MimbleWimble is a privacy-oriented blockchain protocol with mysterious origins. Much like other top privacy cryptocurrencies, MimbleWimble attempts to make transactions completely opaque, while still allowing for external verification.
Additionally, MimbleWimble looks to keep its blockchain’s size on disk as small as possible while maintaining quick verification for all clients.
So far, two privacy cryptocurrencies have launched on top of MimbleWimble technology: Grin and BEAM.
What is MimbleWimble?
The original MimbleWimble whitepaper was released on July 19, 2016, by an anonymous person that signed the whitepaper as “Tom Elvis Jedusor.”
Just a few months after the release of the original whitepaper, another anonymous person stated that they were working on an implementation of MimbleWimble, which would be known as Grin.
The name “MimbleWimble” and the signing name on the whitepaper are both references to JK Rowling’s Harry Potter novels. Where MimbleWimble is a spell that stops its target from being able to speak coherently. And the name “Tom Elvis Jedusor” is an anagram for “Je suis Voldemort”, the name chosen by the antagonist in the French version of the novels.
MimbleWimble has three goals that are outlined in its whitepaper:
MimbleWimble is first and foremost a privacy blockchain protocol. Its designer had a very good understanding of the privacy technologies it is built upon. And using that understanding, MimbleWimble’s designer created a new and more secure strategy that increases transaction privacy to a whole new level. We’ll go into the technical details of this below.
Blockchain size on disk is a major issue for those looking to run full nodes for any cryptocurrency. Put simply, blockchains grow. This growth makes maintaining a large number of nodes more problematic over time.
MimbleWimble’s designer saw blockchain size as a major issue and pushed to make MimbleWimble blockchains as small as possible. The whitepaper states that the technique used could reduce the size of Bitcoin blockchains from a size of 80GB to a size of 30GB. An impressive change, especially given that MimbleWimble maintains user privacy through this size reduction.
Quick to Verify
The last goal MimbleWimble aims for is verification speed. Having a tiny blockchain is only good if the processing power required to verify it is equally tiny.
Cryptocurrency Grin launches on MimbleWimble technology
MimbleWimble uses its own transaction and block schemes. They work together to hide transaction data as much as possible while still allowing verification to occur.
Put simply, both use zero-knowledge proofs, with blocks building on the math used in the transaction to further hide the information.
MimbleWimble has no concept of a blockchain address. Rather than tying all outputs to an address, outputs have no data regarding where they came from, and are spent via a private key.
This does mean that the wallets of the involved parties wallets have to talk to each other when making a transaction. But the method of communication and time taken is up to the user. One could, for example, negotiate a transaction using encrypted email.
MimbleWimble’s transactions use zero-knowledge proofs (specifically a mixture of Confidential Transactions and CoinJoin) for security. Outside verifiers can independently prove that no cryptocurrency was created or destroyed over the transaction. This is somewhat similar to how Monero secures its transactions, but with added protection from CoinJoin and the total lack of addresses.
Putting together a MimbleWimble transaction requires communication between both parties as discussed above. The following steps are what happens during that communication:
1. The parties agree on the amount to be transferred.
2. The sender picks the inputs they want to use to create the amount to be transferred and adds together all the blinding factors for that transaction.
3. The sender sends the transaction data to the receiver. The receiver then picks the blinding factors for the outputs of the transactions, adds them together, and sends them back to the sender along with any additional required information.
Once the above steps are complete, the transaction can be sent to the network and confirmed.
In the above steps, I mention a blinding factor. The blinding factor makes up part of the zero-knowledge proof system used in Confidential Transactions. It is the ‘missing part’ or the private key for each input – if you know the blinding factor for a given output, you can spend it. By adding together all the blinding factors for every input in the transaction, you can prove you own all the inputs used in the transaction, but not share the private keys.
Reduced blockchain size and increased verification speed
MimbleWimble blocks are different from the blocks employed in other blockchains. Only unspent outputs and new currency generation are saved. The idea being that you don’t need to know about every transaction ever to verify a blockchain. All you need to know is where all the currency is now, and where it all came from.
Storing just that data increases fungibility, user privacy, and verification speed. Much like above, anyone looking to verify the blockchain simply needs to verify that the sum of the inputs subtracted from the sum of the outputs equal zero.
