[Kblock Research] #72. TXGX(Tech Forum by Ground X) Review
TXGX(Tech Forum by Ground X) Review
It was probably early last year when I first knew that I wanted to study blockchain. I was confident that blockchain was going to lead to a bigger change in technology. While I was presenting new technology each week at the school IT management society at University, I got into blockchain starting with bitcoin whitepaper.
To me, the most enjoyable thing while I was studying was being able to attend various meetups and conferences. I was able to easily meet people who were interested in blockchain or were already working in the industry. There were many meetups that also provided delicious dinners for the attendees, so I often brought my friends along with me.
Yet now that I think about it, I remember that the meetups I attended were mostly hosted by dApp Teams. I think I remember that it was a place to announce what can be solved with blockchain.
However, to date, the scalability problem of blockchain has not been completely solved. As such, there is a security issue in the execution of the smart contract, and new consensus algorithm ideas are constantly being presented.
“Ground X,” which develops its own platform chain, has hosted a forum strictly for developers, each consisting of the above three topics. It was a great opportunity to get a glimpse of what the technical teams are doing and what they are concerned about, especially for the teams that took part in the conference as the speakers for each topic. In this article, I would like to review the sessions of TXGX (Tech Forum by Ground X, http://txgx.io/).
Since the Kakao Policy Research Team has already summarized the announcements from the conference (https://brunch.co.kr/@kakao-it/270), I created a basic outline while I listened to the speakers that contains the following items: a concentration of my personal thoughts, the ideas of the teams, the solutions each team introduced, and what problems need to be solved in the future.
Session One : Scalability
Kyber Network https://kyber.network/
When you hear the name “Kyber network,” what should come to mind is the “Decentralization Exchange (DEX).”
In order to announce the Gormos, a self-based blockchain, the Kyber network became the first speaker to participate in the forum discussing the technology of platform blockchain. Whenever I hear about the Kyber network's token exchange system, Kyber Swap, the idea is that the Ethereum transaction is slow to be mined and confirmed. In my opinion, the Kyber network seems to have recognized these limitations as well. However, the Kyber network didn't abandon the idea of the Ethereum transaction. Gormos is designed as an Ethereum side chain and is said to combine sharding and plasma. Considering that a pair of tokens is exchanged in one reserve, the Kyber network's decentralization exchange model thought it would fit well with sharding. In fact, Loi Luu said that one reserve would fit into one shard. Because the reserves operate independently of one another, they do not have to solve the most difficult “shard communication problem” in sharding.
Above all, I am looking forward to seeing CEO Loi Luu since he has a great deal of experience writing a thesis on sharding. The Kyber network team has said that it will commit to the Ethereum sharding and plasma projects for the time being. dApp's challenge is to create their own self-based chain! I am very interested to see how they will address this challenge.
Quark Chain https://quarkchain.io/
QuarkChain is a project focused on sharding. As mentioned above, the most difficult part of sharding is communication between shards. When a smart contract in an A shard tries to change the state information in a B shard, the transaction of the A shard must first be passed to the B shard; it should not overlap with other transactions in the B shard. For this problem, QuarkChain suggested that a “smart contract with a dependency” needed be placed in the same shard, no matter what shard it enters. However, in the mid-long term, if there are a lot of situations where smart contracts will need to communicate with each other, the transaction and smart contract will eventually come to one shard. Because of this, sharding will not actually be completed. QuarkChain has clearly identified the issues that need to be addressed in order to implement sharding, but personally, I feel that the announcement did not give a clear enough answer to the communication problem between shards. I will have to check QuarkChain's whitepaper for details!
At the time of the “Crypto Kitties incident,” one dApp put the Ethereum network in disturbance. To prevent this, the “Aelf” approach isolates resources by each dApp by allocating one side chain per dApp. The main chain of “Aelf” acts like a “Linux OS” that indexes several side chains while also communicating between side chains. However, the problem that needs be solved is the speed difference between the side chains as mentioned in the whitepaper. The finality is that it takes 10 minutes for the bitcoin PoW to be checked, whereas it only takes 0.5 seconds for the EOS dPOS. If the speed between the side chains is different, the following problem occurs: Assume that a transaction on the side chain (PoW) wants to change the state information of the B side chain (dPOS), the transaction of the A side chain takes 10 minutes to complete. If the state information of the B side chain has already been changed within that 10 minutes, the so-called “atomicity” will be difficult to maintain. I am curious to see how the “Aelf” Team will go about solving this problem. The main chain also needs to index the side chain information consistently, however, it is not yet clear how the “Aelf” Team will implement it. In simple terms, either someone should pass a side chain block to the main chain delegation node, or the main chain delegation node should watch the side chain block as a light node. In both cases, the process looks like a point that can be easily forged because it is focused on a particular node. I wonder how the “Aelf” Team will work out the two issues mentioned above.
