovation and research, and they are not from ASEAN or Singapore only but global: see Grantees breakdown by country. Over 60 project teams from over 20 countries have contributed to Zilliqa's ecosystem. This includes individuals and teams developing wallets, explorers, developer toolkits, smart contract testing frameworks, dapps, etc. As some of you may know, Unstoppable Domains (UD) blew up when they launched on Zilliqa. UD aims to replace cryptocurrency addresses with a human readable name and allows for uncensorable websites. Zilliqa will probably be the only one able to handle all these transactions onchain due to ability to scale and its resulting low fees which is why the UD team launched this on Zilliqa in the first place. Furthermore, Zilliqa also has a strong emphasis on security, compliance, and privacy, which is why they partnered with companies like Elliptic, ChainSecurity (part of PwC Switzerland), and Incognito. Their sister company Aqilliz (Zilliqa spelled backwards) focuses on revolutionizing the digital advertising space and is doing interesting things like using Zilliqa to track outdoor digital ads with companies like Foodpanda.
 
Zilliqa is listed on nearly all major exchanges, having several different fiat-gateways and recently have been added to Binance’s margin trading and futures trading with really good volume. They also have a very impressive team with good credentials and experience. They dont just have “tech people”. They have a mix of tech people, business people, marketeers, scientists, and more. Naturally, it's good to have a mix of people with different skill sets if you work in the crypto space.
 
Marketing & Community
 
Zilliqa has a very strong community. If you just follow their Twitter their engagement is much higher for a coin that has approximately 80k followers. They also have been ‘coin of the day’ by LunarCrush many times. LunarCrush tracks real-time cryptocurrency value and social data. According to their data it seems Zilliqa has a more fundamental and deeper understanding of marketing and community engagement than almost all other coins. While almost all coins have been a bit frozen in the last months, Zilliqa seems to be on its own bull run. It was somewhere in the 100s a few months ago and is currently ranked #46 on CoinGecko. Their official Telegram also has over 20k people and is very active, and their community channel which is over 7k now is more active and larger than many other official channels. Their local communities) also seem to be growing.
 
Moreover, their community started ‘Zillacracy’ together with the Zilliqa core team ( see www.zillacracy.com ). It’s a community run initiative where people from all over the world are now helping with marketing and development on Zilliqa. Since its launch in February 2020 they have been doing a lot and will also run their own non custodial seed node for staking. This seed node will also allow them to start generating revenue for them to become a self sustaining entity that could potentially scale up to become a decentralized company working in parallel with the Zilliqa core team. Comparing it to all the other smart contract platforms (e.g. Cardano, EOS, Tezos etc.) they don't seem to have started a similar initiatives (correct me if I’m wrong though). This suggest in my opinion that these other smart contract platforms do not fully understand how to utilize the ‘power of the community’. This is something you cannot ‘buy with money’ and gives many projects in the space a disadvantage.
 
Zilliqa also released two social products called SocialPay and Zeeves. SocialPay allows users to earn ZILs while tweeting with a specific hashtag. They have recently used it in partnership with the Singapore Red Cross for a marketing campaign after their initial pilot program. It seems like a very valuable social product with a good use case. I can see a lot of traditional companies entering the space through this product, which they seem to suggest will happen. Tokenizing hashtags with smart contracts to get network effect is a very smart and innovative idea.
 
Regarding Zeeves, this is a tipping bot for Telegram. They already have 1000s of signups and they plan to keep upgrading it for more and more people to use it (e.g. they recently have added a quiz features). They also use it during AMAs to reward people in real time. It’s a very smart approach to grow their communities and get familiar with ZIL. I can see this becoming very big on Telegram. This tool suggests, again, that the Zilliqa team has a deeper understanding what the crypto space and community needs and is good at finding the right innovative tools to grow and scale.
 