The downside of MimbleWimble
Unfortunately, with the security that MimbleWimble provides, you lose some of the tech Bitcoin has.
For example, in order for all transactions to be consolidated in blocks, they have to be very similar. And due to the requirement for said similarity, MimbleWimble does not have any sort of script system.
Otherwise, due to the consolidation of transactions, MimbleWimble has no transaction history. Meaning that an external auditor or similar would be unable to monitor transactions directly.
MimbleWimble is a fantastic step forward in privacy crypto. If the upcoming launch of its first implementation GRIN goes well, and no issues are found in the algorithm, MimbleWimble will be a serious competitor in the privacy coin market. My only concern is whether or not the inability for even the owners of the currency to audit where it came from using the blockchain itself will deter large scale users.
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While the Ethereum roadmap isn’t definitively laid out, there are many important updates planned to take place in 2019. We can also expect to see more of the research that has taken place over the past two to three years begin to enter preliminary testing phases and eventual implementation on mainnet. Without further ado, here’s what you should know about Ethereum’s development efforts in 2019 and beyond.
How Will Ethereum Scale?
Ethereum has already accomplished a lot as a blockchain protocol since its initial project development began in 2014. With thousands of decentralized applications (dApps) built on top of Ethereum, it’s the clear leader of ecosystem creation amongst blockchain projects. However, a number of newer blockchain projects are beginning to challenge this. EOS, POA, and Steem are all excellent examples of blockchains that also have a number of native applications.
In early 2019, there are a number of challenges that remain unresolved for Ethereum. The primary focal point of Ethereum in the immediate future is clearly on improving Ethereum’s scalability.
Making an exact timeline for when we should expect to see these solutions implemented can be difficult. Nonetheless, it’s good to use estimated time frames based on various sources to show how close (or distant) Ethereum’s upgrades are.
The Ethereum Roadmap at a Glance
Raiden Red Eyes
Off-chain solution for faster and cheaper transactions.
Constantinople hard fork
January 16th, 2019
Lays the technical groundwork for significant scaling projects in the future.
The introduction of “child” chains off the main Ethereum blockchain for faster and cheaper transactions. Similar to how the Lightning Network works on Bitcoin.
Ethereum’s main scaling goal. Casper is the shift from Proof-of-Work to the more efficient Proof-of-Stake.
Partition the existing blockchain into smaller pieces known as shards.
Serenity (aka Ethereum 2.0)
The culmination of Casper and Sharding will create “Ethereum 2.0.”
Implementation of a ‘super quadratic sharding’ solution which could facilitate one billion transactions per day.
Before we look at the roadmap in more detail, let’s also give some context to where the project is today.
Ethereum 1.0 (July 30, 2015 to Present)
Classifying the various Ethereum versions can be tricky. This is because the project isn’t the same as it was during its mainnet launch in July 2015. Plus, there are two commonly-accepted classifications.
First, you’ll find that the Ethereum blockchain in early 2019 is still referred to as ‘Ethereum 1.0’. Ethereum 2.0 is referred to as Serenity. The official Ethereum Wiki page shows that Serenity is technically classified as Ethereum v4, and its release date is to be determined.
Some major development milestones of Ethereum 1.0 include:
Olympic (v0, released in May 2015)
Frontier (v1, released in July 2015)
Homestead (v2, released in March 2016)
Metropolis (v3 aka vByzantium released in October 2017).
Metropolis (v3.5 aka vConstantinople) will be released in January 2019.
Raiden’s Red Eyes Launched on Ethereum Mainnet (December 21, 2018)
Although this technically happened in 2018, it’s still an important and recent achievement on the roadmap to reaching greater scalability for Ethereum. In sum, the Red Eyes protocol allows for quicker transaction completion times through payment channel technology, which takes place off-chain.
Some innovative features of Red Eyes include single and multi-hop transfers, REST API with endpoints for all functionalities, rewritten and more gas-efficient smart contracts (e.g. only one contract per token network), recoverability in case of an irregular shutdown of the Raiden node, and the integration of the Matrix transport protocol for messaging.
