this edition of the TAO update series, I will explain what has been
completed thus far, what is left to do, and what you can do with Tritium
after you read this article. So, let’s get started with the usual git pull origin master.
As you can see, there has been an additional 58,627 lines of code since the last TAO update, which equates to roughly 3 months of solid coding since the last git pull. This averages out to around 651 lines of new code every day since the end of October. Anyhow, let’s begin by first taking a look at the acronym to our framework: TAO
This word comes from a Chinese classical text, The Tao Te Ching,
which has been studied by some of the greatest philosophers of our
time. It represents an idea that contains the principles of balance, and
order in the greater concepts of the mind.
Tao is hidden, and has no name; but it is the Tao which is skillful at
imparting (to all things what they need) and making them complete”
Lower Level Library
The Lower Level Library (LLL) is the foundation of the TAO, which includes: viz. Crypto, Database, and Protocol (Network Layer).
Lower Level Crypto
is not much to report here, other than cleaning up some memcpy from the
Skein and Keccak functions, along with the research of some promising
candidates for a lattice based signature scheme. Right now the NIST
competition is in the first round of the review process. We will observe
how this evolves over the next year to identify which candidates to
the future, we may try out hybrid signature schemes on a test network
to see the effectiveness of lattice and elliptic curve hybrid
signatures. The data and computational overhead would be higher, but the
security parameters of our public keys would inherit a higher degree of
quantum resistance compared to that provided from our current use of
Skein and Keccak.
Lower Level Database
The following new components have been added to the Lower Level Database:
Binary Hash Map
— This is a hashmap with very low memory footprint and on disk indexing,
which handles bucket collisions at O(n) reverse iterations (linear
time), and is designed for write intensive applications. The write
capacity has peaked at around 450k writes / second, with reads peaking
at 25k reads / second from disk, and 1.4m reads per second if cached.
Binary LRU Cache
— LRU stands for Least Recently Used, and means that the cache will keep
only the elements that have been recently used, and discards the
elements that are the oldest. This makes for an efficient cache
implementation compared to FIFO (First in first out)
Transaction Journal — This
is an anti corruption measure when handling an ACID transaction that
recovers the database from invalid states in the case of power failures,
program crashes, or random restarts.
one of these components is a part of the modular framework, that you
will be able to see if you go to the src/LLD/cache, src/LLD/keychain,
src/LLD/templates folders. The most exciting piece is the addition of
the Transaction Journal. Before I give a deeper explanation of this, let
us review what is meant by the term ‘ACID’.
Atomicity — All transactions are seen as individual units that together must complete as a whole.
Consistency — All transactions must bring the database from one consistent state to another.
Isolation — Transaction
reads and writes with concurrent execution must leave the database in a
valid state, as if it was being processed in series.
Durability — Once
a transaction is committed, it must stay so even in the event of a
power failure. This usually means committing the transaction to disk.
huh? I can explain this some more. Think of a database transaction as a
commitment of many pieces of data that synchronize together in an
amalgamation of information. To understand this better, let us use a
real life example such as Kim will only give John an apple, if Carry
gives Sue a Peach. If this was a database transaction, what this would
mean is that all the prerequisites would need to be committed together,
and if any of them were to fail, the entire transaction would fail.
Let’s combine this with an ACID expression.
Atomicity — Kim, John, Carry, and Sue (individual units) exchanging fruit (the whole).
Consistency — Carry -> give Peach to Sue -> then Kim -> gives John an Apple
— If carry and John both execute the giving of their Peach and Apple
close to the same time, the ordering must be correct in the consistency
sequence, which means the peach must be given to Sue before the apple is
given to John.
— If Carry and John agree to the exchange, but never fully execute by
exchanging the Peach and the Apple due to an error, such as the apple
being forgotten by Kim, then the Apple and the Peach may never reach
John or Sue. In this case, the commitment existed (in memory), but it
never obtained durability since the physical object did not complete
I hope this above helps you understand the importance of an ACID
transaction, of which one of the most important pieces is the
‘Durability’ component. When implemented with the proper logic, this can
result in a database that cannot be corrupted, even under conditions of
power failure. Let me explain how this is achieved.
The Transaction Journal
the implementation of the Transaction Journal, every sequence of a
transaction was executed in memory. In this way the database only
records the state accompanied by the pending disk write, once the
transaction has committed. Transaction journaling introduces an on disk
checkpointing system that detects if there was an interruption during
the transaction commit process. When the database re-initializes, it is
able to detect any corruption, allowing the journal to be used to
restore the database to the most recent transaction checkpoint even
across many database instances. Therefore, at the sacrifice of a bit of
speed, we can achieve higher levels of durability for the database
engine. The latest statistics in our 100k Read and Write test ran as low
as 0.33 seconds with the binary hash map, down from the 0.86 seconds when using the binary file map.
Lower Level Protocol
I’m sure many of you remember, our last test ran as high as 200,000 requests / second. I’m happy to report that the new numbers stand at:
request is a message from one computer sent to another computer which is
generally a request for a piece of data on the remote computer, such as
a web page for a web server. Our latest test above shows the peak
performance of the Lower Level Protocol at 452,171 requests / s, over a
double increase in performance compared to the last test we submitted.
The above demonstrates the capabilities of the Network layer, without Ledger
layer validation which confirms that the network can handle very large
workloads. It is important to have efficiency in all parts of a system
in order for it to scale effectively. The efficiency of an application
comes directly from the level of physical resources required to perform
the task at hand.
ledger contains two components to its processing, the transaction
objects and the blocks that act to commit transactions to disk, and
therefore the database. Think of any blockchain as a verification
database system, where the data is required to be processed before it is
allowed to be written to the disk. Along with this set pre-processing,
every single node in the network must agree on the outcome of the
process, arriving at the same state in a synchronized ACID transaction which is carried by a block. In the case of Nexus, we follow a similar model. However, we perform the Consistency preprocessing before allowing for synchronized Isolation and Atomicity, and perform the post-processing verification afterwards as the final block receipt, allowing for Durability.
tritium transaction object contains aspects of the ledger for pre and
post processing, and the register pre states and post states, and
finally the operations payload that is responsible for mutating the
software stack for Tritium has come a long way in recent months. Now
that we have a foundation provided by the Lower Level Database and Lower
Level Protocol, it has been fun to plug in some of the features that
form the layers above. Below is a more recent stress test that verifies a
block that is at full capacity (approximately 2MB). This block as you
can see contained 32,252 transactions, and processed in 647 ms.
The software stack for Tritium has come a long way in recent months. Now that we have a foundation provided by the Lower Level Database and Lower Level Protocol, it has been fun to plug in some of the features that form the layers above. Below is a more recent stress test that verifies a block that is at full capacity (approximately 2MB). This block as you can see contained 32,252 transactions, and processed in 647 ms.
test verified the time required for ‘post-processing’ which is the
processing required after a block is received and is then added to the
chain. The required time for ‘pre-processing’ which is the processing
required before a block is received, was not included in this benchmark
test. Let’s dig a little bit deeper into what all this means, and how
these specific elements are prerequisite to Amine.
is the processing that is required for an object before it becomes a
part of the ledger. This will generally be checking for conflicts within
the database system such as spends or register pre-states, and then
more complex pre-processing which would be signature verification. It is
important to note that our tests have shown that signature verification
is the biggest bottleneck in the processing of any transaction or
contract in Tritium. Since we use a 512-bit standard for key sizes which
raises our security to around 2²⁵⁶ bits (2¹²⁸ for Bitcoin, since ECC
only retains about half of the key length in usable security due to
different types of attacks), we have more signature data that is
required to be processed when a transaction is received.
in Tritium will be performed through the memory pool. Since Tritium
blocks do not include the whole transaction object, they only contain
references to objects that they are committing to disk (think of a block
as a sort of ACID
transaction). This means that if a block is submitted that contains a
txid (transaction i.d.) that has never been publicly known by the nodes
on the network, this block will not be able to propagate until the
receiving nodes are able to run the pre-processing for that particular
txid. Consequently, if a miner tried to submit a malicious transaction
in a block as an attempt to double spend a transaction already accepted
in the memory pool, they would find it increasingly difficult to get it
added to the main chain (i.e. verified by validating nodes). This is
because none of the nodes would have the pre-processing data required to
accept this block, and that their conflicting transaction would in most
cases fail to be accepted with it being that it had a direct conflict
with another transaction that had already passed preprocessing.