To be honest, I haven’t covered everything (i’m also reaching the character limited haha). So many updates happening lately that it's hard to keep up, such as the International Monetary Fund mentioning Zilliqa in their report, custodial and non-custodial Staking, Binance Margin, Futures & Widget, entering the Indian market, and more. The Head of Marketing Colin Miles has also released this as an overview of what is coming next. And last but not least, Vitalik Buterin has been mentioning Zilliqa lately acknowledging Zilliqa and mentioning that both projects have a lot of room to grow. There is much more info of course and a good part of it has been served to you on a silver platter. I invite you to continue researching by yourself :-) And if you have any comments or questions please post here!
submitted by haveyouheardaboutit to CryptoCurrency [link] [comments]

Filecoin | Development Status and Mining Progress

Author: Gamals Ahmed, CoinEx Business Ambassador
https://preview.redd.it/5bqakdqgl3g51.jpg?width=865&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=b709794863977eb6554e3919b9e00ca750e3e704
A decentralized storage network that transforms cloud storage into an account market. Miners obtain the integrity of the original protocol by providing data storage and / or retrieval. On the contrary, customers pay miners to store or distribute data and retrieve it.
Filecoin announced, that there will be more delays before its main network is officially launched.
Filecoin developers postponed the release date of their main network to late July to late August 2020.
As mentioned in a recent announcement, the Filecoin team said that the initiative completed the first round of the internal protocol security audit. Platform developers claim that the results of the review showed that they need to make several changes to the protocol’s code base before performing the second stage of the software testing process.
Created by Protocol Labs, Filecoin was developed using File System (IPFS), which is a peer-to-peer data storage network. Filecoin will allow users to trade storage space in an open and decentralized market.
Filecoin developers implemented one of the largest cryptocurrency sales in 2017. They have privately obtained over $ 200 million from professional or accredited investors, including many institutional investors.
The main network was slated to launch last month, but in February 2020, the Philly Queen development team delayed the release of the main network between July 15 and July 17, 2020.
They claimed that the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in China was the main cause of the delay. The developers now say that they need more time to solve the problems found during a recent codecase audit.
The Filecoin team noted the following:
“We have drafted a number of protocol changes to ensure that building our major network launch is safe and economically sound.” The project developers will add them to two different implementations of Filecoin (Lotus and go-filecoin) in the coming weeks.
Filecoin developers conducted a survey to allow platform community members to cast their votes on three different launch dates for Testnet Phase 2 and mainnet.
The team reported that the community gave their votes. Based on the vote results, the Filecoin team announced a “conservative” estimate that the second phase of the network test should begin by May 11, 2020. The main Filecoin network may be launched sometime between July 20 and August 21, 2020.
The updates to the project can be found on the Filecoin Road Map.
Filecoin developers stated:
“This option will make us get the most important protocol changes first, and then implement the rest as protocol updates during testnet.” Filecoin is back down from the final test stage.
Another filecoin decentralized storage network provider launched its catalytic test network, the final stage of the storage network test that supports the blockchain.
In a blog post on her website, Filecoin said she will postpone the last test round until August. The company also announced a calibration period from July 20 to August 3 to allow miners to test their mining settings and get an idea of how competition conditions affected their rewards.
Filecoin had announced earlier last month that the catalytic testnet test would precede its flagship launch. The delay in the final test also means that the company has returned the main launch window between August 31 and September 21.
Despite the lack of clear incentives for miners and multiple delays, Filecoin has succeeded in attracting huge interest, especially in China. Investors remained highly speculating on the network’s mining hardware and its premium price.
Mining in Filecoin
In most blockchain protocols, “miners” are network participants who do the work necessary to promote and maintain the blockchain. To provide these services, miners are compensated in the original cryptocurrency.
Mining in Filecoin works completely differently — instead of contributing to computational power, miners contribute storage capacity to use for dealing with customers looking to store data.
Filecoin will contain several types of miners:
Storage miners responsible for storing files and data on the network. Miners retrieval, responsible for providing quick tubes for file recovery. Miners repair to be carried out.
Storage miners are the heart of the network. They earn Filecoin by storing data for clients, and computerizing cipher directories to check storage over time. The probability of earning the reward reward and transaction fees is proportional to the amount of storage that the Miner contributes to the Filecoin network, not the hash power.
Retriever miners are the veins of the network. They earn Filecoin by winning bids and mining fees for a specific file, which is determined by the market value of the said file size. Miners bandwidth and recovery / initial transaction response time will determine its ability to close recovery deals on the network.
The maximum bandwidth of the recovery miners will determine the total amount of deals that it can enter into.
In the current implementation, the focus is mostly on storage miners, who sell storage capacity for FIL.