Still, the current version of Red Eyes has a few known issues to be aware of. For example, third parties are currently unable to monitor channels on behalf of nodes or to pathfinding services. It also isn’t possible to do atomic swaps or upgrade smart contracts with Red Eyes.
The only way to upgrade the network is to close all channels and redeploy a new smart contract and reopen the channels. Additionally, Raiden’s blog post mentions numerous security notes. Some known issues include a compromised user system, a full disk, blockchain congestion, and chain reorganizations.
Once fully deployed, Raiden is designed to enable the Ethereum blockchain to process one million transactions per second and make transactions significantly cheaper to complete than before.
Three 1,000 ETH Grants (December 2018)
In December 2018, Vitalik Buterin sent 1,000 ETH grants to three different blockchain companies: Prysmatic Labs, Sigma Prime, and ChainSafe Systems. Even though this was positive news, it actually led to mixed reactions from members of the blockchain community.
For example, one VC investor stated that Ethereum is “missing ship dates [and] are lacking basic operational leadership.” A CEO of a crypto project said, “Ethereum has taken its lead for granted for too long (2 years). Needs increased focus and urgency on scalability to reclaim its narrative. Move fast or die slow.”
Whether or not you agree with these criticisms, it’s safe to say that most of Ethereum’s innovations are still listed on the future roadmap, and a lot of work is needed to sustain its position as a leader in blockchain and crypto. With that being said, here are some future events to look forward to.
Metropolis, vConstantinople (January 16, 2019)
Constantinople is the first major Ethereum update of 2019 and quite possibly the most important since the October 2017 update. Constantinople marks a hard fork of the Ethereum blockchain. After this update is released, members of the community will have to decide whether to run the old network or switch to the new one.
Lane Rettig, an independent developer, has called Constantinople a “maintenance and optimization upgrade.” While these changes aren’t all that big from an end user’s perspective, they do present new opportunities as well as challenges overall in several key areas. For example, upgrades implemented with Constantinople should make it easier for the Ethereum team and projects building on top of Ethereum to continue on tackling scalability issues in the future.
Constantinople will include the following five EIPs (Ethereum improvement proposals):
EIP 145 introduces a more efficient method of information processing known as Bitwise shifting. According to the EIP145 proposal notes, it costs around 35 gas to do a shift using arithmetic. However, this solution introduces an Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) native operation that only costs 3 gas. This results in a 91.4% savings in gas costs.
EIP 1052 provides a solution for optimizing large-scale code execution on Ethereum. More specifically, this functionality returns the keccak256 hash of a contract’s bytecode. It improves upon the design of the EXTCODECOPY opcode. As a result, large contracts that only require the hash will be cheaper to process.
EIP 1283 is based on EIP 1087. This proposal aims to help smart contract developers by reducing gas costs related to changes made to data storage.
EIP 1014is utilized in state-channel use cases that involve counterfactual interactions with contracts. It allows interactions to (actually or counterfactually in channels) be made with addresses that do not exist yet on-chain.
EIP 1234 is the somewhat controversial proposal that reduces the block mining reward issuance from 3 ETH down to 2 ETH. This will change Ethereum’s underlying economic policy.It also delays the introduction of the “difficulty bomb” for 12 additional months. The difficulty bomb is a piece of code which will eventually increase the difficulty level of puzzles in the mining algorithm used to reward miners with ETH.
Plasma and Plasma Cash (TBD)
Even though it’s up for debate, most consider Plasma to be an on-chain scaling solution. This is due to the fact that Plasma relies upon the inherent security of the Ethereum blockchain.
Plasma chains have the ability to be better than ordinary sidechains due to increased security and easier accessibility. For example, if a Plasma sidechain breaks, funds are still secure thanks to the main chain. Meanwhile, users can also withdraw funds from a Plasma sidechain to the main chain at any time with balances from the last valid block.
Plasma Cash is another solution that’s supposed to be even more efficient than Plasma. However, this is still in the research phase as of the beginning of 2019. The OMG team has been working with other researchers to simplify an atomic swap protocol which utilizes Vitalik Buterin’s atomic swaps and defragmentation work.
Loom Network is another blockchain project that has been working on developing similar Plasma solutions to improve the scalability of the Ethereum blockchain.