Preprocessing in Amine
will be aggregated into a two processing layers, namely Trust and
Miners. This means that Trust nodes will be mainly providing
preprocessing to the network, and miners providing the post-processing.
is the processing required when a block is received, in order to fully
commit components of the data, and change the register pre-states into
their post states with verified checksums. The example above was pure
post-processing which showed that our post-processing layers scale quite
nicely, with a maximum of around 40–50k tx/s if split into a two-tier
(pre/post) processing system. Our two-tier processing system will be the
main aspect of the Amine architecture upgrade, along with additional operations and registers, and deeper/more advanced LISP functionality (we will explain how LISP shards will function in a later update).
With Obsidian, the two-tier process will become a three-tier process, which when integrated will have pre-processing (L1 processing channels), post-processing (L2 trust channels), and hardening (L3 distributed mining).
It is important to understand how the present Tritium architecture is
setting the foundation for all that is to follow. As many of you will
know, as with any undertaking, once the foundation is set, it is not
easily changed unless one takes apart the entire system. This is why it
was so important to give Tritium the time it needed.
pre-processing and post-processing is divided into two tiers as well,
the pre-state and the post-state. This is important to know, so that you
can understand how the registers act to modulate their states.
Understanding this will help discover some of the benefits of pre-states
in a chain, and how a node can prune prior pre-state data based on the
verification of a transaction in a block object. A register post-state
could be considered one individual unit of Atomicity.
pre-states contain the current database state of the given register
before the operations execute. It is packaged into a binary format
inside the transaction object as the means of verifying that the initial
claimed state is the same state that the current network contains of
benefits of this come two-fold, one that you are able to rollback the
chain without having to iterate back an unspecified number of blocks to
find the state mutation of the previous register, and two that you are
able to know the state of the register without having to calculate all
its previous states. This adds additional benefits, such as being able
to run nodes in ‘lighter’ mode, where nodes are only required to verify
chain headers (which contain references to all of the transactions in a
block), to know that a transaction with a given pre-state was included
in a block. This allows for ‘light’ verification of a pre-state, i.e
that the transaction was confirmed with the consensus of the network at a
given block height, and therefore is indeed valid.
the growth of the network and size of the ledger (one aspect of scaling
to consider), we can prune the data held by the ledger by removing old
pre-states, which lowers the data requirement and creates a more
efficient and sustainable network over an extended period of time. By
implementing this architecture now, we won’t end up with an over-baked
architecture in the future that can’t handle the overwhelming volume of
data that has been processed in the past.
When you hear of projects boasting 100k tx/s, or even 1M tx/s, let’s look at what this really entails:
On average, a tritium transaction will be a minimum of 144 bytes, and a maximum of 1168 bytes.
Let us take a best case scenario, with a normal OP::DEBIT / OP::CREDIT being around 24 bytes, so an example of a transaction that is 166 bytes.
Let us now multiply this number by 100,000 transactions which equals 16,600,000 bytes per second, or 16 MB per second. This means your internet connection would need to support at a minimum 16MB per second, or a 128 Mbps connection.
Now beyond that, let us look at the damage as it compounds. 16MB per second multiplied by 86,400 seconds (1 day) is 1,382,400 MB, which is 1.3 TB per day. Multiply this by 365 for a one year period and we have 504 TB per year consumed. This is obviously not possible on consumer grade hardware.
above proof shows that the claims of such grandiose scale are most
likely rooted in either folly, or malarky. For us, our pre-processing
and post-processing systems, LISP data shards, Lower Level Database, and
register Pre-States will help scaling significantly, but there is no
way of knowing the exact scale that will be able to be achieved until
demonstrated in real world conditions, over a long period of time. Right
now, our results are promising, seeing that we are achieving a
reasonable scale in post-processing, and managing architecture that is
able to shard the pre-processing to exceed the 4.3k tx/s bottleneck from signature verification.
register has a pre-state which is used by the operations layer for
execution to move the register into its post-state. A post-state is what
is recorded in the register database as the new state of the register
after the transaction has completed. In order to not weigh down the
register script (some of the binary data packed into a transaction), we
included what is called a post-state checksum at the end of a register
pre-state. Therefore, any validating node will compare their calculated
post-state to the post-state checksum that was included with the
benefits of this, is that a transacting node is required to do the
calculations themselves, to prove that they have done honest work. Other
validating nodes verify this calculation by comparing their new
register state checksum to the post-state checksum included in the
those that are able to house extra data on their hard-drive, their node
can be enabled to show the history of the registers without much
processing required. Since the keychain object that is used for the
register database is a binary hash map, you can enable it to operate in
APPEND mode, which will append new data to the end of the corresponding
database files, enabling a user to reverse iterate from the end of a
hashmap collision, which will show the sequence of the register history.
This is very useful for registers used in supply chains or other
‘history’ related chains, such as the transfer of ownership of titles
and deeds for example.
are a few different types of registers that determine what types of
operations can be executed on them. As you know from the tritium white
paper there are object registers and state registers. Let’s briefly
explain what each one is for:
state register is one that holds the state for a component of an
external application, with no specification on the data format which
means that specialized operations can not be applied to these register,
— A raw register is a register with given number of bytes that can be
written to or appended to at any time. It is the most versatile type of
register with no security parameters applied to it. Each WRITE is immutable, but with it being RAW, it can only be overwritten by the owner of it. WRITE is only permissible if done from the signature chain that is the current owner.
— An append register is similar to a raw register in that it is created
with a given number of bytes, but this type of register can only have an
operation applied to it to change the data state. This means that in the
database itself, the original data always exists before it, and so does
the history of all APPEND operations. A WRITE operation on this type of register will fail, even if done by the current owner. Therefore, an APPEND
register has security parameters associated with it that make it useful
for applications that would like to be able to update a register
without losing the data that existed before it. This makes every APPEND immutable but able to be modified.
TYPE::READONLY — This type of register is useful for a ‘write once’ type of register. It is only possible to use the ‘OP::REGISTER’
operation for this type, since it can only be written to once. This
would be similar to a ‘const’ type in any language, and contains
security properties that are useful for certificates of authenticity,
titles, deeds, or contracts that the creator/publisher would like never
to be modified.
registers are more specialized, as it is necessary for the operations
layer to be able to recognize the data type that they contain. This is
useful for specialized operations that require knowledge of the format
of the data that the register contains. The following Objects are
defined and useable in the current source code.
— This is a specialized register that contains details regarding
someone’s account. An account can contain the balance of any type of
token, as it is denoted by a token identifier. Token identifier 0 is a
reserved identifier and is used for the native NXS token.
