If you’ve been keeping track of developments in the bitcoin industry, you’d know that the blockchain refers to the public ledger of transactions associated with the cryptocurrency. As the bitcoin ecosystem has grown in size and scale throughout the years, the blockchain has also increased considerably in length and storage size, prompting debates on whether or not to increase its block size limit.
^ Jump up to: a b c d e f g h i j k l "Blockchains: The great chain of being sure about things". The Economist. 31 October 2015. Archived from the original on 3 July 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2016. The technology behind bitcoin lets people who do not know or trust each other build a dependable ledger. This has implications far beyond the crypto currency.
In September 2015, the first peer-reviewed academic journal dedicated to cryptocurrency and blockchain technology research, Ledger, was announced. The inaugural issue was published in December 2016. The journal covers aspects of mathematics, computer science, engineering, law, economics and philosophy that relate to cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.
The Loom Network recently released their SDK which supports what they call “Dappchains,” an Ethereum layer-2 sidechain solution with each sidechain comprised of their own DPoS consensus mechanism. This enables highly scalable dapps, specifically games built using their tools. Loom emphasizes the earlier comment about sidechains enabling innovation in scalability, rather than providing it directly. Loom’s sidechains have their own set of rules and are used to offload computation from the primary Ethereum chain. Their sidechains are application-specific, meaning that they enable highly scalable dapps through an efficient consensus mechanism and can periodically be settled on the main Ethereum chain depending on their security needs. You can find more information on their model here.
The second option will be to use sidechains. Blockstream first announced side chain in 2014 and published its whitepaper (https://blockstream.com/sidechai...). I believe in the future, bitcoin will have its desired flexibility with its sidechains. The idea of the sidechain is you can innovate and design your solution freely in the sidechains. These sidechains are independent, if they are failed or hacked, they won't damage other chains. So damage will be limited within that chain, for that reason you can be less conservative. Otherwise you would be more risk averse, if you had 42.5 billion dollar market cap like Bitcoin.
Sidechain transactions using a two-way peg effectively only allow for intra-chain transactions. A transfer from Bitcoin (parent chain) to Ethereum (sidechain) would allow a user to use the functionality of Ethereum (i.e., fully expressive smart contracts), but the underlying original asset would remain precisely that, Bitcoin. So, a Bitcoin on an Ethereum sidechain technically remains a Bitcoin.
Sidechains are responsible for their own security. If there isn’t enough mining power to secure a sidechain, it could be hacked. Since each sidechain is independent, if it is hacked or compromised, the damage will be contained within that chain and won’t affect the main chain. Conversely, should the main chain become compromised, the sidechain can still operate, but the peg will lose most of its value.
Instead of adding new features directly to the bitcoin blockchain, sidechains allow developers to attach new features to a separate chain. Since the chains are still attached to the bitcoin blockchain, the features can take advantage of the cryptocurrency's network effects and test those applications, without harming the main network should vulnerabilities arise.
Public blockchains are open, and therefore are likely to be used by very many entities and gain some network effects. To give a particular example, consider the case of domain name escrow. Currently, if A wants to sell a domain to B, there is the standard counterparty risk problem that needs to be resolved: if A sends first, B may not send the money, and if B sends first then A might not send the domain. To solve this problem, we have centralized escrow intermediaries, but these charge fees of three to six percent. However, if we have a domain name system on a blockchain, and a currency on the same blockchain, then we can cut costs to near-zero with a smart contract: A can send the domain to a program which immediately sends it to the first person to send the program money, and the program is trusted because it runs on a public blockchain. Note that in order for this to work efficiently, two completely heterogeneous asset classes from completely different industries must be on the same database - not a situation which can easily happen with private ledgers. Another similar example in this category is land registries and title insurance, although it is important to note that another route to interoperability is to have a private chain that the public chain can verify, btcrelay-style, and perform transactions cross-chain.
The sidechains vision of the future is of a vast globe-spanning decentralized network of many blockchains, an intertwined cable rather than a single strand, each with its own protocol, rules, and features — but all of them backed by Bitcoin, and protected by the Bitcoin mining network, as the US dollar was once backed by gold. Sidechains can also be used to prototype changes to the fundamental Bitcoin blockchain. One catch, though: this will require a small tweak to the existing Bitcoin protocol.
By the end of this post, you’ll be able to freely participate in conversations like the above. This is not a coding tutorial, as we’ll just be presenting important concepts at a high level. However, we may follow up with programming tutorials on these ideas. This article will be helpful to both programmers and non-programmers alike. Let’s get going!
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Private blockchains are valuable for solving efficiency, security and fraud problems within traditional financial institutions, but only incrementally. It’s not very likely that private blockchains will revolutionize the financial system. Public blockchains, however, hold the potential to replace most functions of traditional financial institutions with software, fundamentally reshaping the way the financial system works.
Since 2008 when Satoshi Nakamoto published a white paper considering Bitcoin and blockchain technology, the latter gained fame as a tool for combating trust issues and bringing transparency to transactions between independent participants. Even though a decade passed, for a lay public, blockchain is still not the easiest concept to deal with. As a rule, people generalize things they don’t understand deeply in detail. Thus, when they hear “blockchain,” they tend to think there’s just one transcendental blockchain that hosts thousands of projects. But it’s a wrong perception as there are numerous blockchains and they differ.
As we’ve talked about, writing to the blockchain is slow and expensive. This is because every node in the entire network needs to verify and slurp in the whole blockchain and all the data it contains. Executing a large smart contract on a blockchain can be prohibitively expensive, and doing things like storing images on blockchains is economically infeasible.
A private blockchain network requires an invitation and must be validated by either the network starter or by a set of rules put in place by the network starter. Businesses who set up a private blockchain, will generally set up a permissioned network. This places restrictions on who is allowed to participate in the network, and only in certain transactions. Participants need to obtain an invitation or permission to join. The access control mechanism could vary: existing participants could decide future entrants; a regulatory authority could issue licenses for participation; or a consortium could make the decisions instead. Once an entity has joined the network, it will play a role in maintaining the blockchain in a decentralized manner.