Casper is Ethereum’s pure Proof of Stake consensus algorithm. Why the change to Casper? Simply put, Proof of Stake blockchains are typically more scalable than Proof of Work blockchains. Additionally, there are growing concerns over the environmental impact of cryptocurrency mining operations.
As of the beginning of 2019, transactions on the Ethereum blockchain are still reliant upon Proof of Work. This means that cryptocurrency miners play a big role in verifying the accuracy of transactions. When Ethereum switches to Casper, transactions will be validated with staking.
In basic terms, sharding aims to securely partition the existing blockchain into smaller pieces known as shards. This solution, like most others on this list, is something that many non-Ethereum blockchain developers and researchers are also working on.
When it comes to implementing sharding on a mainnet, Ethereum won’t be the first. This title will likely go to Zilliqa upon the release of its mainnet on January 31, 2019. However, Ethereum’s sharding implementation isn’t too far down the road. According to various estimations from developers, we should expect the Ethereum blockchain to implement phase one of sharding sometime in 2020 and phase two sometime in 2021.
Serenity a.k.a. Ethereum 2.0 (2019/2020)
Earlier, we mentioned that Ethereum is still in version 1.0 as of the beginning of 2019. So when will Ethereum 2.0 be released? This is still difficult to say exactly. That’s because Ethereum 2.0 is generally considered to be a combination of Casper CBC (full PoS) and sharding. As stated above, Casper will likely be ready mid-2019.
Meanwhile, sharding for Ethereum won’t be initially implemented until 2020. In that sense, it’s easier to think of the move to Ethereum 2.0 as the culmination of two separate upgrades and not something that will have a single release date.
Ethereum 3.0 (2022 to 2025)
While Serenity (Ethereum 2.0) is still on the horizon, the core Ethereum team is already working towards Ethereum 3.0. This mostly involves research, rather than implementation. As to be expected, objectives that are further along in the roadmap have broader time frame ranges.
This is because delays or even circumstances that speed up the current projects or the future development of Ethereum 3.0 could take place.
Super quadratic sharding is a major part of Ethereum 3.0. As this site explains it, “So say, Ethereum currently has 16,000 nodes and all of them are currently processing the same transactions. You split that into 160 node groups of 1,000 nodes each. Ethereum’s current capacity is around one million transactions, so in this sharded chain its capacity would be one million x 160.”
Once everyone is confident in the capabilities of the sharded chain, it’s possible that, sometime between 2022 to 2025, Ethereum can split those 1,000 nodes each into 10 groups of 100 nodes each. This would make it possible to process one billion transactions per day with Ethereum.
Ethereum continues to make progress on its roadmap goals for 2019 and beyond. Much like any project, there will likely be a few speed bumps along the way. However, a large group of core developers and an ecosystem of independent developers and projects building infrastructure for Ethereum is what continues to accelerate innovation.
Happy holidays, folks. It’s been a long, tough year in the world of crypto, but if you’re reading this, I think you’ll be on the right side of history when the dust settles.
We’re riding out this crypto winter by putting together some of the best blockchain guides out there. The most important thing you can do right now is build knowledge, expand your understanding, and gain confidence in this new technology.
So, whether you’re bored over the holidays or hiding from the in-laws, let’s dive into some of our most popular guides so far. (If you like them, stick around because we’ll have plenty more in the new year).
This is our flagship beginner’s guide to bitcoin. It’s written in simple, easy-to-understand language, but you’ll feel like a pro by the end of it. We cover everything from bitcoin’s mysterious creator, the technology that powers it, and how to buy it.
A beginner’s guide to the third-largest cryptocurrency, Ethereum. Like our bitcoin guide, it’s written in simple language designed to level up your knowledge as you read through it. Discover how Ethereum is different to bitcoin and how it could disrupt an entire generation of existing services.
Launched in February 2011, the infamous Silk Road marketplace became a hub for drug dealers using bitcoin and the dark web to sell their wares. Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht is currently serving a double life sentence, plus 40 years, without parole. But the story is not so simple. It’s a story of corrupt police detectives, aliases, and deep conspiracy.