— This is a specialized register that contains the details of a token,
and claims that token identifier for use of the specific token. This
register contains information regarding the significant figures of a
token, and other parameters to define the total supply, and the total
supply that has been made available to the public.
operations layer now contains a foundational set of processes, which
act as the ‘Primitive’ operations. These together allow the creation of
records, history, tokens, transfers, and non-fungible tokens. Let us go
through each operation one by one, to explain what each one is capable
operational code creates a new register with a memory address assigned
to it. The memory address must be unique, and will index the data of the
register. Think of it as an abstracted memory address that comes from
getting the memory location of a variable (in the programming language
C/C++, this would be with the symbol ‘&’ which is an abstract of a
machine address), but it lives in the Nexus Blockchain. This will be
further abstracted towards Amine, when addresses will not only be ‘locally accessible, but will be ’network accessible’.
Though replicating the exact same state across the system does provide
added levels of redundancy, it evidently limits the potential of the
system to scale. Creating shards of the data work load into ‘network accessible’ groups
is therefore necessary, where specialized processing is performed by
different groups and types of nodes, whilst retaining the levels of
redundancy that replication provides.
specific addressing is one of the innovations that is designed to solve
the data overhead problem outlined in the above section regarding
scaling. The two most notable bottlenecks that limit scaling are
signature verification and the increasing amount of data overhead that
compounds very quickly as volume increases. A scalable system is not one
that can simply ‘process’ X many transactions per second, but one that
can still function after processing X many transactions per seconds for
years on end. Even if one were to use conventional data structures that
go as low as O(log n), when the system scales to billions of keys, the
processing can still become quite large, especially when indexing from
This primitive operation initiates a ‘write’ on a register, which overwrites all the data of the pre-state with the new data of the post-state. It has certain limitations such as the register must be a TYPE::RAW
type, and the total number of bytes being written must be the same as
what it had prior. This type of operation is generally best suited for
applications that are submitting raw data into the ledger, to enable the
immutable storage of certain events such as submitting a proof hash
into the public ledger from a hybrid system, or having their application
require certain JSON to be submitted into a register
This primitive operation acts on a register of TYPE::APPEND,
and adds data to the end of the register, without modifying the
original data. Useful examples of this operation would be, flagging a
title to that is claimed by an insurance company, or updating specifics
about an item along a supply chain. Since the original data is always
retained in the append sequence, updates to a register via OP::APPEND
provide a useful audit and history mechanism.
allows the ownership of a register to be transferred from one signature
chain to another. A transfer can also be instantiated to another
register such as a TYPE::TOKEN
if someone would like a token to govern the ownership of a register.
This is how joint ownership can be provided between individuals, as the TYPE::TOKEN
then represents the ownership. This can also be useful for showing the
chain of custody between parties of a supply chain. If one wants to
create non-fungible tokens, this would be the method that is used to
transfer the ownership of the non-fungible token, with the non-fungible
token generally being a TYPE::READONLY
register with an identifier specifying parameters regarding an object.
This could be a simple digital item with JSON specifications, and the
transfer operation would be the proof of ownership of that digital item
or non-fungible token.
operation is responsible for the commitment of funds from one account
to another. It is quite like the ‘authorize’ of a debit card
transaction. When this operation is instantiated, the funds do not move
to the receiving account until the other user (the receiver) issues
their credit. The acceptance of the transaction by the receiver
completes the commitment. This operation works only on a TYPE::ACCOUNT object register, and can handle the debiting from any type of token by any identifier.
operation is responsible for the final commitment of funds from one
account to another. Together the debit and credit produce a ‘two-way
signature’, which reduces the chance of funds being lost due to the use
of an incorrect address. If the funds are not accepted by the receiver
within a specified time-window, they are then redeemable by the OP::DEBIT
issuer. Therefore, funds will never be lost if sent to an invalid
address. Another additional benefit of this is allowing a user to reject
funds sent to their account if there is question of who the funds came
from. It also provides the option to generate a whitelist of addresses
from which the user will automatically accept transactions from. This is
important for monetary safety, as if you receive a mysterious deposit
in your account, there is no knowing who or why it reached you.
What are the next operations?
next two operations are very important, as they unlock the ‘validation
scripts’ which act as small computer programs that define the movement
of NXS. Validation scripts enable the full potential of the operations
layer, allowing functions such as the decentralized exchange of assets
to tokens, tokens to tokens, irrevocable trusts, programmable accounts,
The validate function will execute the corresponding OP::REQUIRE
with the necessary parameters. If the validate executes to true, then
the required will be satisfied and therefore the validated transaction
will set a boolean expression that will be required to evaluate to true
in order for a transaction to be claimable. Such an example would be OP::REQUIRE TIMESTAMP GREATER_THAN1549220657, meaning that a corresponding transaction would not be able to execute until the timestamp has been reached.
Introducing the DEX
The DEX will work as a native extension of the OP::REQUIRE and OP::VALIDATE operations. It can be thought of as this:
User A wishes to sell 55 of Token Identifier 77. They want to sell it for Token Identifier 0 (NXS).
They choose their price: OP::DEBIT <from-account> <claim-account> 55 OP::REQUIRE TIMESTAMP LESS_THAN 1549220657 AND OP::DEBIT <my-account> 10.
In this above script <my-account> will be an account with identifier 0, and <from-account> will be of token identifier 77.
User B wishes to buy the 55 of Token ID 77. They send a transaction such as: OP::VALIDATE <txid> OP::DEBIT <from-account> <to-account> 10
Since this includes an OP::VALIDATE, it triggers the validation of the corresponding OP::REQUIRE submitting the parameters it is verifying. Since the OP::DEBIT was one of the parameters to the OP::REQUIRE, this will evaluate to true, satisfying the validation script.
User A can now submit a transaction: OP::CREDIT <txid> <claim-account> 55
User B can now submit a transaction OP::CREDIT <txid> <claim-account> 10
the above sequence, 4 transactions are executed to facilitate the
decentralized exchange between two different types of tokens. This
process can also be programmed for the decentralized exchange of an
asset to a token, or even an asset to an asset. I will explain more on
how this works and how we see the growth of the DEX in the next TAO
API as it stands contains two types, Accounts and Supply. The
implementation details for now are therefore for the purpose of
demonstration only, using only a simple combination of operations such
as OP::APPEND, OP::TRANSFER, and OP::REGISTER, for example.
Please keep your eyes peeled for additional API calls that will be
shown in the API documentation. I will explain how to interact with the
Use a web browser to access the JSON responses.
can use a web browser to make API requests to your Tritium node. This
is achieved by submitting a GET request to the API endpoint. This will
always be the IP address of the node, and port 8080 followed by
An example would be:
above request will log you into the API and returns a session
identifier. The session identifier should be included in all subsequent
requests to the API for methods that require authorization. Your PIN is
required for any transaction requiring authorization to ensure that even
in a case where your username and password were compromised, your PIN
will still be required in order to access your account. This gives
similar properties to 2FA that most login systems utilize today.
Create a login page in your website powered by the Tritium daemon
can embed a custom HTML form into your website to use a Tritium daemon
as a secondary login system that gives verification properties to your
web service. In the future, a login over the API will also trigger a
unique EID that is coupled with the login, making your service immutable
to IP spoofing. The API handles application/x-www-form-urlencoded , so make sure to include your parameters in your form as follows:
page you are sent to afterwards will include the JSON response data
that includes the genesis ID and the session identifier to be used for
all subsequent calls to the API that require authorization. This way you
can give a user secure access to their signature chain through your
service node in your online service. Importantly this gives users a way
to access their sig chain without needing to run a full node, and
without giving up custodianship of their funds and account information.
