On Stake

The topic of mining centralization has been a very important one over the past few weeks. GHASH.io, the Bitcoin network’s largest mining pool, has for the past month directed over 40% of the Bitcoin network’s hashpower, and two weeks ago briefly spiked over 50%, theoretically giving it monopoly control over the Bitcoin network. Although miners quidkly left the pool and reduced its hashpower to 35%, it’s clear that the problem is not solved. At the same time, ASICs threaten to... [Read More]

Advanced Contract Programming Example: SchellingCoin

Writing effective decentralized applications in Ethereum is at the same time easy and hard. The easy part we all know: rather than needing to create your own blockchain, manage complicated database code, deal with networking and NAT traversal, or any of the other complexities involving writing a peer-to-peer app from scratch, you can write code in a simple, high-level programming language like Serpent or Mutan (or LLL if you prefer mucking around a bit lower-level), with the simplicity of a... [Read More]

On Mining

Decentralization, n. The security assumption that a nineteen year old in Hangzhou and someone who is maybe in the UK, and maybe not, have not yet decided to collude with each other. There has been a large amount of ruckus in the past week about the issue of mining centralization in the Bitcoin network. We saw a single mining pool, GHash.io, amass over 45% hashpower for many hours, and at one point even grow to become 51% of the entire... [Read More]

Ethereum Project Update

Development of the Ethereum project has gone very well over the months since inception.  The core activity — development of the software platform — is on track and many developers around the world are starting to build small, exploratory distributed applications on the platform, even though we are still not yet in alpha release. The 5th installment of the proof of concept series will be released soon, though many community members download the developing source code, compile it and use... [Read More]

What If Ethereum Lived on a Treap? Or, Blockchains Charging Rent

Although truly solving blockchain scalability fundamentally, that is to say figuring out a solution to the problem that every node must process every transaction, is a very hard problem, and all suggested solutions rely on either highly advanced cryptography or intricate multi-blockchain architectures, partial solutions that provide a constant-factor improvement over the way Bitcoin does things are actually quite easy to find. In Ethereum, for example, we have the concept of a separate state tree and transaction history, allowing miners... [Read More]

On Long-Term Cryptocurrency Distribution Models

One of the challenges when creating a new cryptocurrency is figuring out what the distribution model is going to be. Who is going to receive the currency units, at what time, and what is the mechanism that decides? Despite the crucial importance of this question, there has actually been comparatively little thought into the issue compared with other aspects of currency, like consensus algorithms and feature sets. The question is particularly challenging because, just like many other problems in the... [Read More]

Long-Range Attacks: The Serious Problem With Adaptive Proof of Work

Our current proof of work design, blockchain-based proof of work, is the second iteration of our attempt to create a mining algorithm that is guaranteed to remain CPU-friendly and resistant to optimization by specialized hardware (ASICs) in the long term. Our first attempt, Dagger, tried to take the idea of memory-hard algorithms like Scrypt one step further by creating an algorithm which is memory-hard to compute, but memory-easy to verify, using directed acyclic graphs (basically, trees where each node has... [Read More]

The Xbox and Ethereum’s Dual Mandate

The Necessity to Build and Launch an Ecosystem on Genesis Day Imagine if Microsoft released the Xbox and there were no games. On the day on which the Ethereum genesis block is created, many of the elements of the ecosystem — core infrastructure, mining network, user app browser and applications — will be in place.  Granted there will be an enormous amount of development to do beyond the genesis to craft Ethereum into a sophisticated, decentralized consensus (decentcon) application platform.... [Read More]

What is Ethereum? Project, Platform, Fuel, Stack.

What is Ethereum, the Project? The Ethereum Project is an open source, community-driven effort designed to create a next-generation distributed application platform intended to be maximally flexible and powerful in the possibilities that it enables. What is Ethereum, the Platform? The Ethereum Platform combines a generalized peer-to-peer networking platform with next-generation blockchain architecture to deliver a decentralized consensus-based (decentcon), full-stack platform for developing, offering and using distributed application services.  A consumer-facing application, called the EtherBrowser, integrates the front and back... [Read More]

DAOs, DACs, DAs and More: An Incomplete Terminology Guide

One of the most popular topics in the digital consensus space (a new term for cryptocurrency 2.0 that I’m beta-testing) is the concept of decentralized autonomous entities. There are now a number of groups rapidly getting involved in the space, including Bitshares (also known as Invictus Innovations) developing “decentralized autonomous companies”, BitAngels’ David Johnston with decentralized applications, our own concept of decentralized autonomous corporations which has since transformed into the much more general and not necessarily financial “decentralized autonomous organizations”... [Read More]