Meet Harmony: The Highly Efficient, Decentralized and Scalable Blockchain Technology with Solution to Many Blockchain Challenges

in review •  3 months ago 

Introduction

History has so much wealth of knowledge that it becomes practically difficult for those who learn from it to fail. There is a need to be informed of the past, learn from it and be exonerated from future mistakes.

The advent of cryptocurrency dates back to the nineties (199’s), even though people never knew this. There was very little publicity and adoption as even the very little that knew it believed it was a scam. How pathetic!

People were afraid to associate themselves with it as you could be seen as a high profile scammer if you dared mention it to someone.

But in 2009, the bitcoin software was released to the public for the first time and the first-ever mining, which entails a process whereby new bitcoins are created and transactions are recorded and verified – began

Again, many ignored this revolution and only recognized the potentials of this. Only visionaries were able to see. I could not agree less with a saying:

Many are the eyes that look, but few are the eyes that see. The eyes that see are the ones that lead and dominate.

Bitcoin became a means of exchange in 2010, which resulted in the first-ever transaction ever witnessed and popularly broadcasted. An individual sold 10,000 bitcoins for two pizzas. This was synonymous with biblical Esau who sold his birthright for mere porridge of yam.

Even though this was a loss to the individual, it resulted in great publicity for bitcoin as many people became aware of the possible use cases of bitcoin.

As time went by, many other decentralized and encrypted currencies started coming up, escalating and improving the crypto world.

These cryptocurrencies were regarded as ALTCOINS because they were all alternatives to BITCOIN – father of all cryptocurrency.

The former ultimately tried to replicate the bitcoin design. As of today, there are well over 1,000 cryptocurrencies in circulation with new ones frequently appearing. These figures keep increasing and one interesting thing about the world of crypto is that it can only get better.

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The Concept of the Blockchain Technology

The blockchain is the framework for the existence of these cryptocurrencies’. The blockchain in its beauty holds transaction records and hence, brings about transparency, decentralization, and security.

One very good thing about blockchain is that it digitally records data and with that way, a common history exists for all participants, thereby making it impossible for fraudulent activities.

The blockchain has an interesting feature known as scalability, where large volumes of transactions are done per second time or in real-time. Scalability allows the blockchain to handle millions of transactions without any depreciation in function or work.

Other features of blockchain include; immutability, decentralization, little or no transaction fees, very fast transaction time.

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Statement of Problem

In the bid to preserve these amazing features, many blockchain technologies have failed to maintain decentralization, security, and scalability.

Scalability

This has been a big problem for most platforms. The technological set up runs down trying to meet a large volume of transactions, little threshold frequency is clearly seen in some of these exchanges.

These irk investors as huge transactions are being delayed and at times, do not pull through. It can be just as bad as mentioned, which leads to panic sales in the market, competing for protocol changes, and overall confusion for entrant users.

Security

Mainstream adoption will continue to be an issue if the security of assets continues to be an issue.

There has been a great influx of fraudsters, scammers and even hackers over the years. Most blockchain technologies have failed to handle this and as a result, has seen over 4 billion US dollars’ equivalent being lost.

A huge part of this can be seen in the insensitive, low technological build of most blockchains.

Decentralization

Blockchain technology is originally designed to be a decentralized system, allowing every participant a chance of influence. But this has been a problem as the autonomic system seen in the traditional systems have been prevalent.

Every customer wants a guideline and reference standard to always measure, determine and evaluate ongoings in the crypto world. There is a need for an even distribution of relevance and authority.

Many blockchain technologies in the past few years have focused on solving these problems. While variety is the spice of life, it oftentimes does not guarantee success. A certain blockchain technology: Zilliqa attempted to solve this but failed as the chosen mechanism had several faults.

But there is hope for the next generation as an amazing blockchain technology has solved the problems of the blockchain space through its SHARDING PROTOCOL. I introduce to you HARMONY

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Introducing Harmony

Harmony is a blockchain technology that ultimately solves all the problems with existing blockchains. It is actually a sharding-based blockchain technology that has proven scalability, security, decentralization and efficient energy.

The scalable feature enables unprecedented transactions per second with the ability to easily scale as the network becomes heavily utilized. The algorithm is a PoS system that combines best research results and engineering practice in an optimally tuned system

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Exciting features of Harmony

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  • Fully Scalable

This is one of the exciting features of the harmony blockchain technology. It shards every part of the system including the network communication, transaction validation, and blockchain state. This features impacts the technology with all-round scalability across all parts of the blockchain protocol.

  • Secure Sharding

The distributed randomness generation process makes harmony’s sharding process highly secured as it is unpredictable, unbiaseable, verifiable and scalable. Not just that, it also reshards the network in a manner that is not interruptible so as to reduce and in the long run prevent any slow byzantine adversaries.

