In the world of blockchains, there are two common ways to expand capacity: chain and chain expansion, also known as layer-1 and layer-2 expansion. The former modifies the blockchain protocol through hard forks to directly increase the block capacity. The latter is completely opposite. It does not affect the blockchain protocol. It is indirectly realized by other technical means. The isolation witness and lightning network are typical representatives. .
So have you heard about layer-0 expansion? This model, similar to the Content Distribution Network (CDN), is bringing a glimpse of the increasingly serious blockchain expansion.
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The traditional Internet is also facing the bottleneck of data transmission speed and stability. The emergence of CDN makes content transmission faster and more stable. Video websites such as YouTube, which we are familiar with, are users of this technology. By placing a node server, CDN builds a layer of virtual network on top of the existing Internet, which solves the problem of network congestion and speeds up users' access to the website.
The same is true for layer-0 expansion. A layer of network is built on the blockchain protocol, which avoids the large amount of time required to synchronize all nodes when processing a large number of TPS, and solves the scalability bottleneck. At present, blockchain companies that focus on layer-0 expansion only have bloXroute.
(Prof. Aleksandar Kuzmanovic)
Babbitt interviewed Professor Aleksandar Kuzmanovic, co-founder and chief architect of bloXroute, and hoped that he would give us more inspiration in the blockchain expansion. Professor Kuzmanovic is the co-founder of the Measurement Lab at Google's laboratory and has participated in several projects of CDN provider Akamai. He is an expert in network neutrality.
In an interview, he said that the blockchain distribution network proposed by bloXroute can achieve 1000 times capacity expansion, allowing Bitcoin to process 1000 transactions per second. So does this mean that the layer-1 and layer-2 schemes are not important? In fact, Professor Kuzmanovic believes that layer-0, layer-1 and layer-2 can perform their own functions to maximize block expansion.
The following is the full text of the interview, organized by Babbitt, and made a deletion without changing the original intention:
8btc: Is bloXroute doing the same now with Akamai?
Aleksandar Kuzmanovic: We like Akamai, who calls itself the blockchain world, but what we do is very different from Akamai. At a higher level, our goal is to be consistent, sending data to end users faster. But there are many differences between us. First, the content they provide for services is web pages and video streams. For example, there are a lot of video files on platforms like YouTube, and some people may want to download files 10 years ago. Instead, what we do in the blockchain world is to optimize or accelerate the speed of block propagation. We focus on latency issues, but the data we entered a few years ago is not the focus of the blockchain world.
In the blockchain world, we are concerned with current transactions and want to distribute them quickly so that we can deliver them to end users more quickly when they are generated. So, although we got a lot of inspiration from Akamai (the technology) – our consultants come from Akamai, I personally worked for Akamai's project for a while, but our blockchain distribution network ( Blockchain Distribution Network) is different from traditional content distribution networks. 8btc: What can we learn from CDN about blockchain expansion?
Aleksandar Kuzmanovic: In fact, many of the technologies we use are built over several years and draw on some of the existing technology. But we also face a lot of new problems, such as transaction delays and block-related issues. Therefore, we have also created new technologies while drawing on from the existing technology, which also shows the difference between us and Akamai.
8btc: You have proposed the concept of a blockchain distribution network in your own article. This concept is very interesting, can you talk about it briefly?
Aleksandar Kuzmanovic: BDN (Block Chain Distribution Network) is the blockchain content distribution network (BDN), mainly to improve the capacity expansion of existing blockchains. At this stage, Bitcoin handles 3 transactions per second, and Ethereum is 10 strokes. Although there is a lot of discussion around the expansion of the blockchain, there are not many people who actually know how to expand in the real world.
BDN can increase the blockchain capacity by a factor of 1000. How do we do this? The first thing we do is to compress the transactions and send shorter IDs by transmitting the transactions in the system. For example, suppose a bitcoin transaction is 500 bytes in size, and in our system its size can be compressed to 4 bytes. This is critical because it is optimized over 100 times in capacity compared to existing blockchains.
We have demonstrated how the 300 nodes in the system are distributed in the US, China, and Europe. We can prove how to achieve blockchain expansion, not just talk. We distribute our nodes around the world, investing a lot of resources and time in it, and we do allow Bitcoin to process more than 1,000 transactions per second. We are currently developing a larger test network with more than 1000 nodes and we will achieve the goal of 2000 transactions per second. 8btc: How to prevent BDN node failure or evil?
Aleksandar Kuzmanovic: An important part of BDN is the verable network neutrality. I am a computer scientist and my area of expertise is network neutrality, so we have long noticed this problem. The key to bloXroute is the verifiable neutral design, and we can prove to the blockchain ecosystem that our system is not doing evil. Once there is a bad situation, they can easily detect the problem. We also have an alternate network solution that will be held by different blockchain communities (also bloXroute users) to prevent any problems or malicious activities on the bloXroute node.
If there is a problem with the blockchain node or malicious traffic, we also have a corresponding prevention mechanism, so our system is very flexible.