Lightning Talk #1
There was a Lightning Talk between each session, and Gluwa’s CEO, Tae-rim Oh, announced the creation of biometric information-based digital identity. One identity can be created digitally through individual biometric information and device information. I thought it was a way to prevent a Sybil Attack, which is often mentioned on blockchain. At the same time, I worried, “Oh, what if I lose my registered device?”
The accompanying Lightning Talk was the announcement of Min-jung Kim, who is currently pursuing a master's degree in KAIST. Stellar is currently implemented differently than whitepaper, and the new node can only pick Quorum; Quorum Slice cannot be selected. When I read some of the posts on Stellar’s Reddit thread, there were so many Stellar holders who were shouting “Stellar, Slice that Quorum!” due to the value rising. I was surprised that Quorum Slice, which is the core of security, is not being implemented and that it still breaks if a few nodes fail. I am worried about how much future studying I need to do in each section. For whitepaper, I think that I need to only check the ideas and practice the actual code. I still have a long way to go!
Session Two : Security
We have arrived at the world in which the smart contract's code has become law. The code determines important things like coin distribution. It is also important to verify the smart contract code. The verification operation is called “Smart Contract Auditing.” Zilliqa has developed a new smart contract language called Scilla that makes it easy to verify your own code. In the session, we showed that our own development environment and test net were ready for Solidity. I was very surprised that we had created a new programming language. We will focus on how we will grow the Scilla developer community in the context of the majority of developers focused on Solidity.
The “Orbs Team” lectured about the Threshold BLS Signature Scheme which can be seen in various blockchain whitepaper these days. It is a cryptosystem with a structure in which a whole number of signatures can be signed even though a certain number of nodes, such as a Multi-Sig Account, have to be signed. The “Orbs Team” is a team with expertise in cryptography and seems to be dissolving cryptographical knowledge well in our blockchain.
“Orbs Positioning Whitepaper” says that you can keep a secret shared on a distributed network under the name “Network Owned Secret.” This is also based on the Threshold BLS Signature Scheme. So, how does the Network Owned Secret work? Let me quote a simple example of whitepaper. First, considering the way in which Simple Payment Verification (SPV) is performed in the bitcoin blockchain, it is vulnerable to a “man-in-the-middle attack” when querying only one node to verify a particular transaction. That is, if a node asked for by a light client is a malicious node, it can be intentionally misleading. So, on today's bitcoin, SPV has applied a question to multiple nodes. SPV can be in the form of questioning the entire object network node. Based on threshold encryption, if more than a certain number of nodes are signed, the transaction can be verified more reliably. I wonder what it looks like technically. It is said that the “Orbs Team” will soon release an implemented whitepaper!
Oasis Labs https://www.oasislabs.com/
“Oasis Labs” is researching ways to efficiently handle large amounts of computations while protecting privacy and executing smart contracts in addition to designing an oasis blockchain based on the technology. Professor Dawn Song, Team CEO, has already proven the structure of a blockchain smart contract based on the Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) in the Ekiden research paper. To summarize Ekiden, if a smart contract operation is executed in a safe computing environment that cannot be operated by the computer's owner and the operation has proven to be “operated in a safe computing environment,” the consensus node will transmit the proof. It is a format that only verifies and records in blockchain. The user's input value and state information are both protected by the cryptographic system. However, Ekiden's limitation is that the aforementioned “proof” is done through Intel's centralized Intel Attestation Service. To solve this problem, the development of an “open-source hardware enclave implementation” project called Keystone (https://keystone-enclave.org/) is currently underway. If decentralization of the certification process is achieved, the blockchain industry is expected to grow tremendously.
