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Two Point Oh: The Beacon Chain

The beacon chain is at the core of Ethereum 2.0. But what does it mean? What does it do? How does it work and what is its purpose? Tune in to find out! The post Two Point Oh: The Beacon Chain appeared first on Bitfalls.
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What is the Ethereum Beacon Chain?

Ever since Vitalik Buterin and other co-founders launched Ethereum in 2014, the problem of scalability has always been part of the conversation, with Ethereum developers all in agreement that a period of theoretical problem-solving leads to the challenge of developing an “Ethereum 2.0,” which solves the scaling problem and delivers on the promise of creating a vast, distributed “world computer.”...Read More. The post by Priyeshu Garg appeared first on BTCManager, Bitcoin, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency News
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Beacon Chain Proof of Concept Launch Planned For March

The launch of Ethereum 2.0 is estimated to begin this March with a Proof of Concept (PoC) of its core, the beacon chain, to go out this spring. The beacon... The post Beacon Chain Proof of Concept Launch Planned For March appeared first on Trustnodes.
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State of Ethereum Protocol #2: The Beacon Chain

The Beacon Chain and Ethereum 2.0 — where it came from and where it’s going. Missed “State of the Ethereum Protocol #1”? Check it out here.Ethereum 2.0 isn’t a new idea. Back in 2014, Vitalik said of Ethereum 2.0 that, “We will either solve the scalability and consensus problems or die trying.” Well, we’re still very much alive, and his updated view from just a couple of weeks ago is that “There is no significant unsolved theoretical problem left for Ethereum 2.0.”Now it’s time for what he calls the “software development slog,” and the Beacon Chain is the first component of Ethereum 2.0 in the delivery plan. In this article we’ll discuss what it does, why it does it, and how it’s being developed.Introducing the Beacon ChainIn my previous article, introducing Ethereum 2.0, I showed Hsiao-Wei Wang’s now famous architecture diagram of the Ethereum 2.0 system.Ethereum 2.0 overall architecture. Original diagram by Hsiao-Wei Wang.This image also serves as a step-by-step roadmap for the development and delivery of Ethereum 2.0. Reading from top to bottom:The PoW Main Chain is the part that exists today: the current Ethereum Mainnet. In the Ethereum 2.0 system, this continues to operate pretty much as it does today. Everything below this is new.The Beacon Chain is currently under development and will be the first component to be delivered.The Shard Chains are next and are where the scalability will come from. Initially, the shard chains will simply aggregate transactions and come to consensus on their ordering, without executing them. This will be a good test of the system’s infrastructure and security.The VM layer is the final big component of the Ethereum 2.0 system and will provide for the execution of contracts and transactions.Why do we need a “Beacon Chain”?The Beacon Chain is a brand-new, Proof-of-Stake blockchain. It is the spine that supports the whole of the new Ethereum 2.0 system. It is the heartbeat that keeps the system alive. It is the conductor coordinating all the players.The Beacon Chain coordinates the whole system (image source)The key function of the Beacon Chain is to manage the proof-of-stake protocol for itself and all of the shard chains. There are a number of aspects to this: managing validators and their stakes; nominating the chosen block proposer for each shard at each step; organising validators into committees to vote on the proposed blocks; applying the consensus rules; applying rewards and penalties to validators; and, being an anchor point on which the shards register their states to facilitate cross-shard transactions.Before we look at these functions in more depth, a note on terminology. The name Beacon Chain has its origins in the idea of a “random beacon” — such as NIST’s — that provides a source of randomness to the rest of the system, and the random beacon concept was adopted in a blockchain context by Dfinity. Although the name “beacon” suggests a central point, broadcasting to the rest of the system, of course it’s not like that on the blockchain: everything is decentralised. Each participating node maintains its own local Beacon Chain, striving to stay in lockstep with the other nodes. Perhaps the image with the conductor above is misleading. While the Beacon Chain does conduct the rest of the system, the conductor is himself decentralised, like each musician’s own internal sense of the rhythm.Introducing the Beacon ChainLet’s look at some of the functions of the Beacon Chain.Managing ValidatorsA major part of the work of the Beacon Chain is maintaining the set of validators, which is the set of nodes that have placed the required stake of 32 Ether, who are responsible for running the Ethereum 2.0 system. There are several statuses that a validator can have, but only those marked as “active” take part in the Ethereum 2.0 protocol.Nodes join the validator set by sending their stake to a contract on the Proof-of-Work chain (the current Mainnet). After some validity checks, the stake is locked up and the contract emits a log entry (an “event” in Solidity) which can be picked up by Beacon Chain clients. The node is then inducted into the validator set on the Beacon Chain.Once active, validators participate in the protocol by proposing blocks, when chosen to do so, on both the Beacon Chain and, once they have been implemented, the shard chains. They also join committees that vote for blocks, as described below.Validators can signal that they wish to exit the system and cease being involved. After a period of time (currently 97 days, but may be made more flexible), their stakes, plus rewards, minus penalties, will be returned into one of the shard chains. It will not be possible to unlock the initial stake on the PoW Mainnet, unless, perhaps, the whole system were to fail and the community agrees to a fork that refunds stakers.All of this is managed by the Beacon Chain.Providing RandomnessGood quality randomness is really hard to generate in blockchain systems, but a key requirement of the proof-of-stake protocol is a source of randomness that is distributed, verifiable, unpredictable, and (reasonably) unbiasable. The Beacon Chain is responsible for providing this randomness to