Hardware recommendations

The current system specifications recommended for running the miner are:
Compared to the hardware requirements for running a validity checker, these standards are much higher — although they definitely deserve it. Since these will not increase in the presumed future, the money spent on Filecoin mining hardware will provide users with many years of reliable service, and they pay themselves many times. Think of investing as a small business for cloud storage. To launch a model on the current data hosting model, it will cost millions of dollars in infrastructure and logistics to get started. With Filecoin, you can do the same for a few thousand dollars.
Proceed to mining
Deals are the primary function of the Filecoin network, and it represents an agreement between a client and miners for a “storage” contract.
Once the customer decides to have a miner to store based on the available capacity, duration and price required, he secures sufficient funds in a linked portfolio to cover the total cost of the deal. The deal is then published once the mine accepts the storage agreement. By default, all Filecoin miners are set to automatically accept any deal that meets their criteria, although this can be disabled for miners who prefer to organize their deals manually.
After the deal is published, the customer prepares the data for storage and then transfers it to the miner. Upon receiving all the data, the miner fills in the data in a sector, closes it, and begins to provide proofs to the chain. Once the first confirmation is obtained, the customer can make sure the data is stored correctly, and the deal has officially started.
Throughout the deal, the miner provides continuous proofs to the chain. Clients gradually pay with money they previously closed. If there is missing or late evidence, the miner is punished. More information about this can be found in the Runtime, Cut and Penalties section of this page.
At Filecoin, miners earn two different types of rewards for their efforts: storage fees and reward prevention.
Storage fees are the fees that customers pay regularly after reaching a deal, in exchange for storing data. This fee is automatically deposited into the withdrawal portfolio associated with miners while they continue to perform their duties over time, and is locked for a short period upon receipt.
Block rewards are large sums given to miners calculated on a new block. Unlike storage fees, these rewards do not come from a linked customer; Instead, the new FIL “prints” the network as an inflationary and incentive measure for miners to develop the chain. All active miners on the network have a chance to get a block bonus, their chance to be directly proportional to the amount of storage space that is currently being contributed to the network.
Duration of operation, cutting and penalties
“Slashing” is a feature found in most blockchain protocols, and is used to punish miners who fail to provide reliable uptime or act maliciously against the network.
In Filecoin, miners are susceptible to two different types of cut: storage error cut, unanimously reduce error.
Storage Error Reduction is a term used to include a wider range of penalties, including error fees, sector penalties, and termination fees. Miners must pay these penalties if they fail to provide reliability of the sector or decide to leave the network voluntarily.
An error fee is a penalty that a miner incurs for each non-working day. Sector punishment: A penalty incurred by a miner of a disrupted sector for which no error was reported before the WindowPoSt inspection.
The sector will pay an error fee after the penalty of the sector once the error is discovered.
Termination Fee: A penalty that a miner incurs when a sector is voluntary or involuntarily terminated and removed from the network.
Cutting consensus error is the penalty that a miner incurs for committing consensus errors. This punishment applies to miners who have acted maliciously against the network consensus function.
Filecoin miners
Eight of the top 10 Felticoin miners are Chinese investors or companies, according to the blockchain explorer, while more companies are selling cloud mining contracts and distributed file sharing system hardware. CoinDesk’s Wolfe Chao wrote: “China’s craze for Filecoin may have been largely related to the long-standing popularity of crypto mining in the country overall, which is home to about 65% of the computing power on Bitcoin at discretion.”
With Filecoin approaching the launch of the mainnet blocknet — after several delays since the $ 200 million increase in 2017 — Chinese investors are once again speculating strongly about network mining devices and their premium prices.
