Alpha functions as a sidechain to Bitcoins testnet. The peg mechanism currently works through a centralized protocol adapter, as stated in the sidechains whitepaper. An auditable federation of signers manages Testnet coins transferred to the sidechain. The federation is also relied upon to produce blocks through the signed blocks element. This creates the possibility of exploring the possibilities of the new chain using different security trade-offs.
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Structure Side chains are independent blockchains that have a kind of "pegging mechanism", where at least one of the chains (main chain and side chain) is "aware" of the other chain and both tokens are pegged at a set ratio. Side chains need their own network security and block processing. "Child Chains" of the Ardor platform are tightly integrated into the main Ardor parent chain. All transactions are processed and secured by the parent chain forgers. This makes cross-chain transactions possible. Pruning will be enabled on child chain transactions in order to significantly reduce blockchain bloat by pruning the transactions on regular basis from the blockchain.
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.
Plasma is a proposed framework for incentivized and enforced execution of smart contracts which is scalable to a significant amount of state updates per second (potentially billions) enabling the blockchain to be able to represent a significant amount of decentralized financial applications worldwide. These smart contracts are incentivized to continue operation autonomously via network transaction fees, which is ultimately reliant upon the underlying blockchain (e.g. Ethereum) to enforce transactional state transitions.
Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains use the ‘proof of work’ (POW) consensus algorithm to provide maximum security. It relies on a process called ‘mining’, which involves nodes trying to find the cryptographic hash of the last recorded block in order to create a new block. This is a massive number-crunching operation. It’s computing-power and energy-intensive, and becomes increasingly costly as the blockchain length grows. Read more about POW in this article “Proof of work vs proof of stake comparison”. This makes such blockchains impractical in a large business context.
Let’s switch gears quickly before we get back to talking about trust mechanisms. We’ll define what a “smart contract” is. The first blockchain that was popularized is obviously the Bitcoin blockchain. But the functionality of Bitcoin is very limited. All it can do is record transaction information. It’s only useful to keep track of the fact that Alice sent Bob 1 Bitcoin.
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Write permissions are kept centralized to one organization. Read permissions may be public or restricted to an arbitrary extent. Example applications include database management, auditing, etc. which are internal to a single company, and so public readability may in many cases not be necessary at all. In other cases public audit ability is desired. Private blockchains are a way of taking advantage of blockchain technology by setting up groups and participants who can verify transactions internally. This puts you at the risk of security breaches just like in a centralized system, as opposed to public blockchain secured by game theoretic incentive mechanisms. However, private blockchains have their use case, especially when it comes to scalability and state compliance of data privacy rules and other regulatory issues. They have certain security advantages, and other security disadvantages (as stated before).
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.
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