the rest of the system: several of the protocol features described below depend on it.Randomness is tricky on blockchains (image source)The current approach to random number generation is a RANDAO construction with validators providing a “hash onion”. A RANDAO is simply a way to combine contributions (individual random numbers) provided by many participants into a single output number. To prevent any one participant manipulating the randomness significantly, a commit–reveal scheme is used. When a validator registers, it provides a commitment value that is its chosen original number hashed many times. Each time the validator is selected to be the proposer, it peels off one or more layers of the onion by providing a pre-image of the last number revealed. Everyone else can check that this was done correctly, so the proposer cannot cheat the system by changing its contribution.Although this scheme is not completely unbiasable — a proposer could skip its turn if it didn’t like the random number — it is believed to be sufficiently robust for the current protocol design.Block proposersThe Beacon Chain manages both its own proof-of-stake protocol and that of each shard chain. In a proof-of-work system, the node that gets to choose the next block, the block’s miner, is the first to solve the mining challenge. In proof-of-stake there is no mining, so block proposers are chosen randomly, based on the in-protocol randomness described above.Another property of a PoW system is that block times are irregular, although they average to around 15 seconds on Ethereum. In contrast, I described the Beacon Chain as being like a heartbeat. Ethereum 2.0 blocks are produced regularly every 16 seconds (although there is a desire to reduce that to 8 seconds if testing demonstrates it to be feasible). These 16 second periods are called “slots”.At each slot, the chosen proposer for the Beacon Chain collects up all the protocol votes (attestations) from the Beacon Chain validator set for previous blocks and forms them into a block that it publishes.Once the shard chains are in place, each shard will have its own chosen proposer at each slot that will gather up the transactions for that shard and form them into a block to be voted on by the shard’s committee.CommitteesVoting by committees of validators plays a key role in securing Ethereum 2.0 (image source, cropped)A critical source of security in the proof-of-stake blockchain is the committees that vote on which blocks form the true history of the chain. The Beacon Chain relies on counting votes, known as “attestations”, from its own committee in order to agree and enshrine (finalise) its history. This committee could, ideally, be all the active validators in the system if their attestations can be collected quickly enough.In addition, the Beacon Chain will appoint smaller sub-committees for each shard at random that will, in due course, be responsible for confirming that the shard’s proposers are behaving correctly.Rewards and penaltiesYet another administrative role for the Beacon Chain is the tracking and updating of validators’ deposits.Validators receive rewards for behaving well and playing their part: this is the incentive for participating. But if validators break the rules, they are penalised by having some of their 32 Ether deposit reduced (slashed), and being ejected from the system. There is also a small penalty for being absent (not showing up to vote on blocks) called the “quadratic leak”. The reasons for this are subtle, and are about allowing the system to keep processing even if huge numbers of validators go offline, such as in the event of a catastrophe.If a validator’s deposit falls below 16 Ether, the Beacon Chain will remove it from the validator set.CrosslinksFinally, the Beacon Chain performs the processing of crosslinks. Crosslinks tie the whole sharded system together, anchoring each shard to the spine that is the Beacon Chain.Periodically, the current state (the “combined data root”) of each shard gets recorded in a Beacon Chain block as a crosslink. When the Beacon Chain block has been finalised, the corresponding shard block is considered finalised, and other shards know that they can rely on it for cross-shard transactions.A visualisation of the Beacon Chain (blue) with 8 shard chains (aquamarine) and crosslinks (light blue lines). Finalised blocks on all chains are yellow. Time increases from left to right. Simulator by Casey Detrio.Buidling the Beacon ChainThus concludes our lightning tour of the soon-to-be Beacon Chain! On its own, the Beacon Chain might not seem particularly useful. It cannot process arbitrary transactions: it has no smart contracts; it has no EVM. You cannot do anything with it. But, as the first component of Ethereum 2.0 to be delivered, it is the foundation of the building. The whole spectacular architecture to come is to be built on this. It has to be solid.If you want to get down into the detail, there is a work-in-progress Beacon Chain specification. All the creation and maintenance of this document is being done openly: anyone with useful input is welcome to join in. There’s all sorts of useful discussion to be had in the issues and the pull requests. If you just want the headlines, I’ve started consolidating the main specification updates and other news in a weekly bulletin.In order to run the Beacon Chain you’re going to need a Beacon Chain client. These are currently being developed separately from the familiar suite of standard Ethereum clients (Geth, Parity, Pantheon, et al.) by a number of teams. You can see a list of the ones that I know about here with links to their GitHub repositories. Prysmatic and Lighthouse are putting out periodic updates on their client development progress, and some of the teams are offering bounties to contributors.Teams working on the Beacon Chain. Slide with links here.As for timescales… the technical specification declares itself to be 60% complete at the time of writing this, and there remains a fairly chunky todo list. Nonetheless, a finger in the air suggests that the spec ought to be reasonably complete by the end of the year, and that perhaps by the end of Q1 2019 we’ll be running a multi-client Beacon Chain testnet. Momentum has been building rapidly over recent weeks and the long discussed Ethereum 2.0 is really beginning to happen!https://medium.com/media/eb70db0a21c4e8715b29a5306af17d39/hrefState of Ethereum Protocol #2: The Beacon Chain was originally published in ConsenSys Media on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
Consensys Media

