A research team from Northwestern University, in Illinois, U.S.A., believes they have unraveled one of Bitcoin’s long-standing nemesis: The problem of scalability. As reported by MarketWatch on August 15, 2018, the scholars put out details of their innovative solution.
Scalability under Scrutiny
While the problems of slow transactions are not localized to Bitcoin, the research team has published findings only for the pioneer cryptocurrency, for now. The group comprises students and faculty members and operates in conjunction with bloXroute Lab, a firm focusing on improving the transactional routes of several cryptocurrencies.
With regards to Bitcoin’s core ethos, a significant factor in the study was to find a solution while preserving decentralization and mitigating any process which improved scalability at the cost of centralization. However, Sarit Markovich, professor of strategy at the Kellogg School of Management, opined the contrary:
“When you look at two networks like bitcoin and a central bank, one is centralized and one is not. If we want it [bitcoin] to scale we have to compromise, which means we need to get to some level of centralization.”
For the uninitiated, network scalability defines a blockchain protocol’s speed of validating transactions, confirming datasets, and maintaining efficiency. This feature is one of blockchain’s primary draws over other technological frameworks and is slated as a vital component of enabling Bitcoin’s success over the broader global ecosystem.
“Compressed Block” Method
The Northwestern University research addresses the scalability issue by creating a “compressed” block infrastructure that facilitates the sending of smaller storage on the network, while not compromising on the total data sent.
In its white paper, BloXroute refers to the current transactional process as a “scalability bottleneck,” citing large participant load on the protocol as peer-to-peer transactions are conducted and relayed through the entirety of the Bitcoin network.
BloXroute’s infrastructure solution aims to improve node-synchronization with two mechanisms: Processing systemwide caching which enables faster propagation of transactions and using a “cut-route” system that facilitates a fast transmission of blocks through the network. Markovich added:
“We know theoretically there is a way to improve scalability, by creating some level of centralization, but it would still look like a decentralized network. We are definitely getting good results.”
The research pointed out VISA and Mastercard’s prowess in the financial transaction business. Compared to the thousands of transactions the two behemoths process per second, the Bitcoin network manages just five to seven transactions per second despite being around for ten years.
To conclude, BloXroute added that anonymity, mass-governance, and decentralization lose their charm if the application fails to scale, with the latter forming an integral vision for the company to address the pioneer cryptocurrency’s long-standing issue.