Enigma is a team that I am currently very interested in. They are working on a project that will develop solutions with the same problem awareness as “Oasis Labs.” Unlike “Oasis Labs,” which operates on a single TEE, Enigma divides the data into several pieces. The nodes on the Enigma network, which are off-chain, divide the data and send it back to the blockchain node. Since the data is divided, each node is unable to know what the original data is and can therefore operate quickly. However, you should also read the whitepaper to see how the Enigma network nodes receive incentives so you can see how each operation is done.
Lightning Talk #2
After the second session, the speaker of the next Lightning Talk was a team of two professors from KAIST. Professor Kim introduced Shadow, a tool for experimenting with consensus algorithms in a virtual environment. He said he was experimenting with bitcoin. Professor Seok-young Ryu was analyzing the code of the smart contract written in Solidity and picking up any vulnerabilities. It seemed like they were working on a fast-paced study of the fast-flowing blockchain industry.
Ground X https://groundx.xyz/
The next order was the announcement of the “Ground X” Team that hosted the Tech Forum. In Korea, teams who develop public blockchain are not very common, so I was personally looking forward to this session. “Ground X” is a blockchain subsidiary of Kakao and is making a public blockchain platform called Klaytn. Above all, this TXGX was the first time the “Ground X” Team released information on Klaytn. The presentation explained the overall architecture of Klaytn. The team is focused on the security of the blockchain and is designed to constantly monitor the consensus nodes by creating a role called the Ranger Node. I do not know much because there isn't a lot of published materials on the issue, but I have high expectations for it as a domestic project to develop public blockchain.
After the announcement from the “Ground X” Team, everyone boarded the bus for a networking party and left for Magpie Brewing Co. I was able to meet a group of speakers and a variety of developers while they were carrying their glasses of beer in the spacious outdoor space. After eating pizza, drinking beer, and talking about blockchain, night finally fell on Jeju Island.
Session Three : Consensus Algorithm
Chia network https://chia.net/
Bitcoin miners have invested infinitely in the ASIC to turn their mining machines. Now, the network hash rate is overblown. The “Chia Network” uses a consensus algorithm to stake out “empty” storage rather than a CPU. The price of storage is getting lower day by day, so no one is investing in massive amounts. Everybody keeps a little storage, so I thought that the mining would not be centralized. It looks like a very ecocentric consensus algorithm. When I was able to access the “official website of the Chia Network,” I found that it had been green-lit and was ready to go.
In the case of EOS, their holders participate in the BP election. Even if their chosen BP is elected to create a block, no direct reward is given to the EOS holder. BP can fulfill its voting purpose only if it fulfills its pledge. The Tomo Chain has planted a governance structure in the platform with a smart contract that distributes a portion of the block rewards to the holders who have chosen it, whereas the BP I selected creates it. However, it is a bit questionable whether this structure will work well, mainly following the question of will “I get a monetary gain if the person I voted for is elected?”
Voting for a BP that is likely to be elected, rather than determining a BP to vote on a pledge, would be more profitable to the holder monetarily. But no one can predict which platform the Crypto world will pick up.
“Lambda256” is also a domestic(Korean) platform blockchain team like “Ground X.” The team adopted a consensus algorithm called Proof of Authority (PoA), which seems to be a good match for the private chain because it is about permissions settings. They will also be waiting for a bit more direction because the whitepaper will be released soon.
Lightning Talk #3
THe last speakers of the talk were “Ground X” engineer Melvin Woo and Decipher President Jae-yoon Kim. The extensibility issue of blockchain is often thought of as TPS, but Melvin Woo divided the details of the blockchain into several details, just like the engineer of a platform chain developer. Jae-yoon Kim presented an idea applying blockchain-based incentive structure to edge computing technology.
When I was carefully listening to the two-day TXGX sessions, I was able to both answer questions and find solutions to some problems. However, I also found the same amount of new problems.
Before I knew anything about blockchain, I thought that technology development was done swiftly. However, it is actually a gradual process of solving small and big problems. Now blockchain is like my military life - I will focus more intently on blockchain.
TXGX finished with Jason Han, CEO of “Ground X.”
“Ground X” will host TXGX every year, and he ended the conference by saying “See you guys next year.” The conference on Jeju Island with “Ground X” was a great opportunity to continue thinking about the direction of platform blockchain. I expect to see how platform chains solve the problems they are facing. TXGX, see you again next year!
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