Ethereum (ETH) Ecosystem’s Top 3 Guiding Factors: eWASM, Casper FFG and Beacon Chain

Three Factors Shaping Ethereum’s Ecosystem Ethereum is a significant cryptocurrency project and right now, it may be in the throes of evolving. Here are three factors that to look forward to concerning its development: Beacon Chain Beacon Chain is one option being explored by Ethereum developers. This solution enables the transition of Ethereum into proof-of-stake and sharding concept. Beacon Chain essentially links the main blockchain and shard chains and it lets the main chain know which blocks from the shards need to be added over time. Once the main blockchain is validated through a proof-of-stake, it will always reside in the Beacon Chain and maintain a close connection to it. Casper FFG Casper FFG’s integration into blockchain’s future is based on speculation. Many view it as a validator for Casper and sharding. Those who want to participate in the FFG aspect must have a stake of 1,500 ETH to validate the network activity. There have also been some concerns in recent months concerning the use of Casper FFG. Though it is unclear whether it will be ultimately added to the blockchain, it is possible. eWASM Lastly, eWASM has a significant role in Ethereum’s future. First proposed as a part of EIP 48 due to its ability to introduce notable performance advantages over the traditional Ethereum Virtual Machine, today it is seen as a “second gen” of the EVM, even though it uses as subset of Webassembly. Webassembly may be the new standard for the web due to its ability to improve speed and size. Further, it can be valuable to Ethereum and dApp developers.
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Ethereum (ETH) Developers Actively Looking For Beacon Chain ASICs

Apparently, Ethereum developers are actively looking to purchase application specific integrated circuits (ASICs) for the beacon chain, a side-chain that coordinates Ethereum shards and Proof of Stake validators. In this regard, an Ethereum developer was recently quoted saying that he is scouring the market for exotic semiconductors to build a digital ASIC with millions of logic gates that will have an incredibly fast processor at a budget of $30 million. The developer further added that the ASIC will be created for the Ethereum open-source project and will have a n open-source electronic circuitry. Seemingly, the Ethereum beacon chain will leverage Verifiable Delay Functions (VDFs). As per the founder of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin, VDFs can achieve randomness by getting entropy for validators. The importance of randomness of the orders is to obscure their destination as well as their intended function. If not randomized, such orders can be easily manipulated. However, the randomization process is considerably challenging. According to Justin Drake, an Ethereum developer, VDFS can be fundamental in the randomization of orders because it has advantages over other mechanisms. However, the problem is that a developer who build ASICs that can compute VDFs faster and efficiently than GPUs and CPUs and then use the same computer to cause havoc. As a counter measure, developers have proposed a scheme where the advanced ASICs perform the computations, present the hash for verification by other ASICs, and finally send the hash to third-party nodes. Additionally, Justin said that the ASICs are likely to be power intensive, consuming an n average of 10W. To this end, he likened the devices to powerful high-end graphics cards. Drake concluded by expressing optimism that a VDF-capable ASIC will soon be available, referring to the $30 million budget as a sufficient incentive.
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Stellar Price Analysis: Grayscale Announces XLM Based Trust; XLM/USD Stuck Within Bearish Structure