Embed contracts into your web application.
Since the API supports application/x-www-form-urlencoded,
you are able to embed any contract functionality into your existing web
application, either by forwarding forms through the API and applying a
forwarding url to pass through, or by making custom forms that use the POST aspect of the API to process webforms. The above HTML example is a basic webform which can be integrated with your existing login system. To extend this, you can make calls to the API via AJAX
or more complex forms inside your system. This means that to build with
Nexus Advanced Contracts, all you need is to hire a web developer who
is able to ‘plug and play’ the correct sequence of API calls into your
Use contracts or tokens in your regular desktop application
The API also supports application/json to make requests to the API via any of our provided Software Development Kits (SDKs), so that your native application can take advantage of the API. Currently, we provide a Python SDK for use in any external python application, which can be found in the repository in the folder named ‘SDK’.
We would like to encourage developers to build software development
kits in their languages of choice for the API and contribute to the open
source development of Nexus.
Please refer to the following API documentation for up to date documentation on all API’s and calls that are available:
As any new call is implemented for -testnet or -private
mode, the corresponding documentation will be included. Please give
feedback if you find any information difficult to understand, and we
will modify the documentation to communicate it in a clearer manner
Logical / Interface
are making progress on the App Store, which will be a developer
friendly area to buy, sell and share Nexus apps. Our current design is
‘module’ based. However, this is only the first iteration of the App
Store. We will give more details on how the App Store will develop, and
how we will provide security to the applications supported by the App
Request for new standards
Standards in the API and requests for new calls can be formally submitted and discussed on this mailing list here: [email protected].
Requests to lower layers such as new register types or operations can
be submitted to the same location. Please do give feedback if you find
anything you believe could be improved.
Command-line Flags Available
following flags are available for use with the Tritium Daemon. Some are
experimental and are undergoing debugging, while others are hardened
and are ready for use.
-fastsync (experimental) — this flag will reduce your required synchronization time by a factor of 2.
— sync your tritium node on the mainnet with legacy rules. This will
allow you to run a Tritium node on the mainnet, which gives you access
to all the nice Tritium features such as sub second load time, quick
synchronization time, and database stability
— run your node in private mode to access the API functionality and
build local contracts. post-processing is done via a private block, and
clears in sub-second intervals
-legacy — use legacy specific RPC formatting for nodes that need to retain backwards compatible formatting
add foreign indexes for all blocks by height as well as by hash, allows
the indexing of blocks by height from disk, but requires extra disk
run your node in testnet mode over LISP or the regular underlay. This
will synchronize you to the test network, and require mining to produce
valid blocks and commit post-processing data from your API calls.
repository has specific semantics for each branch. The following list
will briefly describe the purpose of each branch, and what they mean for
you are testing:
Personal — any branch that is named after a user such as viz, jack, scottsimon, paul, or dino. We recommend NOT building from a personal branch, as the code you pull will be incomplete or in development.
Merging — this branch is used to merge code between developers. Any code that exists on merging is still considered ‘unstable’, so if you decide to test off of the merging branch, do so with a debugger (debug instructions below). We recommend NOT using this code unless you are a qualified tester or developer.
— this branch is used for pre-releases. This means that code is in Beta,
and is ready for wider public testing. Once code reaches staging, we
will periodically include pre-release candidates and binaries with
revisions and stability fixes. This branch is for public testing before
the release of official binaries.
— this branch will be the least updated, so if you are looking for the
most recent code, any of the aforementioned branches will keep you up to
date. Code is only pushed to master when a FULL
release is made, accompanied by a release candidate, binaries, and a
change log and description. The code on master can only be merged from
pre-releases in staging.
First, you will need to have a debugger handy. If you are on Linux, make sure to have gdb installed. This can be installed via: sudo apt-get install gdb
For OSX, the debugger will be included with your X-Code command-line tools named lldb
Next, make sure to build the source clean by issuing this command: make -f makefile.cli clean
Next compile it with: make -j 8 -f makefile.cli ENABLE_DEBUG=1
Once this completes, you will need to start Tritium up with your debugger such as: gdb nexus
This will then enter you into a new command-line console, in which you want to type: run -beta -fastsync -gdb
the -gdb flag, the daemon will close if you press the return key, due
to the debugger generally catching all the signals before the
If you ever run across a point where the program crashes, get the backtrace by issuing the following command: bt
Take this backtrace and submit it to the #dev channel in slack for assessment.
you have already been testing or are looking to start helping test the
core, I would like to extend a big thank you for all your help!
Check out docker if you want to deploy nodes over LISP. You can find docker documentation here:
that is about all I have to report as of now, I hope that you continue
to watch the progress on our repositories, continue to give us feedback,
and of course, have fun doing it! Remember, if you’re not having fun,
you’re not doing what you love, so on that note, I will leave you to
ponder on what it is that brings you the greatest joy. In the meantime:
Enterprise adoption is instrumental to blockchain technology becoming mainstream, and Nexus Advanced Contracts are the next step in leading this progression. Existing Smart Contracts have experienced issues in relation to ease of use and scalability due to a Turing complete system. Addressing these issues, Nexus has produced what is in essence a ‘Register-based Virtual Machine’, set for release in January 2019 with the Tritium upgrade. Tritium will allow developers to access the technology of Advanced Contracts simply through an API set. Before an explanation of Advanced Contracts is given, some context will be provided as to how conventional Smart Contracts function.
Smart Contracts are self-executing. Their design is to enforce the terms and conditions of a contract through programmable logic, reducing the need for third party intermediaries such as brokers and banks. Smart Contracts are an additional layer of processing above the ledger layer, i.e what is known as ‘the blockchain’, and are comparable to small computer programs that hold a state of information. The calculations of the contract are carried out by the processing nodes of a blockchain, which change the state of the information. Given that the calculations or processing is carried out by distributed consensus, the state of a Smart Contract is immutable.
Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency with built-in Smart Contract capabilities, which it calls ‘scripts’. Scripts are not Turing complete and contain byte code. Ethereum augmented these capabilities into its ‘Turing Complete Smart Contracts’, which are generic to developers’ needs. Ethereum gives developers more access to contract functionality on a blockchain through a custom programming language called Solidity, which is then compiled into assembly language that is run on the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). The EVM is a ‘Stack-based Virtual Machine’ that processes each instruction in turn.
Though very capable, Ethereum has experienced some issues in regards to security, performance, and ease-of-use, predominantly because of its Turing complete design. Some notable cases include the $75m DAO hack on Ethereum, and the $286m Parity bug. Vulnerabilities existed due to the large complexity of a Turing complete system, and the resulting difficulty of resolving bugs in a protocol written in immutable code. The complexity of operations that support universal computation or Turing complete designs also limit scalability. A universal system has a higher degree of complexity, and can not therefore compete with technology that is designed for more specialized tasks. An example of this observation would be the comparison between a CPU (Central Processing Unit) with a ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) in the mining of cryptocurrency. A CPU can’t compete against a SHA256 miner, as its complexity and design is geared to support universal general computation, not specialized computation. A similar conclusion could be drawn when a comparison is made between the system design of Ethereum (universal), and Nexus (specialized).