Since Protocol Labs, the company behind Filecoin, released its “Test Incentives” program on June 9 that was scheduled to start in a week’s time, more than a dozen Chinese companies have started selling cloud mining contracts and hardware — despite important details such as economics Mining incentives on the main network are still endless.
Sales volumes to date for each of these companies can range from half a million to tens of millions of dollars, according to self-reported data on these platforms that CoinDesk has watched and interviews with several mining hardware manufacturers.
Filecoin’s goal is to build a distributed storage network with token rewards to spur storage hosting as a way to drive wider adoption. Protocol Labs launched a test network in December 2019. But the tokens mined in the testing environment so far are not representative of the true silicon coin that can be traded when the main network is turned on. Moreover, the mining incentive economics on testnet do not represent how final block rewards will be available on the main network.
However, data from Blockecoin’s blocknetin testnet explorers show that eight out of 10 miners with the most effective mining force on testnet are currently Chinese miners.
These eight miners have about 15 petabytes (PB) of effective storage mining power, accounting for more than 85% of the total test of 17.9 petable. For the context, 1 petabyte of hard disk storage = 1000 terabytes (terabytes) = 1 million gigabytes (GB).
Filecoin craze in China may be closely related to the long-standing popularity of crypt mining in the country overall, which is home to about 65% of the computing power on Bitcoin by estimation. In addition, there has been a lot of hype in China about foreign exchange mining since 2018, as companies promote all types of devices when the network is still in development.
“Encryption mining has always been popular in China,” said Andy Tien, co-founder of 1475, one of several mining hardware manufacturers in Philquin supported by prominent Chinese video indicators such as Fenbushi and Hashkey Capital.
“Even though the Velikoyen mining process is more technologically sophisticated, the idea of mining using hard drives instead of specialized machines like Bitcoin ASIC may be a lot easier for retailers to understand,” he said.
Meanwhile, according to Feixiaohao, a Chinese service comparable to CoinMarketCap, nearly 50 Chinese crypto exchanges are often somewhat unknown with some of the more well-known exchanges including Gate.io and Biki — have listed trading pairs for Filecoin currency contracts for USDT.
In bitcoin mining, at the current difficulty level, one segment per second (TH / s) fragmentation rate is expected to generate around 0.000008 BTC within 24 hours. The higher the number of TH / s, the greater the number of bitcoins it should be able to produce proportionately. But in Filecoin, the efficient mining force of miners depends on the amount of data stamped on the hard drive, not the total size of the hard drive.
To close data in the hard drive, the Filecoin miner still needs processing power, i.e. CPU or GPU as well as RAM. More powerful processors with improved software can confine data to the hard drive more quickly, so miners can combine more efficient mining energy faster on a given day.
As of this stage, there appears to be no transparent way at the network level for retail investors to see how much of the purchased hard disk drive was purchased which actually represents an effective mining force.
The U.S.-based Labs Protocol was behind Filecoin’s initial coin offer for 2017, which raised an astonishing $ 200 million.
This was in addition to a $ 50 million increase in private investment supported by notable venture capital projects including Sequoia, Anderson Horowitz and Union Square Ventures. CoinDk’s parent company, CoinDk, has also invested in Protocol Labs.
After rounds of delay, Protocol Protocols said in September 2019 that a testnet launch would be available around December 2019 and the main network would be rolled out in the first quarter of 2020.
The test started as promised, but the main network has been delayed again and is now expected to launch in August 2020. What is Filecoin mining process?
