In general, so far there has been little emphasis on the distinction between consortium blockchains and fully private blockchains, although it is important: the former provides a hybrid between the “low-trust” provided by public blockchains and the “single highly-trusted entity” model of private blockchains, whereas the latter can be more accurately described as a traditional centralized system with a degree of cryptographic auditability attached. However, to some degree there is good reason for the focus on consortium over private: the fundamental value of blockchains in a fully private context, aside from the replicated state machine functionality, is cryptographic authentication, and there is no reason to believe that the optimal format of such authentication provision should consist of a series of hash-linked data packets containing Merkle tree roots; generalized zero knowledge proof technology provides a much broader array of exciting possibilities about the kinds of cryptographic assurances that applications can provide their users. In general, I would even argue that generalized zero-knowledge-proofs are, in the corporate financial world, greatly underhyped compared to private blockchains.
“The consortium or company running a private blockchain can easily, if desired, change the rules of a blockchain, revert transactions, modify balances, etc. In some cases, e.g. national land registries, this functionality is necessary; there is no way a system would be allowed to exist where Dread Pirate Roberts can have legal ownership rights over a plainly visible piece of land, and so an attempt to create a government-uncontrollable land registry would in practice quickly devolve into one that is not recognized by the government itself….
^ Jump up to: a b c d Bhaskar, Nirupama Devi; Chuen, David Lee Kuo (2015). "3 – Bitcoin Mining Technology". In Cheun, David Lee Kuo. Handbook of Digital Currency: Bitcoin, Innovation, Financial Instruments, and Big Data. Academic Press. pp. 47–51. ISBN 978-0-12-802117-0. Archived from the original on 25 October 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2016 – via ScienceDirect.
Another promise of sidechains is the ability to have a stronger and faster mainchain, as transactions can happen on one of the sidechains. If users or developers are dissatisfied with the costs of sending a transaction and the transaction speed of the mainchain, they can use and or deploy their dapp on one of the sidechains. This leads to a more diversified network and a stronger, faster and more robust mainchain.
There are promising works in sidechains like there can be transactions at higher speed and volume. For example micropayments can be done directly with minimal fee by using Lightning Network side chain. You won't have to wait for 10 minutes for miners to create a block. Or we can have privacy in our transactions by Zerocash side chain. If you want privacy, you send your bitcoin to sidechain and use Zerocash protocol for sending bitcoin to your recipient. This protocol makes your transaction not to be seen in the transaction history, at the same time it won't damage the integrity and security of the Bitcoin. If you use Zerocash protocol in your sidechain, you cannot be tracked anymore. By the way, test results say that its performance is very poor now, but I believe it will be better in the near future.
A big thanks to Diego Salvador for helping me write this episode. Him and the rest of the team over at Rootstock are doing fantastic work with cryptocurrency and Sidechains. We wish them all the best. I'll be sure to leave a link to their website in the top of the description so you can go check it out and learn more if you wish. And as always, be sure to subscribe and I will see you next time.
Step back from the details for moment and consider what’s been described. We now have a way to move coins from Bitcoin onto another platform (a sidechain) and move them back again. That’s pretty much what we do when we move them to a wallet platform or an exchange. The difference is that the “platform” they’ve been moved to is also a blockchain… so it has the possibility of decentralised security, visibility and to gain from other innovation in this space.
Imagine there is a Bitcoin-like system out there that you’d like to use. Perhaps it’s litecoin or ethereum or perhaps it’s something brand new. Maybe it has a faster block confirmation interval and a richer scripting language. It doesn’t matter. The point is: you’d like to use it but would rather not have to go through the risk and effort of buying the native tokens for that platform. You have Bitcoins already. Why can’t you use them?
First, clear your head of anything related to money, currency or payments. And clear your head of the word ledger, too. The mind-bending secret of Bitcoin is that there actually isn’t a ledger! The only data structures that matter are transactions and blocks of transactions. And it’s important to get this clear in your head if sidechains are going to make sense.
Jump up ^ Epstein, Jim (6 May 2016). "Is Blockchain Technology a Trojan Horse Behind Wall Street's Walled Garden?". Reason. Archived from the original on 8 July 2016. Retrieved 29 June 2016. mainstream misgivings about working with a system that's open for anyone to use. Many banks are partnering with companies building so-called private blockchains that mimic some aspects of Bitcoin's architecture except they're designed to be closed off and accessible only to chosen parties. ... [but some believe] that open and permission-less blockchains will ultimately prevail even in the banking sector simply because they're more efficient.
A blockchain is a decentralized, distributed and public digital ledger that is used to record transactions across many computers so that the record cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and the consensus of the network. This allows the participants to verify and audit transactions inexpensively. A blockchain database is managed autonomously using a peer-to-peer network and a distributed timestamping server. They are authenticated by mass collaboration powered by collective self-interests. The result is a robust workflow where participants' uncertainty regarding data security is marginal. The use of a blockchain removes the characteristic of infinite reproducibility from a digital asset. It confirms that each unit of value was transferred only once, solving the long-standing problem of double spending. Blockchains have been described as a value-exchange protocol. This blockchain-based exchange of value can be completed quicker, safer and cheaper than with traditional systems. A blockchain can assign title rights because, when properly set up to detail the exchange agreement, it provides a record that compels offer and acceptance.
“Further, contribution is weighted by computational power rather than one threshold signature contribution per party, which allows anonymous membership without risk of a Sybil attack (when one party joins many times and has disproportionate input into the signature). For this reason, the DMMS has also been described as a solution to the Byzantine Generals Problem[AJK05].”