Nexus Advanced Contracts
Nexus has developed a ‘Register-based Virtual Machine’, a specialized contracting engine with greater capabilities than the EVM. Unlike the the EVM, which is defined by only two distinct layers of processing and is dependent on a Turing complete system, the Nexus contract engine is facilitated through the seven individual layers of the Nexus Software Stack, each designated to carry out specialized processes.
The third layer of processing is called the Register Layer. Here, the states of individual pieces of information contained by Advanced Contracts are recorded in architectural components called registers. Registers are used by typical computer processors and provide easy access to memory storage of frequently used information or values. With respect to Nexus Advanced Contracts, each register is owned by a Signature Chain. Therefore, the ownership and write access of a register is validated by the second layer, the Ledger Layer. The fourth layer is the Operation Layer which defines the rules of the state changes to a register, called ‘operations’. The operations are carried out by validating nodes that change the state of the registers by distributed consensus. The design provides the required functionality of a contract engine, without the over complexity and complications of a Turing complete system.
The ownership of a register can be transferred providing many proof of ownership use cases. Examples of such include titles, deeds, digital certificates and records, agreements, or any other digital means of representing tangible assets or time-stamped events. A register can also be owned and governed by another register, creating a relationship between many users. Relations can be used as proofs on the Operation Layer to provide additional functionality. An example of this would be a register that holds metadata representing the ownership of an item, and it being owned by another ‘token register’. The token ownership signifies partial ownership of the item, which provides the possibility for further use cases such as royalty payments with split ownership.
Conditions or stipulations can also be coded into Advanced Contracts by validation scripts or Boolean logic. Validation scripts require a transaction to fulfill a certain set of conditions to execute, which allows a user to program in stipulations on the exchange of NXS, tokens or any other digital asset. This allows a user to void transaction orders, place time locks on funds, or exchange any digital asset without a central intermediary.
Advanced Contracts which will be accessible through an API set will be able to improve many existing processes, including digital ownership, tokenization of assets and enterprises, digital rights, royalty payments, supply chain management, escrow services, financial applications, legal documentation of digital signatures, and many more.
The standards of object registers, operation codes, and API methods will be defined through working group consensus, to ensure a consistent connection between developers and users. Nexus borrows a similar model to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) that provides the working groups for all RFC (Request for Comments) standards. This is important to drive a vibrant ecosystem forward. Just as we have seen with the success of the internet, we hope to continue this success in the next era of global connection: blockchain, artificial intelligence, and satellite communication.
With the highly anticipated release of the Nexus Tritium Mainnet scheduled for the end of January 2019, application developers will be able to interact with the functionalities of the Nexus blockchain through an easy to use, feature-rich API set. APIs will create user-friendliness for developers who will be able to build in a wide range of languages, and interoperability for existing private systems to interact with the Nexus blockchain. Nexus has designed its software stack based on the Open System Interconnection (OSI) network reference model, with the fifth layer as the API layer.
What is an API?
An API is an Application Programming Interface. While a user interacts with a system through a user interface, an API allows developers to interact through a programmatic interface. The way this works is that the API provides a list or set of simple commands that execute a series of operations, which would otherwise require specialist programming knowledge. This allows a developer to request or submit data to a system providing functionality to a higher-level application. For example, Facebook’s Graph API allows access to “Login with Facebook” and other features of their system.
The distributed validation method provided by a public blockchain or Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) (on-chain) is very secure in comparison to that of a private blockchain (side-chain) or centralized database (off-chain), because it is validated by many nodes forming a global consensus. However, private blockchains which are serviced by their own nodes provide other benefits that are much easier to develop and scale. One such benefit is to record proofs of private, sensitive, or proprietary data that are generally stored in a private database. This provides the private database the ability to edit or delete this data, in order to comply with regulations such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), while maintaining the positive qualities of immutable proofs from the private blockchain. An optimum balance between a Public Ledger, Private Ledgers, and Private Databases, will provide the performance and efficiency necessary for global adoption.
Nexus is developing the systems to enable private networks to utilize the public ledger, creating what is essentially a hybrid system, through an array of both private and public ‘template’ use case APIs. Public APIs will be provided by Nexus as open source technology, while Private APIs will be developed with businesses as their proprietary technology.
Nexus welcomes any interested parties to participate in our working groups to help shape the standardization process for the Nexus Software Stack, as we continue to develop the standardization body for DLT, similar to how the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) shapes the internet.
In addition to accessing the Public APIs, developers will be able to build their own Private APIs, providing the privacy of a permissioned system required to keep proprietary information and logic concealed, while harnessing the security of a public blockchain. This is possible through the use of state recording checkpoints between the private and public networks to ensure that agreements in the private network are also recorded in the public network, shown by the diagram below.
Given that only the aggregated state of the private ledger is recorded, sensitive or private data is not stored on the public ledger. Therefore, private APIs can secure proprietary contract logic, such as private supply chains, notaries, consumer verification services, etc., providing private services that the public layers are unable to. Since a private API functions as its own private network that synchronizes to the public network, one can expect the level of reliability and security of DLT. A private network can be operated under a software services license, or by the commissioner of a said API service. The final result, is a robust service that provides interoperability with existing private systems.
Nexus Private API Service for Enterprise range from hosting solutions to full private API buildout. Private APIs can be custom-built either by Nexus on behalf of a private client, or by any third party with or without consultation. Private testnets can also be provided during development to avoid loading the public and final private ledger with redundant data.
It is often claimed that the ratio of demand to supply for blockchain developers is 20:1, which has led to the high costs associated with blockchain development and low business adoption. Since most programmers are already comfortable interacting with an API, building on the Nexus API can be as simple as developing a web-app. Through improvements in accessibility, Nexus is set to significantly reduce the barriers to entry for blockchain technology.
The Nexus Tritium update implements Signature Chains (Sigchains) that enable account-based transactions and create a unique cryptographic identity system on the blockchain. This allows a user to safely transfer and prove ownership of assets and data through advanced contracts.
Sigchains provide a cryptographic identity and a proof of ownership system. When a user publishes, transfers, or leases data, an event is recorded. This allows for a relationship between users and transparent chains of events to be recorded that provide the utility of managing assets and data: titles, deeds, patents, currency, records, music, copyrights, trademarks, websites, medical records etc.
Access to your Sigchain will be through a distributed login system which will generally include a username, password, and a 2FA pin code (Two-Factor Authentication). This can be comparable to logging into an online bank account without a central authority that could hack or control your information. A Sigchain identifies who you are on the blockchain without you having to disclose any personal data, such as birth name or passport number. They also remove the need for a wallet.dat for key storage that is commonly required in legacy blockchain systems.
As we progress into the 21st century, biometrics are becoming increasingly prevalent in our lives. Since a Sigchain is essentially a distributed login system, biometrics could be easily integrated. Though useful, it is important to note that biometrics function well only as a username, not a password. We leave our fingerprints and imprints of our face in digital media all over the world, so we wouldn’t want biometrics to be used in the way many devices use them today.
Unique Routing Identity
Locator / ID Separation Protocol (LISP) on the Network IP Address Layer decouples the endpoint identifiers (EIDs) from routing locators (RLOC’s), providing static addresses while roaming across many networks (Wi-Fi’s, Cellular, Satellite, etc.). By coupling the Sigchain with an EID, the routing identity of any node can be verified through the ledger. This prevents an endpoint from spoofing an EID, and provides the ability to discern the reputation and reliability of who one is communicating with. The result of this is the reduction of fraud, hacking, fake accounts, and identity theft for both consumers and service providers.