Global digital asset management firm, Grayscale, has announced an investment vehicle based around XLM. XLM/USD is moving within the confinements of a bearish pattern structure, subject to a breakout south. XLM/USD has been subject to very narrow and choppy trading, which has been going on for the past eight sessions now. Price action is moving […] The post Stellar Price Analysis: Grayscale Announces XLM Based Trust; XLM/USD Stuck Within Bearish Structure appeared first on Hacked: Hacking Finance.
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Grayscale Adds Stellar as Latest Cryptocurrency Investment Trust

Grayscale Adds Stellar as Latest Cryptocurrency Investment Trust Digital currency investment group Grayscale confirmed it had successfully launched its latest fund, dedicated to Stellar’s Lumens (XLM) token, in a tweet Jan. 17. Grayscale, which now operates nine cryptocurrency funds, timed the move to coincide with a change of image for its products, renaming all its […] Cet article Grayscale Adds Stellar as Latest Cryptocurrency Investment Trust est apparu en premier sur Bitcoin Central.
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Researches from MIT, Stanford Set to Replace Bitcoin with Their Groundbreaking Crypto Project

CoinSpeaker Researches from MIT, Stanford Set to Replace Bitcoin with Their Groundbreaking Crypto Project Until now, everybody has been talking about Bitcoin, the most popular and widely used digital currency. However, Bitcoin is unable to process thousands of transactions a second. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), UC-Berkeley, Stanford University, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Southern California, and the University of Washington have decided to fix such a weakness and develop a crypto asset better than Bitcoin. The researchers are working together as Distributed Technology Research (DTR), a non-profit organization based in Switzerland and backed by hedge fund Pantera Capital. The first initiative of Distributed Technology Research is the Unit-e, a virtual coin that is expected to solve bitcoin’s scalability issues while holding true to a decentralized model and process transactions faster than even Visa or Mastercard. Babak Dastmaltschi, Chairman of the DTR Foundation Council, said: “The blockchain and digital currency markets are at an interesting crossroads, reminiscent of the inflection points reached when industries such as telecom and the internet were coming of age. These are transformative times. We are nearing the point where every person in the world is connected together. Advancements in distributed technologies will enable open networks, avoiding the need for centralized authorities. DTR was formed with the goal of enabling and supporting this revolution, and it is in this vein that we unveil Unit-e.” According to the press release, Unit-e will be able to process 10,000 transactions per second. That’s worlds away from the current average of between 3.3 and 7 transactions per second for Bitcoin and 10 to 30 transactions for Ethereum. Joey Krug, a member of the DTR Foundation Council and Co-Chief Investment Officer at Pantera Capital, believes that a lack of scalability is holding back cryptocurrency mass adoption. He said: “We are on the cusp of something where if this doesn’t scale relatively soon, it may be relegated to ideas that were nice but didn’t work in practice: more like 3D printing than the internet.” The project’s ideology is firmly rooted in transparency, with a belief in open-source, decentralized software developed in the public interest with inclusive decision-making. The core team of the project is based in Berlin. To solve the scalability problem, DTR has decided to develop the Unit-e with parameters very close to Bitcoin’s design, but many things will be improved. Gulia Fanti, DTR lead researcher and Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, commented: “In the 10 years since Bitcoin first emerged, blockchains have developed from a novel idea to a field of academic research. Our approach is to first understand fundamental limits on blockchain performance, then to develop solutions that operate as close to these limits as possible, with results that are provable within a rigorous theoretical framework.” The launch of the Unit-e is planned for the second half of 2019. Researches from MIT, Stanford Set to Replace Bitcoin with Their Groundbreaking Crypto Project
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BitPay CEO Says Bitcoin Is Solving Real Problems Around the World

BitPay co-founder and CEO, Stephen Pair, has recently commented that Bitcoin (BTC) is solving several issues around the world. He said that in a press release uploaded a […] The post BitPay CEO Says Bitcoin Is Solving Real Problems Around the World appeared first on UseTheBitcoin.
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