We reveal 24 clues about the elusive creator of bitcoin. Known only as the pseudonym “Satoshi Nakamoto,” Bitcoin’s founder has never been identified. He disappeared completely in 2011, but not without leaving a few possible hints at his identity.
In late 2017, a blockchain game called Cryptokitties became so popular it congested the entire Ethereum network. But it gave us an insight into how big blockchain gaming could become. Although most blockchain games are still quite primitive, there’s huge potential out there. Here are 13 of the best so far.
As the New York Times reported earlier this year, the blockchain industry has been dominated by “blockchain bros,” with women accounting for just four-to-six percent of blockchain investors. We shine a light on ten groundbreaking women taking the industry forward.
We track the cryptocurrency timeline back to the very earliest attempts at digital currency (ten years before bitcoin was created). Along the way, we point out the biggest moments in bitcoin history including the infamous Mt. Gox hack, the Silk Road dark-web marketplace, to the historic $20,000 price tag.
Storing your bitcoin in a safe and secure wallet is the most important decision you’ll make in your crypto journey. But how do you find one you trust? We dive into the 12 best wallets in 2018 and beyond.
A huge upgrade to Monero, the 10th largest cryptocurrency network, just made transactions 97% cheaper while maintaining its privacy features. Monero, which is best-known for its anonymous transfers, now uses technology called “Bullet Proofs” to scale up. Armin Davis explains further.
Another six months have gone by, and as such, Monero has performed its bi-yearly network upgrade hard fork. Specifically, the hard fork took place on the 18th of October, at block height 1685555.
Monero’s upgrade further discourages specialist mining tools like ASICs.
To maintain privacy, the ring size for all transactions on the Monero network has been fixed to 11.
Explaining Monero’s New “Bullet Proofs”
Prior to this upgrade, Monero used a version of what is called a “range proof”, or “zero-knowledge proof”.
A zero-knowledge proof means that something can be proven true without knowing the actual data. For example, I can prove that it is less than 0°c outside without knowing the actual temperature data. All that I need to do is place some water outside and see if it freezes.
For Monero, range proofs allow outside observers, like other Monero nodes, to confirm that a transaction took place using cryptocurrency that already existed. Rather than currency created out of thin air, or currency already spent elsewhere.
With large transactions comes large fees, as the fee you pay is (mostly) based on the size of your transaction in the block. And, while not an issue for Monero, larger transactions can cause network congestion on blockchains with small, fixed size blocks.
Enter Bullet Proofs: A great improvement on the previous range proofs, reducing transaction size by as much as 80% while maintaining the same level of privacy and ensuring that no foul play occurs.
As discussed above, the size of your transaction is what determines your fee (mostly). By reducing the transaction size, transaction fees are also greatly reduced (as much as 97%)
A Two-Stage Monero Upgrade
The upgrade to Bullet Proof based transactions will happen in two stages. Starting at height 1685555, the Monero network will be upgraded to v8. On v8, transactions using both the old range proof and the new Bullet Proof system will be accepted on the network.
Shortly after, at height 1686275, a second hard fork will occur that upgrades Monero to v9. This will cause the Monero network to reject any non-Bullet-Proof based transactions and implements a number of patches to Bullet Proofs.
Crucial Monero Audit Halts Threat of 51% Attack
On the 22nd of October, an embargo was lifted on some major bugs found during an audit of the code around Bullet Proofs.
Of the few bugs found, the most major involves a method to perform a 51% attack on the Monero network. Due to the magnitude of this bug, information around it was embargoed until a patch was live. As is standard practice for most major bugs.
A 51% attack involves gaining the lion’s share of mining power on a given blockchain. Once you have the most mining power, you can begin to rewrite history, and otherwise change the blockchain. This is because most blockchain nodes follow the longest chain. If you have the lion’s share of mining power, you control the longest chain.
There are various methods one can use to gain 51% mining power on a given network. In Monero’s case, a vulnerability was discovered that would allow malicious actors to crash other nodes remotely.
By crashing nodes other than yours, you can begin to chip away at the mining power that is not yours. Once you have removed enough rival mining power, you gain two things; most of the mining profits on the blockchain, and the ability to perform a 51% attack.