Signature Chain Process
A small amount of Proof-of-Work is required to create a Sigchain. The first event of every Sigchain is the creation of the Genesis transaction and the corresponding GenesisID which registers it on the Ledger Layer. A user can then create a register that represents an account, token, some other digital data or asset. The event is witnessed by a consensus of nodes that verify the cryptographic proof corresponding to the Sigchain.
The diagram below shows the transference of a patent register and the corresponding balance transfer of NXS. The transfer of the patent is conditional on the required debit or commitment of funds. If the validation script evaluates to true (REQUIRE DEBIT), then a temporal proof can be produced, allowing the corresponding OP_CREDIT and OP_CLAIM to take place.
Nexus Signature Chains
Why Signature Chains?
Sigchains create user-friendliness through a distributed login system. They facilitate account-based transactions which replace the clunky legacy UTxO (Unspent Transaction Output) architecture, making transactions and their corresponding verification process lightweight and efficient. They enable easy prevention of dust spam attacks, allowing for low cost transactions.
Sigchains also provide additional resistance to both classical and theoretical quantum computing attacks. This is achieved by updating the key-pairs after every transaction and obfuscating them until they are used. They also provide a key-management authorization system.
Different forms of reputation can be established and recorded by a Sigchain and verified through the ledger. These reputations can be referenced and utilized by other distributed applications. Sigchains are also fundamental to the recording of Trust which supports the security of the 3DC (Three Dimensional Chain).
Welcome to the next update of the TAO update series, to continue the journey through the development of the TAO Framework. This particular article is centered around Tritium, our version 3.0 software client.
Are we ready?
Alright, here we go. The following includes a list of all the most recent code changes since the last “git pull origin master”.
Wow, that’s a lot of changes. It’s interesting to look back on it and see how much has been accomplished. As shown here, there was a total of 5,885 new lines of code, with 3,980 lines replaced. This generally means that there was some older code replaced with new, better code, along with almost 2,000 lines of new and fresh code.
Now we get to explore what it is that was changed on the more granular detail level, to present to you what will be included in the Tritium update.
Since the last update, there have been some improvements to the Network, or the LLP in our instance. So what is it that makes the network important?
The network is responsible for all end-to-end communication.
If the network was unable to propagate messages, the core peer to peer network would be unable to function. The crypto (LLC) in our case is an overlay for certain network messages to deal with cryptographic objects such as our transactions or blocks. Let us look at the newest results of the LLP in action (you would have also seen this in my Tritium presentation at the 2018 Nexus Conference, linked here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2pdz4zO38k).
Here it’s good to see requests top out at 197,744 per second as the LLL is the foundation for the TAO, hence the repository name LLL-TAO(shhh, you’ll see the code soon enough if you can find it).
The next aspect of the Network that was formally demonstrated by Dino Farinacci is the LISP architecture, and how it fundamentally works together with the Ledger to provide a safer data layer on the internet. As we know right now, there are a lot of the same problems with identity: it used to be seen that the internet was a place full of fake accounts, trolls, and misinformation. Lately though, we have discovered that the internet can be full of amazing things and incredible possibilities for promoting the ideas of freedom and prosperity.
Now, one of the reasons the network has been plagued with the negative aspects is that there is no trust layer in the actual system. We have no way to identify someone other than their IP address which is easy to forge or fake by any means. This can create problems, because one cannot reliably know who they are talking to (this doesn’t mean they need to know personal information, but rather consistency across identities). Now, with tying LISP and Nexus together over the ledger, we create the ability to establish a cryptographic identity of the user. This happens over the network with the static EID in LISP, and over the ledger with a signature chain for a user. This becomes very important for reducing fraud and identity theft, which is one of the focal points for Nexus.
The ledger consists of the series of events that establish the ownership of any register in the stack. This makes the ledger operate very quickly, since it doesn’t have an incredible overhead in processing requirements beside general cryptographic functions. The biggest bottleneck of the Ledger falls under the LLC (Lower Level Cryptography), as this is where the cryptographic verification happens. The newest results of a Ledger scaling test (transactions only, no blocks in this test) shows over 4.3k tx/s capable of being processed by a single node.
This generates a good picture of what a full LLL stack running real transaction data over it would look like. This shows that the LLD is easily keeping up with the demand of writing over ~1,500 Kb/s (Bitcoin has a maximum of ~1.7 Kb/s). The reason for the slowness in Bitcoin is because of the block size limit of 1Mb every 10 minutes. In this case, we wanted to demonstrate the efficiency of the LLL stack in its capability to handle large loads of data. This particular example shows the maximum processing capabilities of one node, which essentially would be the limits of one L1 state processing channel. The signature aggregation being passed from L1 to L2 through L1 verification nodes in a 3DC would enable greater levels of the scalability without sacrificing the security of a global set of consensus validators.
Operating well, with a simple data structure that allows easy indexing and locating of the signature chain transaction history and identification of register ownership. Since the signature chain GenesisID is of a 256-bit number space, it is easy to transfer the permissions of a register to be owned by a signature chain, or simply another register. This sets the foundation now of the Nexus Digital Identity System.
Let’s recap what a register is for better context here:
A register is a data object that changes state through global consensus, or a logical layer application.
Why are registers important?
Computers are state machines by nature. They contain a value that correlates to something on the outside world and change this value based on a sequence of logic. I know this sounds complicated, but in reality, it is quite simple.
If I have 5 apples, I record this number in a register I own to prove I have these 5 apples. When other people can ask me how many apples I have, I can give them my register address, and they can see, ahh, viz. has 5 apples. Now if I sell an apple, let us say through an order I put on the network saying: I’ll give you this 1 apple if you give me 0.1 NXS, then we are able to have state changes recorded and verified by the network, correlated to financial transactions.
This means that if someone were to make this transfer into my contract order it could execute the state change of my total apples of value 5 to value 4, while I send off the apple to the lovely customer. This is a crude example, I know, but the intention of it is not to show secure program logic — but rather, logic that shows the use of a register on Nexus.
Now that we have gotten this out of the way, let us look into what Object registers have been defined as of this update:
Each of these 4 objects are objects that can have the state changed through the ledger consensus mechanism. This is important for Tokens, Escrow, Orders, and Accounts as I shouldn’t be able to modulate the balance of my account without approval from the network. The downside to having the ledger do all the state changing of the registers through the operation codes is the resource requirement of all nodes to process this state change and ensure that it does not create a conflict with another state. It becomes very important to find the balance between logical and ledger state changes, as the network doesn’t always need to know everything that the logical layer is doing, and the logical layer shouldn’t be doing everything that the ledger is doing. This distinction is important for understanding how Nexus Advanced Contracts will scale to levels of requirement for mass adoption.
Raw State registers on the other hand are defined through specifications on the Logical layer. They operate very quickly because nodes only need to write the data, address, and owner of the register. Only the owner of this register will be capable of writing a new state to it if it is not defined as read-only. This allows the Logical / Interface layers (The Application Space) to state record important data to their system such as hashes to IPFS files, private database transactions, or even to create authorization objects to modulate the state of their database based on user actions.
The following operations are implemented fully, with functionality that executes through the vchLedgerData data member of the Tritium Transaction class:
1. OP_WRITE: Write a new state to a register address given as a parameter to the operation code.
2. OP_REGISTER: Create a new register on the network. It must contain a unique register address, claiming it for this signature chain.