In general, what we did was to follow the PoW and PoS concepts in the blockchain network. For example, if we find that a node is a miner, they send us real blocks, we can give these miners enough resources to ensure the normal operation of the network, thus preventing DoS attacks. 8btc: What are your current partners in the Bitcoin community?
Aleksandar Kuzmanovic: At this stage we mainly work with miners. We have an open source gateway software for miners. Once the miners get our code, the gateway software can help them interact with the Bitcoin blockchain node while communicating with the bloXroute network. These codes are free, and even without any expansion technology, network performance and speed can be improved, and miners can receive transactions and send blocks faster. At the same time we are also communicating with some blockchain projects.
8btc: There are not a few existing expansion schemes on the chain and under the chain. In your opinion, why are there no more effective solutions available today?
Aleksandar Kuzmanovic: When bloXroute was just getting started, I realized that expansion is an important issue for the blockchain community. Later I saw a lot of blockchain projects online, most of which claimed to be able to support a large number of transactions. But when you look at their network status, you will find that their traffic is small and there is no expansion at all. So I think most of them are unable to deliver on their promises, which is one of the problems. In addition, if you really want to expand, many blockchain projects will have to make compromises. A single server can handle a large number of transactions, but it is difficult to decentralize and expand at the same time. We can do both, we access a large number of nodes in the network to achieve decentralization, while helping users achieve capacity expansion.
However, I think more and more viable options are already available. Some of these programs are right, such as sharding and layer-2, but the transition from the theoretical phase to the actual deployment is no easy task. Therefore, I think this is the reason why many chain and chain expansion plans have not been implemented. 8btc: When it comes to chain expansion, the lightning network is very representative. How do you think about this technology?
Aleksandar Kuzmanovic: Lightning Network is a layer-2 solution. In fact, I have been asked this question many times. Someone asked me if we are competing with the lightning network. What I want to say is that the chain expansion scheme is useful in some cases. Assuming that I need to trade frequently with you, it makes sense to establish a channel between us. We can transfer funds multiple times without having to record it on the chain every time.
But in some cases, the lightning network is not a panacea, which is why the blockchain was born. If I don't know you, I can't trade a large amount of money with you. So for me to establish a channel, invest resources to trade with you, and then record the transaction on the chain, this process is meaningless.
I think that layer-0, layer-1 and layer-2 expansion schemes are necessary, because all three have their uses. Therefore, I think that the projects involving these three levels are justified, but the three are definitely not competitive.
The lightning network does have shortcomings, but I am trying to avoid talking about it. I think this is an attempt. I don't want to make a big blow. What I want to say is that everything needs to be paid in order to have results. Once a large number of entities are deposited in the lightning network and a large amount of funds are deposited, an independent ecosystem will be formed. Facing its own problems, there may be problems such as centralization or inefficiency. But I don't want to be the one to comment on. I hope that the lightning network can develop freely, and its ultimate goal is good. 8btc: In addition to technical problems, what do you think is blocking the blockchain expansion?
Aleksandar Kuzmanovic: This is a good question. This question makes me sleepless at night. We are working on a blockchain expansion plan, but we also observed that the blockchain system has insufficient traffic. In my opinion, blockchain is more than just money transfer and electronic money. People should probably consider this when they find that the blockchain system is running low.
Many people think this way: Visa has 5,000 transactions per second, and Bitcoin does not. There is a huge gap between them. How to make up for it? I think that hundreds of transactions per second can be achieved, but no one is using it. This is a problem faced by many Internet protocols.
To answer this question, we must go deep into the technology. There are many automated processes that require blockchain technology, which can create hundreds of transactions.
I think the blockchain should be everywhere, which is necessary because ordinary users don't care about technology. They just want to use technology without any hindrance, so the less they know about technology, the more happy they are. Go to use. But the blockchain can indeed play a role in many places, such as lifting people's concerns about privacy issues, which are common problems for big companies like Facebook. So I think there are many ways in which the blockchain goes mainstream, but this technology should indeed be invisible and become a 'backend architecture'. 8btc: Recently we have seen an example of the blockchain going mainstream, Libra's release. Do you think Libra can fill the gap between the mainstream world and the cryptocurrency world? Or will it only make the differences between the two bigger and bigger?
Aleksandar Kuzmanovic: First of all, I understand why the cryptocurrency community doesn't welcome Facebook. I can also be one of the critics. There are many slots. For example, should the elite control the blockchain? Does it contain something new? I haven't seen it yet. Is 1000 TPS enough? I do not think so.
But aside from these topics, I think this is a good thing for the cryptocurrency world, and mainstream companies are entering. Prior to this, blockchain companies tried to disrupt large companies by building different applications. Now, large companies realize that cryptocurrency is valuable.
Some people may say that large companies will take away everything, but I don’t think so. I think the blockchain ecology is bigger than what their projects are trying to achieve. (Libra) can drive the entry of other large companies, but not all companies can make their own cryptocurrency. I think it's more likely that many large companies will build applications based on existing technologies in the cryptocurrency world. I think this will eventually lead to more users, which will have a positive impact on the entire blockchain ecosystem.