Put simply, sidechaining is any mechanism that allows tokens from one blockchain to be securely used within a completely separate blockchain but still moved back to the original chain if necessary. By convention the original chain is normally referred to as the "main chain", while any additional blockchains which allow users to transact within them in the tokens of the main chain are referred to as "sidechains". For example, a private Ethereum-based network that had a linkage allowing ether to be securely moved from the public Ethereum main chain onto it and back would be considered to be a sidechain of the public network.
^ 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.
For example, let’s say we have side chain 1 (SC1) and side chain 2 (SC2). A transaction occurs on SC1. A node in SC1 broadcasts the transaction to nodes in the main chain to record this transaction. The same node of SC1 calls a function from SC2 with a proof. The function in the nodes of SC2 verifies the proof on the main chain. The function gets executed.

Congratulations! You’ve just educated yourself on the most common advanced topics in blockchain that you’ll hear about. By understanding these concepts, you have a firmer grasp on the fundamental tradeoffs and latest research on the blockchain than most industry “experts”! Better yet, next time you hear your colleagues around the water cooler talking about state channels, the Lightning Network and Byzantine fault tolerance, not only will you know what they’re talking about but you might be able to teach them a thing or two!


The information on every public blockchain is subsequently replicated to sometimes thousands of nodes on the network. No one power administers it centrally, hence, hackers can’t destroy the network by crippling one central server. Read this article “What is Blockchain technology? A step-by-step Guide For Beginners”, for a more detailed description of the technology.

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Further, despite sidechains being independent of each other, they are responsible for their individual security and need the requisite mining power to remain secure. Bitcoin’s blockchain has sufficient PoW mining power to remain secure even from the most coordinated of attacks, but many more nascent sidechains lack the necessary network effects and mining power to guarantee security to users.
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!

That is however not all. Sidechains also have some specific use cases, unique to a certain blockchain. One example is the usage of sidechains in EOS. EOS is currently facing a RAM problem. RAM is too expensive and developers are complaining. Sidechains could compete with the EOS mainchain by having lower RAM prices, this would lead to competition, incentivizing both the EOS mainchain block producers and sidechain block producers (mainchain and sidechains of EOS are maintained by the same group of block producers) to keep the RAM price as low as possible. This also means there is more RAM available, so the RAM price will go down as a result.
@quinn – thanks for the comment. I probably didn’t write clearly enough… I was trying to point out that none of the higher-level concepts we’re familiar with (addresses, bitcoins, the “ledger”, etc) actually exist at the protocol level…. it’s just transactions, transaction outputs, unspent transaction outputs, etc… they combine to create the illusion we’re all familiar with.
In order to spend them, you have to prove you’re entitled to do so. And you do that by providing the solution to a challenge that was laid down when they were sent to you in the first place. This challenge is usually just: “prove to the world that you know the public key that corresponds to a particular Bitcoin address and are in possession of the corresponding private key”. But it can be more sophisticated than that.
The “three-part” transaction structure is very general but it only allows you to transfer ownership of Bitcoins. Some people would like to transmit richer forms of information across these sorts of systems. For example, a decentralized exchange needs a way for participants to place orders. Projects such as Mastercoin, Counterparty, NXT and others either build layers on top of Bitcoin or use entirely different codebases to achieve their goals.

“Private blockchains are valuable to solve efficiency, security and fraud problems within traditional financial institutions, but only incrementally. Private blockchains will not 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.” 


The NPD report noted IBM is partnering with nine retailers and food companies (Walmart, Unilever, Nestle, Dole, Tyson Foods, Golden State Foods, McCormick & Co., McLane Co., and Driscoll’s) to revamp data management processes with blockchain. Walmart uses blockchain in China to source its pork all the way from the pig to the customer. This enables the retailers to provide transparency to all the players along the supply chain.
Jump up ^ Kopfstein, Janus (12 December 2013). "The Mission to Decentralize the Internet". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on 31 December 2014. Retrieved 30 December 2014. The network's 'nodes'—users running the bitcoin software on their computers—collectively check the integrity of other nodes to ensure that no one spends the same coins twice. All transactions are published on a shared public ledger, called the 'block chain.'
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Blockchain-based smart contracts are proposed contracts that could be partially or fully executed or enforced without human interaction.[55] One of the main objectives of a smart contract is automated escrow. An IMF staff discussion reported that smart contracts based on blockchain technology might reduce moral hazards and optimize the use of contracts in general. But "no viable smart contract systems have yet emerged." Due to the lack of widespread use their legal status is unclear.[56]
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