3. OP_TRANSFER: Transfer ownership of a register to another signature chain, or to another register address. This is an important function for establishing the ownership of data by signature chain, and the supply chain that moves it from one owner to the next.
4. OP_DEBIT: Debit a token from a given Account Object Register. This is the commitment of funds operation that gives the recipient the ability to claim with a corresponding credit. The balance of the debit that can be claimed is determined by the percentage ownership displayed through the temporal proof.
5. OP_CREDIT: Claim a balance referencing the transaction debit that was used to commit funds to the given receive account. If a credit is claiming a debit fund from an account they are joint owner of through register chain, a temporal proof is required to satisfy the display of their ownership.
The method that processes the operation codes is called execute:
This method is responsible for the changing of the states on the ledger level, as operations are instructions to the processing nodes to modulate the state of a register through global consensus. The operations and register layers are being designed to be processed on higher locking levels of the 3DC (namely L2), to ensure that transaction processing is broken up across multiple node layers which adds to our ability to scale the advanced contract processing.
If an operation code is followed by a validation script it will require the validation boolean logic to evaluate to true if an operation code is to be claimable as a proof. What this means is that a certain logic needs to be true for that operation to be claimed. An example would be, “Do not call me past 9:00 PM”, if one was to try and make a phone call the call would not be possible.
src/TAO/Operation/include/validate.h | 54 ++++++
A simple example of this would be relating to debits and credits, where one could put stipulations on the OP_DEBIT requiring the time to be of a certain point in the future. What this would result in is the OP_CREDIT satisfying this script by being submitted past the timestamp that was required. This allows one to program logic beyond the basic operation logic to create greater functionality and customization.
The Application Programming Interface will use what is termed JSON (Java Script Object Notation) to submit commands to the nodes that create these state changes in the register, resulting in program logic that gives us the ability to use advanced contracts.
The API will have two components, public and private.
This is important, as the public API will always be developed with public funds through the multiple Nexus Embassies, and provide the required functionality for public use. This will include most of the use cases and programmable logic.
The reason for this is for the integration of businesses that require some of their application logic to be more specialized as far as API functionality, due to the proprietary nature of their developments. This also becomes a “software-as-a-service” integration opportunity for an Embassy to generate additional revenue streams, in which the profits can be recycled back into the core development process.
Logical and Interface
The new Nexus Tritium Wallet is now in public beta. The launch of this has brought an incredible amount of feedback and bug reporting to improve the interface and logical layers. As many of you already know, we provide one common interface for such functionality, where any other distributed application developers will be able to develop their own.
The logical layer is where most of the processing gets done. It is an extended application space through the OSI.
It is important to understand this, because the idea of a blockchain carries many connotations that extend beyond just the ledger. It can coordinate many systems, have private networks that operate and state record off the ledger, access control schemes, state recording based on user actions, and the list can go on. We like to leave this area open for any new type of developers to extend their application space from the conventional OSI design.
What’s in Our Future?
As you can see from this blog post, most of the hard developing is now complete for Tritium. This means that we are in the stage of weaving together code over the network, establishing local databases to handle your sigchain and register indexes, and adding lower level RPC commands to interact with the Ledger, with the higher level API being the interface in the command set.
What does this mean?
Tritium will be released by the end of January, 2019. Yes — I said it — a timeline. As we have noticed over the last year, the removal of roadmaps and timelines did not do what was intended, it only created further uncertainty and rumors in the project. As we are moving into Chapter 3 of our history books with distributed Embassies, newer architecture, and distributed governance models, we felt it was appropriate to augment this with commitments from the development team to set and meet deadlines.
At the 2018 Nexus Conference, Colin Cantrell, Nexus Founder and Software Architect, gave a brilliant presentation explaining the latest developments of the Nexus Tritium protocol. Tritium is the first release of the Nexus Three Dimensional Blockchain (3DC), and will be followed by Amine and Obsidian. He explained the necessity of each layer of the Tritium software stack (Network, Ledger, Register, Operations, Logical, API and Interface), their different functions, and gave a deeper explanation of the Lower Level Library (LLL). Colin displayed some impressive benchmark tests comparing the Nexus Lower Level Database (LLD) read / write speed to Ripple Nu DB, Google Level DB and Oracle Berkeley DB (spoiler: Nexus tested faster than all). He also demonstrated a live, functioning demo of Tritium with the entire stack running, and introduced many business use cases for advanced contracts.
The 3DC and the Tritium Software Stack
The design of the 3DC and the identification of node roles enables different nodes to perform different processes in parallel. This fundamental quality lays the foundation for scalable advanced contracts. The software stack also enables developers from all levels of experience to develop on the layer that is most suited to them. Colin explained that the stack design was inspired by nature: “As we know nature grows out in layers. Matter has certain layers of responsibility, where simple protons, neutrons and electrons form together a simple atom. They then start to form covalent Hydrogen or ionic bonds and then form molecules that form tissues and organs”.
Colin also gave a deeper explanation of the Lower Level Library (LLL), a polymorphic (able to inherit a class from a base class) template library and the foundation of Nexus. He compared the significantly faster performance of the Lower Level Database to other databases used in Bitcoin (Berkeley DB), Ethereum (LevelDB), and Ripple (NuDB). He highlighted the importance for the fundamental layers (Network and Ledger) to scale, as it supports the scalability of all the layers built on top (Register, Operation, API, etc.). The beauty of the LLL is that you can plug in any kind of processing system while maintaining high levels of scalability.
Here are the results of Colin’s 100,000 reads / writes benchmark test:
The Lower Level Protocol (LLP) is a custom-made network protocol that is responsible for end-to-end communication between nodes. Colin explained why he created the LLP: “the way that sockets are managed has a large influence on the ability to handle a large amount of connections and requests per second”. A screenshot of a Lower Level Protocol test showed it running at 194,761 requests per a second with over 1,000 simultaneous connections. Such high levels of scalability have been achieved by squeezing computing cycles through fundamental simplicity. He reiterated the importance of reducing the routing complexity to O(1) through IP-Multicast, so that the addition of nodes to the network does not decrease its performance. This makes the network less vulnerable to eclipse attacks and allows for larger blocks as messages propagate faster. Additionally, the Location/Identifier Separation Protocol (LISP) decouples your address space from your input identifiers, allowing the traversal of NATs (Network Address Translation) and the encryption of all data, creating a fully encrypted peer-to-peer communication system.
The Ledger layer manages register ownership and is responsible for maintaining data immutability. Ownership of data is proven on this layer through a cryptographic proof provided by Signature Chains. The Ledger layer of the Nexus public blockchain is not a storage system like the Cloud, but is instead “an ownership tracking device that allows immutable ownership to be stored, that other private systems can connect into”. This begs the question, why not simply create a private blockchain? “Well, because then you have a private MySQL database.” With a public blockchain, the more people that contribute resources toward validation, the more secure it is. Colin went on to explain that some blockchains with more centralized consensus mechanisms, such as Delegated Proof-of-Stake protocols, may be vulnerable to Zero Day attacks.
Colin was especially excited to present the Register layer of the Tritium software stack. Registers are stateful objects owned by the signature chain that published it. They form a relational database model, where the relationship between different registers can be managed by cryptographic proofs on the Ledger layer below. Registers can be chained to one another with coupled validation logic in order to record and track change in ownership, or to create multi-signatory accounts. Registers currently fall into two categories: raw state registers that store raw bytecode that can be read or modified by authorized accounts, and object registers, which are predefined, serialized classes that update and change state through the Ledger. For example, object registers can store the state of an account’s token balance, which can be used as a proof of ownership in another register, such as an escrow. The Register architecture makes Nexus significantly different than any other blockchain. Using the Operation layer built on top of the Register layer, registers can be transferred, read, or modified in different ways. These two layers together create what Nexus has termed an Advanced Contract. Unlike Ethereum and most other smart contract implementations that are stack-based and use a large number of operations, registers are very efficient, as accessing the value of a register is an order of one O(1), because its exact index is known.