  • Efficient and Fast Consensus

The harmony platform is different from most sharding-based technologies as it does not go with the rampant PoW system. it has a unique PoS system that makes it highly energy efficient.

This brings about consensus with the presence of a linear scalable BFT algorithm that’s 100 times faster than PBFT.

  • Adaptive-Thresholded PoS

The threshold of stakes which is used by the node to join a network can be adjusted. The adjustable feature is based on the amount of stake such that fraudulent or malicious stakers cannot concentrate their power in a single shard.

Moreover, the threshold is low enough so that small stakers can still participate in the network and earn rewards.

  • Scalable Networking Infrastructure

Harmony can propagate blocks very fast when the Adaptive Information Dispersal Algorithm is used. Cross shard transactions scale logarithmically with the number of shards.

  • Consistent Cross-Shard Transactions

The technology supports some form of cross-sharding which brings about communication between shards. Consistency is also seen due to the presence of an atomic locking system.

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The Power, Features, and Components of the Sharding System

  • Sharding

First of all, sharding is used in the partitioning of databases such that the very large databases are broken or being divided into small and faster parts. In sharding, each efficient part can be called a data shard. In other words, shard means a part of a whole.

Blockchain sharding as a scalability solution has gained lots of attention since late 2017. Various sharding solutions have been proposed both in industry and academia. In industry, Zilliqa was the first sharding-based public blockchain that claimed throughput of 2,800 TPS.

Zilliqa uses PoW as an identity registration process (i.e. Sybil attack prevention). Zilliqa’s network contains a single directory-service committee and multiple shard committees (i.e. network sharding), each containing hundreds of nodes. Transactions are assigned to different shards and processed separately (i.e. transaction sharding). The resulting blocks from all shards are collected and merged at the directory-service committee.

Consequently, Omniledger employs a multi-party computation scheme called RandHound to generate a secure random number, which is used to randomly assign nodes into shards.

Harmony has used the success and challenges of the above technologies to develop its own solution, it uses a PoS-based full sharding scheme that’s linearly scalable and provably secure. There is the presence of beacon chain and several shard chains. The efficient algorithm proposed by the platform is developed for the Verifiable Random Function (VRF) and Verifiable Delay Function (VDF).

All in all, the system shifts the security consideration of a shard from the minimum number of nodes to the minimum number of voting shares.

  • Distributed Randomness Generation

In order to successfully allocate nodes to shards, certain approaches have been adopted. These approaches have lagged and lacked the success needed to drive results.

But a system worked and has ever since been dubbed as a highly secured system. This system is known as the: Randomness-based sharding. In this system, a number is used to determine the sharding assignment of each node and the number must contain the following properties:

  • Unpredictable: Impossible to be guessed or predicted before or during generation.

  • Unbiaseable: Integrity should be seen when generating a number

  • Verifiable: The generated number should be verifiable by observers.

  • Scalable: The algorithm of randomness generation should scale to a large number of participants.

  • Epochs

Epoch is the time during which the sharding structure is fixed and each shard continuously runs consensus with the same set of validators. When one epoch ends and a new one starts, the sharding conditions are changed. This acts to further secure the network.

Before validation is done, validators need to stake their tokens during epoch e – 1

  • Proof of Stake Sharding

Every voting share (which is underwritten by a Harmony One token) allows its respective staker to cast one vote. Security is maintained by keeping malicious stakers to less than 1/3 of the voting shares in any shard. Harmony has developed an adaptive threshold system to guarantee the security of the network.

By Harmony’s calculations, this system completely faults tolerant if less than ¼ of the entire network is malicious; which is quite conservative in preparing for a worst-case scenario.

Preventing a Sybil attack has been of utmost concern for every blockchain space. Harmony has adopted a mechanism; proof-of-stake (PoS). Through this means, every intending validator stakes some tokens, which means that voting strength is dependent on a number of tokens staked. A voting share is the basis of all actions and it is a virtual ticket that allows a validator to cast one vote in the consensus.

It’s worth noting that validators with larger stakes will have more chances of being selected as the leader. We argue that it’s actually a desirable scenario because large stakers have more incentive to follow the protocol due to the fear of their stake being slashed.

  • Resharding

If there is a fixed shading structure, there could be attacked which could corrupt validators in the shard. Harmony mitigates these problems by adopting the Cuckoo-rule based resharding mechanism. After the end of an epoch, the validators who withdrew their stake will be evicted from the network, while those who keep their stakes stay. The new validators who staked during this epoch get new voting shares. These voting shares will be randomly assigned to the shards who have more than the median of the total voting shares Source

  • Shard Chain

A shard chain is a blockchain that processes and validates its own transactions and stores its own state. A shard only processes transactions that are relevant to itself. Although a shard chain is relatively independent, it will communicate with other shard chains through cross-shard communication.

