“Sharding in Action”
Many cryptocurrencies have emerged since the beginning of the year 2018. Some have performed excellently and some, after the launched date, could not bear the test of time.
The question is whether these coins are actually created to compete with the famous cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, or it’s just created for financial gain? We will never know.
Zilliqa is a cryptocurrency that was launched in December 2017. ZIL prides itself in providing an innovative high-throughput open blockchain platform that has been carefully planned to change in size and cater for hundreds of hundreds of transactions in a second.
It provides a reliable and secure on-demand transaction in the marketplace for people that need scalable blockchain technology.
ZIL’s birth is a nice approach towards helping people that really have been wanting for a high-throughput blockchain technology to emerge so that they can actually take those ideas and create world-class businesses out of it.
The exciting feature about ZIL is sharding which takes a very large network of computers and automatically divides them into sub-networks in a completely decentralized mechanism.
In recent times, what we’ve seen over the last year in cryptocurrency is that when the demand increases so do the transaction fees and that has made the usability of the blockchain scaling and high network demand to become a serious issue for Bitcoin.
What is Zilliqa?
Zilliqa is the second cryptocurrency that is originated from Singapore. ZIL has been under improvement for close to three years where the idea was born at the National University of Singapore.
ZIL is an open-source project that was developed to scale allowing a great number of exchanges per second. It is focused on secure data flow smart contracts and utilizes their high throughput for seamless and reliable blockchain transactions.
It uses an optimized Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance (PBFT) as a protocol for consensus as well as partnering Elliptic Curve Based Schnorr Signature Algorithm (EC-Schnorr) alongside Signature Aggregation.
Zilliqa breaks the network of blockchain nodes into separates sub-groups that are called shards. For each of these shards broken into small groups, ZIL processes and stretches to a consensus on a subgroup of transactions. This means that autonomous subsets of transactions can be processed in one accord and subsequently increase the transaction throughput.
In the recent public test snap, ZIL reached a peak throughput of 2,000 transactions per second with a thousand nodes. The interesting thing about ZIL is that the throughput increases almost literally as the size of the network increases. What this means basically is that the more transactions the faster the network will be. This is what Bitcoin doesn’t possess.
Furthermore, Zilliqa also uses a Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus to choose and continually update what is referred to as the directory service committee or the DS committee. This is used to carry out identity validation processing for nodes entering the network. The DS committee coordinates the sharding process and validates blocks of transactions proposed by shards and then they are committed to the blockchain.
ZIL uses PoW to prevent what’s called civil attacks which is a type of network attack based on the attacker forging their identity.
Zilliqa also supports smart contracts by using a new scripting language built specifically for sharding. This is because it gives the ability to programs in parallel to make use of the full computational power of the network.
Who created it?
The Zilliqa core team consists of some pretty and highly educated scientists, entrepreneurs and engineers with experience in the blockchain domain.
- Xinshu Dong
The CEO of Zilliqa. He has a PhD in computer science from the National University of Singapore. He has led several national cybersecurity projects in Singapore and he’s had his research published in different international conferences. More recently, he led the research and development of Anquan’s proprietary scalable and secure blockchain, deployed for financial and e-commerce applications.
- Prateek Saxena
The Chief Scientific Advisor. He has a PhD in computer science from the University of California, Berkeley. He’s a research professor in computer science at the National University of Singapore and was one of the co-authors of the first academic paper on sharding in a public blockchain which inspired the ZIL project.
- Yaoqi Jia
The Head of Technology. He has a PhD in computer science at the National University of Singapore. His prior experience focuses on building secure and privacy-preserving web and distributed systems with cryptographic mechanisms. He proposed several technologies in his research as the building blocks for next-generation blockchain, addressing consensus and privacy issues.
Why does it exist?
The major reason for creating ZIL is for scalability. It gives a large room to accommodate more people as they come and perform transactions on the network thus leading to a faster network. Awesome!
In 2015, the advisors of the ZIL team wrote the first academic paper on sharding as a scalability solution for public blockchains. Subsequently, the idea was implemented in a private blockchain setting and around 2017, ZIL was created as a spin-off project using the same underlying technology. But the truth is they were utilizing this technology in a public setting with the motive that it will power the next generation of applications.
According to the White paper…
Cryptocurrencies and smart contract platforms are becoming a shared computational resource. One could view these platforms as a new generation of computers that synchronize over thousands of individual computers.
The limitations in scaling up existing protocols are somewhat fundamental — they are rooted in the design of the consensus and network protocols. Therefore, even though reengineering the parameters of the existing protocols in say Bitcoin or Ethereum (e.g., the block size or the block rate) may show some speedup, to support applications that need processing of thousands of Tx/s, however, requires rethinking the underlying protocols from scratch.
We present ZILLIQA— a new blockchain platform that is designed to scale in transaction rates. As the number of miners in ZILLIQA increases, its transaction rates are expected to increase as well. Specifically, ZILLIQA’s design allows its transaction rates to roughly double with every few hundred nodes added to its network.
You can read the full Whitepaper here.
Zilliqa’s ability to perform a peak throughput during large transactions made the team behind it to state that they believe it has the potential to rival legacy payment methods such as Visa and MasterCard.
Mining incentives were introduced to encourage more people to come to the network. This mining incentive rewarded in such that when a node successfully mines a transaction block it is rewarded with newly created tokens.
The emission curve is expected to be front-heavy to incentivize miners to join early. It is believed that eighty percent of tokens will be mined in the first four years and the remaining twenty percent will be spread over the next six years. Block reward reductions will also happen gradually after 10 years.
In the future, it is believed that ZIL public main net version is scheduled to be released for the second quarter of this year, 2018, and dApps is scheduled for the third quarter.
The team also stated that they will be seeking out the implementation of interoperability layers as a direction of their future research but the present time their scalability is their main priority.
Zilliqa has partnered with its country insurance firm Deloitte. The essence of the partnership is to see how insurance services will perform on the blockchain network. If successful, Zilliqa’s impact in the insurance industry will be felt greatly in the near future.