While other smart contracts are executed by the nodes on which they reside, often requiring a specialized compiler and interpreter to execute the contract, advanced contracts can use the Operations layer to perform predefined operations on the registers. Additionally, distributed applications can be written and executed on clients computers, using raw state registers to store data. Operations are byte-code functions that change registers from one state to another. For example, a DEBIT will change the state of an account balance if authorized to do so. Likewise, a receiver will use this temporal proof to CREDIT their account by way of another state change. Colin explained how validation logic could be created by users to set parameters, i.e. escrow functions, and emphasized the importance of standardizing operations and registers through an open process to define secure and efficient logic. To that end, Colin welcomed all to participate in the working groups to help shape the standardization process, like an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) for blockchain.
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) allow easy, high-level interaction with the internals of a system. Nexus plans to make integration with blockchain technology seamless by abstracting the OSI Application layer above the aforementioned layers through APIs. The Logical layer will handle the interpretation of API calls and will populate results to the end user on the interface. Meanwhile, the Application layer will do most of the processing and data handling. The Ledger will only be used for validation and authorization, i.e tokenization and other forms of ownership. This allows developers the freedom to build their own applications at the logical/interface layers, while having access to the ledger and contract logic through JSON-APIs. This is important for many businesses, as they have sophisticated systems that already use many different APIs. There are many different use cases for a blockchain, which is why Nexus is focusing on scalability and ease of interoperability with old systems.
Tritium Live Demonstration
Colin’s live demo of Tritium showed how signature chains interact with one another and how the Ledger, Register, and Operations layers work together to create register chains and tokenized ownership. The Operation layer includes DEBIT, CREDIT, REGISTER, and WRITE operation codes. The Register layer used state proofs, ownership proofs, register chains, and account / token object registers. The demo showed the Ledger with two signature chains and demonstrated how a royalties payment could be executed in real time, based on ownership proofs represented by the corresponding token balance of the two signature chains. The token, called ART with a 100 ART max supply, was published to the Ledger. One signature chain was created with 50 ART and the other with another 50 ART, showing a 50-50 ownership. From there, one signature chain published metadata representing a song, with ownership assigned to the token object register. This allows a signature chain to prove partial ownership based on a token balance. This process takes about five database writes, which is a very low level of complexity, considering the LLD can handle hundreds of thousands of writes per a second. The next transaction demonstrated a debit operation from a native NXS object register, directly into the metadata register address, which then waited to be claimed. Colin explained that a CREDIT has to be claimed from a DEBIT, meaning that NXS will not be lost if sent to an invalid address. All tokens on Nexus are going to transfer as quickly as the NXS native token, taking only two operations.
Colin then demonstrated how the tokens are used as a temporal proof to claim 50% of the debit. He also attempted a double spend, to prove security, which failed, as the temporal proof had already been claimed by the object register holding the state of the balance of ART tokens on that signature chain. The owner of the other signature chain is then asked to provide their temporal proof from the state of their ART token balance to claim their 50% of the 20 NXS debit (ie. 10 NXS). They credit it to their account using this proof. This is all recorded on the Ledger, essentially serialized into byte code, and is interpreted by the operations engine by the method EXECUTE. Colin then demonstrated another double spend attempt that failed, to prove that the temporal proofs work only once. This is really important, as tokens can currently only be used to hold an ICO. However, tokenization can be used in many different processes to prove ownership, as they can prove a wide variety of chained events.
New Use Cases for Tokens
Colin spoke about the future of Nexus by introducing many new use cases with genuine utility, such as the tokenization of ownership, data, or assets. Anyone who attended the conference could see the passion and excitement in Colin’s voice as he presented these innovative solutions. Colin strongly believes that through music, blockchain technology will reach many different people. In the music industry, a large percentage of royalties goes to middle men, as do revenues in other industries go to third parties. As the demo showed, tokens can be used in licensing and in the use of copyrights, to provide artists and musicians the opportunity to earn money for their creations. Tokenization in the music industry will increase with importance, especially with the new Music Modernization Act. Now, a music subscriber could make a debit by paying a license fee once a month that would be split, based on the token ownership. It is important to note that the tokens are transferable while also retaining their utility in providing temporal proofs to the Ledger. This will allow an artist to crowdfund their new album by selling a portion of their tokens to the public. These tokens could then be sold on an exchange, traded, speculated on, and also be used to receive royalty payments. This gives tokens real utility beyond value storage and provides artists a new way to connect with their fans.
Supply chain transparency could be created with ease by recording the change in state, as NXS moves between each level of the supply chain. Tokens could also be used for automatic budget allocation for revenue streams, creating layers of tokenized accounts, which would save a lot of resources that go to managing this manually. Across many industries, tokens could help fraud prevention, as tokenized revenue streams will create a transparent movement of funds. Colin explained that tokens could split rights between many different people in order to create joint ownership. For example, in the sale of a jointly owned house. Tokens could also support patent leasing. A group of inventors could create tokens to distribute to investors, without the need for legal paperwork. Colin affirmed that “you don’t need a court, as crypto is the court”. The investor only has to prove that they hold the tokens to claim their percentage of the available dividend. Likewise, tokens could be used to represent shares of a company. A certain percentage of the revenue stream could then be allocated to the token holders, so that the dividends disperse automatically. A token split could also be utilized between a car dealership and manufacturer. The token distribution between the two would define the ownership of the revenue from a lease of the vehicle, allowing the automatic clearance of the finances and frictionless payout of revenue.
A further example was for the distribution of donations to nonprofits to prevent internal embezzlement, and the inefficiencies of administrative and managerial cost. Tokenization could make charitable donation distribution just and transparent, ensuring that a definite % goes to the people in need. Colin also explained how registers, debits, and credits could form the foundation of a decentralized exchange. For example, a seller could put up an order on Nexus, as an exchange object, a debit for 50 ART requiring a 10 NXS debit to this register, to allow a credit based on that temporal proof. Once both debits are fulfilled, the 50 ART would be unlocked for credit to the new holder, along with the 10 NXS to the new owner. Arbitration triangles could also be created, using multi-signature contracts with three signatories, but only two required to unlock funds. The arbiter or neutral party could be a shipping company, who could resolve any dispute between buyer and seller. The arbiter would only have power if there was a disagreement. This would provide safety in escrow services, and prevent the risk of deadlocks in case one signatory doesn’t agree with the other. Colin further explained that tokenization will allow the creation of distributed autonomous organisations, through token votes, where tokens could be used as proofs for vote weights in such a DAO. He ended his excellent presentation with a long awaited demo of the new wallet.
Most companies are in the early days of understanding how blockchain technology can help them, and it’s important to educate them on what blockchain can and cannot offer. Some companies are already aware of the potential use cases of blockchain technology for their business model, but are finding limitations posed by other protocols, like the scaling issues of the Ethereum Smart Contracts Platform. The business development team helps businesses discern what they need from a public blockchain versus what can be accomplished with a public-private hybrid system, and welcomes anyone who thinks they could benefit from the technology to contact them.