Filecoin mainly consists of three parts: the storage market (the chain), the blockecin Filecoin, and the search market (under the chain). Storage and research market in series and series respectively for security and efficiency. For users, the storage frequency is relatively low, and the security requirements are relatively high, so the storage process is placed on the chain. The retrieval frequency is much higher than the storage frequency when there is a certain amount of data. Given the performance problem in processing data on the chain, the retrieval process under the chain is performed. In order to solve the security issue of payment in the retrieval process, Filecoin adopts the micro-payment strategy. In simple terms, the process is to split the document into several copies, and every time the user gets a portion of the data, the corresponding fee is paid. Types of mines corresponding to Filecoin’s two major markets are miners and warehousers, among whom miners are primarily responsible for storing data and block packages, while miners are primarily responsible for data query. After the stable operation of the major Filecoin network in the future, the mining operator will be introduced, who is the main responsible for data maintenance.
In the initial release of Filecoin, the request matching mechanism was not implemented in the storage market and retrieval market, but the takeover mechanism was adopted. The three main parts of Filecoin correspond to three processes, namely the stored procedure, retrieval process, packaging and reward process. The following figure shows the simplified process and the income of the miners:
The Filecoin mining process is much more complicated, and the important factor in determining the previous mining profit is efficient storage. Effective storage is a key feature that distinguishes Filecoin from other decentralized storage projects. In Filecoin’s EC consensus, effective storage is similar to interest in PoS, which determines the likelihood that a miner will get the right to fill, that is, the proportion of miners effectively stored in the entire network is proportional to final mining revenue.
It is also possible to obtain higher effective storage under the same hardware conditions by improving the mining algorithm. However, the current increase in the number of benefits that can be achieved by improving the algorithm is still unknown.
It seeks to promote mining using Filecoin Discover
Filecoin announced Filecoin Discover — a step to encourage miners to join the Filecoin network. According to the company, Filecoin Discover is “an ever-growing catalog of numerous petabytes of public data covering literature, science, art, and history.” Miners interested in sharing can choose which data sets they want to store, and receive that data on a drive at a cost. In exchange for storing this verified data, miners will earn additional Filecoin above the regular block rewards for storing data. Includes the current catalog of open source data sets; ENCODE, 1000 Genomes, Project Gutenberg, Berkley Self-driving data, more projects, and datasets are added every day.
Ian Darrow, Head of Operations at Filecoin, commented on the announcement:
“Over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day. This data includes 294 billion emails, 500 million tweets and 64 billion messages on social media. But it is also climatology reports, disease tracking maps, connected vehicle coordinates and much more. It is extremely important that we maintain data that will serve as the backbone for future research and discovery”.
Miners who choose to participate in Filecoin Discover may receive hard drives pre-loaded with verified data, as well as setup and maintenance instructions, depending on the company. The Filecoin team will also host the Slack (fil-Discover-support) channel where miners can learn more.
Filecoin got its fair share of obstacles along the way. Last month Filecoin announced a further delay before its main network was officially launched — after years of raising funds.
In late July QEBR (OTC: QEBR) announced that it had ceded ownership of two subsidiaries in order to focus all of the company’s resources on building blockchain-based mining operations.
The QEBR technology team previously announced that it has proven its system as a Filecoin node valid with CPU, GPU, bandwidth and storage compatibility that meets all IPFS guidelines. The QEBR test system is connected to the main Filecoin blockchain and the already mined filecoin coin has already been tested.
“The disclosure of Sheen Boom and Jihye will allow our team to focus only on the upcoming global launch of Filecoin. QEBR branch, Shenzhen DZD Digital Technology Ltd. (“ DZD “), has a strong background in blockchain development, extraction Data, data acquisition, data processing, data technology research. We strongly believe Filecoin has the potential to be a leading blockchain-based cryptocurrency and will make every effort to make QEBR an important player when Mainecoin mainnet will be launched soon”.
IPFS and Filecoin
Filecoin and IPFS are complementary protocols for storing and sharing data in a decentralized network. While users are not required to use Filecoin and IPFS together, the two combined are working to resolve major failures in the current web infrastructure.
IPFS