  • Beacon Chain

The beacon chain itself processes transactions like the standard shard chains, but it also has two other interesting functions.

  • Generating the random numbers that influence which validators are assigned to which shards
  • Accepting the stakes of the stakers applying to becomes validators

The validators of the beacon chain are determined in a similar process to that which determines the validators of the other standard shard chains.

This mechanism forces malicious actors to corrupt both the shard chain they are targeting and the beacon chain. Malicious actors are forced to do so that other nodes can be influenced to believe that the new fake block is one that has met the randomly determined requirements that the beacon chain is responsible for presetting.

  • Blockchain State Sharding

The blockchain sharding of the harmony platform is applied to the account-based data model. Every user has his or her own account state and tokens are evenly spread.

A user can have multiple balances contributed as voting shares to different shards; these balances can move across shards at the user’s behest via cross-shard transactions. Smart contracts are handled differently, and can only be held within the shard in which it was created.

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Consensus Mechanism

The consensus mechanism is the factor that determines the rate at which validators reach consensus on the next block. is important because it affects the speed of transaction on such network and blockchain is not excluded.

As we have know, bitcoin and ethereum implements the PoW(Proof of Work) consensus mechanism - where miners race to solve a cryptographic puzzle and win the right to propose a new block; meaning that the network security can only be breached if an attacker gains 51 % control of the nodes on the network(Sybil Attack); technically impossible due to high cost outlay.

The first blockchain consensus protocol which powers Bitcoin is Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus. PoW is a process whereby miners race to find the solution to a cryptographic puzzle. A new protocol, PBFT (Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance) was proposed after years of research to reduce communication complexity.

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Comparing Harmony and Other Blockchain technologies

Source

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Harmony Token

The token of the platform is known as th ONE token. It serves as a reward system for players in the blockchain. More so, it is exchanged for action such that it is paid before you gain access to the blockchain.

Other uses include:

  • Staking

  • Transaction fees

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Use Case 1 :

Mr Chukwuka is an investor that likes using the blockchain technology. Most of his business transactions are done on the chain. He has a massive staff of over 1000 and has been using the blockchain as a means for salary payment.

However, he has recently lost faith as most of his resources were lost due to theft from hackers. Also, he lost patience from delayed transaction which often times does not pull through due to the large volume of transactions he makes. After deciding to quit the blockchain space, he reads a publication about the harmony platform.

While he was initially skeptical, a trial immediately convince him and he was able to meet up with large volume of transactions solving the scalability issues while also saving his money from theft.

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Use case 2:

High flyers is a transport company that travels within USA. The country has an option for cryptocurrency payment. The have always known the value and benefits of the blockchain technology.

While business was moving greatly and smoothly, a decline was noticed in the payments coming from the digital currency.

The carried out a survey to determine the root cause of this. Research revealed that slow transactions discouraged people from making payments through crypto.

The ICT department had to incorporate the sharding system of the harmony platform and just within three months, sales and use of crypto skyrocketed.

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Conclusion

For over a decade, there has been a conservative use of the blockchain. Many people are not motivated to fully adopt it. A huge part of this is due to security, decentralization and then scalability. There is obvioulsy a good news with harmony which obviously will revolutionize the entire use and attitude towards the blockchain.

The beauty about the project is the diversity it has. In terms of business, it helps build a marketplace of tokens such that loyalties and energy credits are obtained. This improves businesses and customer satisfaction. Another area is privacy, where every customer's detail is preserved. Hardly would the detail of any customer leak out to the public

All in all, the harmony platform is an answer to the challenges of the blockchain industry and I am certain of an ultimate progress and adoption. I recommend the platform for individuals and business needing to scale and achieve success.

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Meet the team

The harmony team has years and wealth of experience in blockchain, technology and diverse areas.

Many of them have worked in top notch companies like Google, Amazon and as such possess all the skills needed to propel harmony, which they have already set in motion.

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Roadmap

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Harmony Partners

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Investors

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For more Resources:

Harmony Website
Harmony OnePager
Harmony WhitePaper
Harmony Medium Blog
Harmony Telegram Group
Harmony Twitter
Harmony LinkedIn
Harmony Instagram

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Hey Garlam - Head of Marketing at Harmony here - really love the article and was wondering if you'd be open to more work as one of our writers!

Message me on telegram - @garlamw (and yes it is the real me - check my twitter to verify my telegram id - https://twitter.com/GarlamWon)