Back in September, Ethereum core developer Nick Johnson penned an interesting piece to sum up some of the reservations he had for up-and-coming cryptocurrency company IOTA and its blockchain-alternative, Tangle.
While he insisted the post was merely intended as a critique addressed at some of the design and architecture flaws he saw in the technology, the situation escalated quickly, ultimately leading up to a minor Twitter argument between Johnson and IOTA co-founder, David Sønstebø.
Unlike standard blockchain solutions, IOTA relies on a slightly different technology to decentralize and distribute its ledger. Contrary to blockchain-based networks which use binary logic, IOTA’s so-called Tangle uses an alternative known as balanced ternary – a numerical system based on three, rather than two digits: -1, 0, and 1.
According to Sønstebø and co-founder Dominik Schiener, Tangle has many benefits over blockchain, including free transaction fees and better scaling opportunities. But Johnson didn’t see things this way.
Among other things, the Ethereum developer argued that, while Tangle sounds great in theory, it is bound to run into a number of practical issues that will prevent the technology from effectively tackling the problems it promises to solve.
“Unfortunately, neither of these are relevant in a practical system,” he noted. “IOTA is by necessity built to run on existing hardware, which is exclusively binary, as are the communication networks it uses. As a result, all of its internal ternary notation has to be encapsulated in binary, resulting in significant storage and computational overhead.”
“Math must either be performed on individual ‘trits’ or first converted from binary-wrapped-ternary encoding into the machine’s native number representation, and back again afterwards — in either case imposing a large computational overhead,” he added.
Almost two months later though, IOTA announced a massive partnership that would see Microsoft, Fujitsu, Samsung, Deutsche Telekom, and a number of other technology giants use its Tangle tech in the first-ever data marketplace built for the Internet of Things.
The news was welcomed with a huge wave of excitement within the larger cryptocurrency community – especially the IOTA community.
Soon after the announcement went live, some Twitter users took digs at Johnson, resurfacing his IOTA critique and juxtaposing it with quotes from the IOTA’s new stellar partners…