It is an open source protocol that allows users to store and transmit verifiable data with each other. IPFS users insist on data on the network by installing it on their own device, to a third-party cloud service (known as Pinning Services), or through community-oriented systems where a group of individual IPFS users share resources to ensure the content stays live.
The lack of an integrated catalytic mechanism is the challenge Filecoin hopes to solve by allowing users to catalyze long-term distributed storage at competitive prices through the storage contract market, while maintaining the efficiency and flexibility that the IPFS network provides.
Using IPFS
In IPFS, the data is hosted by the required data installation nodes. For data to persist while the user node is offline, users must either rely on their other peers to install their data voluntarily or use a central install service to store data.
Peer-to-peer reliance caching data may be a good thing as one or multiple organizations share common files on an internal network, or where strong social contracts can be used to ensure continued hosting and preservation of content in the long run. Most users in an IPFS network use an installation service.
Using Filecoin
The last option is to install your data in a decentralized storage market, such as Filecoin. In Filecoin’s structure, customers make regular small payments to store data when a certain availability, while miners earn those payments by constantly checking the integrity of this data, storing it, and ensuring its quick recovery. This allows users to motivate Filecoin miners to ensure that their content will be live when it is needed, a distinct advantage of relying only on other network users as required using IPFS alone.
Filecoin, powered by IPFS
It is important to know that Filecoin is built on top of IPFS. Filecoin aims to be a very integrated and seamless storage market that takes advantage of the basic functions provided by IPFS, they are connected to each other, but can be implemented completely independently of each other. Users do not need to interact with Filecoin in order to use IPFS.
Some advantages of sharing Filecoin with IPFS:
Of all the decentralized storage projects, Filecoin is undoubtedly the most interested, and IPFS has been running stably for two years, fully demonstrating the strength of its core protocol.
Filecoin’s ability to obtain market share from traditional central storage depends on end-user experience and storage price. Currently, most Filecoin nodes are posted in the IDC room. Actual deployment and operation costs are not reduced compared to traditional central cloud storage, and the storage process is more complicated.
PoRep and PoSt, which has a large number of proofs of unknown operation, are required to cause the actual storage cost to be so, in the early days of the release of Filecoin. The actual cost of storing data may be higher than the cost of central cloud storage, but the initial storage node may reduce the storage price in order to obtain block rewards, which may result in the actual storage price lower than traditional central cloud storage.
In the long term, Filecoin still needs to take full advantage of its P2P storage, convert storage devices from specialization to civil use, and improve its algorithms to reduce storage costs without affecting user experience. The storage problem is an important problem to be solved in the blockchain field, so a large number of storage projects were presented at the 19th Web3 Summit. IPFS is an important part of Web3 visibility. Its development will affect the development of Web3 to some extent. Likewise, Web3 development somewhat determines the future of IPFS. Filecoin is an IPFS-based storage class project initiated by IPFS. There is no doubt that he is highly expected.
Resources :
  1. https://www.coindesk.com/filecoin-pushes-back-final-testing-phase-announces-calibration-period-for-miners
  2. https://docs.filecoin.io/mine/#types-of-miners https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/inside-the-craze-for-filecoin-crypto-mining-in-china-2020-07-12؟amp
  3. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/qebr-streamlines-holdings-to-concentrate-on-filecoin-development-and-mining-301098731.html
  4. https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2020/05/161200-filecoin-seeks-to-boost-mining-with-filecoin-discove
  5. https://zephyrnet.com/filecoin-seeks-to-boost-mining-with-filecoin-discove
  6. https://docs.filecoin.io/introduction/ipfs-and-filecoin/#filecoin-powered-by-ipfs
submitted by CoinEx_Institution to filecoin [link] [comments]

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What the heck is this bitcoin? Bitcoin 101 Ep1

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