Monero Continues to Deter Mining Hardware (ASICs)
Monero developers purposely try to deter giant mining companies (like Bitmain) from monopolizing, and therefore centralizing, the network.
Earlier this year, specifically just before the previous hard fork, Monero’s network “difficulty” (a measure of how difficult it is to mine a block) began to rise uncharacteristically quickly.
It was discovered that the cause of this was that Bitmain had developed a working mining device (ASIC) for the CryptoNight algorithm – the backbone of Monero’s network.
At the time, a small change to the algorithm was made as a hotfix to make the ASICs unusable on Monero. Said change was referred to as CryptoNight v7.
Fast forward to this month, and the Beryllium Bullet network upgrade, Monero’s algorithm has once again been changed. Now called CryptoNight v8, it is intended to make producing an ASIC for Monero even more difficult.
How Does CryptoNight Prevent ASIC Miners?
CryptoNight v8 continues the work done by v7, in that it further increases the amount of memory bandwidth used by the algorithm. Specifically, the increase is by a factor of four.
Unfortunately along with this comes with a slight performance hit to regular CPUs of around 5-20%. The Monero developers and community feel that the performance drop is worth the gained protection from ASICs. And the performance may be gained back through optimizations of mining software.
This change works on the basis that it is prohibitively expensive to add large amounts of fast and high-speed memory to ASICs. A regular desktop CPU usually has somewhere between 4-64MB of cache, of which 2MB will be used per CryptoNight mining thread.
So for an ASIC looking to run a large number of threads, a large amount of high-speed, cache-like memory will be required. And further still, v8 now requires a 64-byte wide memory access. Which, for a desktop CPU is easy as it should already have the required hardware.
Keeping Monero Private With Fixed Ring Size
Beryllium Bullet changes two things about how Monero users can structure their transactions.
Fixed Ring Size: First off, Monero users can no longer select the ring size of their transactions. Ring size is the number of decoy transactions added to every Monero transaction in order to hide which transfer is the real one in the transaction.
This change, while controversial, is intended to help keep all users on the network private. Specifically, keeping transactions private while also keeping some transaction sizes down.
Ring Size Increased to 11: Secondly, the minimum (and now fixed) ring size has been set to 11. This is greater than the previous minimum of 5.
The rationale behind locking the ring size to 11 is that by making all transactions look exactly the same, it’s harder still to trace a given transaction across the network. You want to look the same as everyone else, rather than making a transaction with a massive ring size, which will stand out. While it is true that a larger ring size makes the transaction more private, it also makes the transaction as a whole a lot easier to spot.
Together, these upgrades combine to make Monero transactions 97% cheaper, while deterring mining centralization and maintaining its core privacy features. The upgrades make Monero truly bulletproof.
Blockchain engineers are now paid more than any other software engineer, equal only to artificial intelligence experts, as reported by CNBC.
According to statistics from Hired.com, blockchain engineer salaries are in the range of $150,000 – $175,000. That’s as much as some dentists in the USA.
It reflects an enormous 400% rise in demand for blockchain engineers over the last 12 months.
Blockchain Engineers Paid Higher Than Average
The figures are significantly higher than the average salary for a software engineer, which is $135,000 according to Hired.
Blockchain engineers are paid a premium because there simply aren’t enough experts to meet demand. In the past, blockchain development was a niche job role, advertised only by startups and ICOs.
Now, however, we are seeing the Silicon Valley giants lining up to hire blockchain experts. IBM, Microsoft, and Amazon are all currently advertising for blockchain experts. At the same time, Wall Street banks, like J.P. Morgan are building blockchain tools.
Blockchain is expanding beyond the bedrooms and garages of plucky startups to the biggest companies on the planet.
Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies Are Here to Stay
The enormous salaries and demand for blockchain engineers spell out one thing very clearly: this technology is not going away.
Despite the crash in cryptocurrency prices, there’s a sense that an industry is being built behind the scenes.
Blockchain may have disappeared from the headlines, but there’s movement under the surface. Passionate, excited, and brilliant minds are building the next generation of technology.
What Do You Need to Be a Blockchain Engineer?
You should also know the basic fundamentals of development, including HashMaps, Stack, Queues, and Tree.