In some cases, these advantages are unneeded, but in others they are quite powerful - powerful enough to be worth 3x longer confirmation times and paying $0.03 for a transaction (or, once scalability technology comes into play, $0.0003 for a transaction). Note that by creating privately administered smart contracts on public blockchains, or cross-chain exchange layers between public and private blockchains, one can achieve many kinds of hybrid combinations of these properties. The solution that is optimal for a particular industry depends very heavily on what your exact industry is. In some cases, public is clearly better; in others, some degree of private control is simply necessary. As is often the case in the real world, it depends.
Sidechains as an idea have existed and had been floating around for quite some time now, the bases is to extend the decentralization of trust into other sectors and to other digital assets. However, while this all sounds great it's a perfect example of good in theory but not so much in practice. Nevertheless, this hasn't stopped people from trying with groups such as Blockstream exploring the idea and our friends over at Rootstock co-creating a Sidechain which is allowing Litecoin and Bitcoin to execute smart contracts and all without changing the core software of the original currency.
My chief concern is not with the concept of side chains per se (yet). I have still much to learn about how they are being considered. I am only concerned with the way the concept is being presented here. However, I am sure that much of this was due to space restrictions as much as anything. The concept of side chains is an intriguing one. It is also clearly attempting to address a major problem with the whole Bitcoin scheme- namely the verification latency it introduces for transactions. This is only one of the hurdles facing Bitcoins acceptance into the world of commerce, but it is a considerable one.
Blockchain, trust, decentralization, Bitcoin, transparency, anonymity, blockchain, blockchain, blockchain. These words seem to appear randomly on the Web regardless the theme of an article you read. Don’t you know how to implement blockchain in art? There’s definitely someone who can tell you. Do you wonder how banking can benefit from blockchain? No worries, some projects already do it – just search for the use cases.
Sidechains solve a lot of problems, but at what cost? The introduction of sidechains makes things even more complex and much harder to understand for those who are not actively involved in the blockchain space. This also divides assets, no more “one chain, one asset” adage, which further complicates things. And on a network level there are multiple independent unsynchronised blockchains interacting with each other.
The paper outlines some critical developments and associated problems that were both currently trending and forward-thinking at the time, many of them still very much relevant today. At the time, altcoins were quickly gaining prominence and the problems associated with their volatility, security, and lack of interoperability with Bitcoin raised concerns. The paper primarily addressed 6 issues that pegged sidechains aimed to provide a solution:
– A consensus much faster: the fact that the consensus mechanism is centralized makes it much quicker. In fact, the term “consensus” is no longer adapted since it is rather a recording of transactions on the blockchain. Note that the entity responsible for managing the blockchain can decide to change the parameters of the blockchain and in particular to increase the size of the blocks to be able to add more transactions.
I have a hard time swallowing that Bitcoin “isn’t a ledger”. That’s like saying “Bitcoin isn’t the blockchain”, and if you take the blockchain away from Bitcoin, you aren’t really left with much (including, sidechains). Perhaps Bitcoin isn’t a ledger *from the perspective* of individual transactions, but by the same logic, nothing that isn’t transaction data is.
Since extension blocks can be implemented via soft forks, the features of the extension blocks are essentially opt-in for users. Even in the case of extension blocks with a larger block size limit, users are not forced to upgrade and validate or propagate blocks that are much larger in size. Those who wish to enjoy the level of decentralization offered by 1MB blocks can continue to do so, while those who would like to experiment with much larger block size limits can do so on an opt-in basis.
Are there any legitimate uses for it? Possibly, if you have an institution that can’t establish legal relationship between them. I am not sure where can we find this use case in the wild; most corporations and institutions usually thrive on the legal documents they have signed in order to keep each other from lying/hiding/deleting/changing data. Since each institution can keep the local copy of all transactions within their own database, the question becomes a matter of dispute resolution, as opposed to a lack of trust.
Unfortunately our second option cannot be done yet, because to use these sidechains, main chain (here it is bitcoin) needs to do some upgrade (soft fork). By the way, upgrades in public blockchains are very painful yet. There will be a user activated soft fork (UASF) on August 1. All bitcoin forms’ trend topic is this soft fork which is about a code change for Segregated Witness Adoption.
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Consortium blockchains: a consortium blockchain is a blockchain where the consensus process is controlled by a pre-selected set of nodes; for example, one might imagine a consortium of 15 financial institutions, each of which operates a node and of which 10 must sign every block in order for the block to be valid. The right to read the blockchain may be public, or restricted to the participants, and there are also hybrid routes such as the root hashes of the blocks being public together with an API that allows members of the public to make a limited number of queries and get back cryptographic proofs of some parts of the blockchain state. These blockchains may be considered "partially decentralized".
Sidechains are an essential innovation in the blockchain field with some interesting long-term implications and effects on the broader interoperability and scalability of blockchain networks. They are effectively extensions of existing blockchains that increase their functionality and allow for validation of data from other blockchains and for assets to be seamlessly transferred between them.
The Bitcoin White Paper was published by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008; the first Bitcoin block got mined in 2009. Since the Bitcoin protocol is open source, anyone could take the protocol, fork it (modify the code), and start their own version of P2P money. Many so-called altcoins emerged and tried to be a better, faster or more anonymous than Bitcoin. Soon the code was not only altered to create better cryptocurrencies, but some projects also tried to alter the idea of blockchain beyond the use case of P2P money.
“Not only is decentralization, open protocols, open source, collaborative development and living in the wild a feature of Bitcoin, that’s the whole point. And if you take a permissioned ledger and say, that’s all nice, we like the database part of it, can we have it without the open decentralized P2P [peer-to-peer] open source non-controlled distributed nature of it, well you just threw out the baby with the bathwater.”