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Bitfury Lightning Network Algorithm ‘Flare’ Addresses Bitcoin Scaling Challenge

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ACINQ, a French startup that develops bitcoin products, successfully tested the Bitfury Group’s payment routing solution called Flare on the Lightning Network, according to an ACINQ press release. The test bodes well for addressing the bitcoin scaling challenge.

Bitfury Group’s white paper in July 2016 described the specifications for an algorithm to spur additional academic progress. ACINQ used these specs to code a payment routing algorithm and tested it with 2,500 AWS nodes. ACINQ found the Flare algorithm could locate a payment route in around 0.5 seconds with an 80% probability.

Bitfury Group: Test Proves Commitment

Valery Vavilov, Bitfury Group CEO, said the success demonstrates his group’s commitment to research and to supporting the Lightning Network deployment. The team’s engineers and fellow blockchain organizations are dedicated to Lightning’s success.

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Flare’s test, with small modifications from ACINQ, demonstrates the solution is successful beyond being theoretically possible. The Bitfury Group is now a step closer to delivering the Lightning Network into reality and solving the bitcoin blockchain challenge.

Pierre-Marie Padiou, ACINQ CEO, said Flare marks the most advanced routing proposal, a major remaining Lightning Network challenge. ACINQ used the algorithm in its own Lightning Network deployment, Éclair, since ACINQ wanted to extend beyond simulations to see how well it would perform in an actual deployment.

ACINQ is pleased with the results, Padiou said, which it sees as a first step to develop a scalable Lightning Network routing framework.

Investigation Moves To Next Level

ACINQ, with the large scale Flare network test, has moved the investigation of the algorithm to the next level, supporting its previous simulations, according to Medium. The tests show the scheme works in practice and supports its theoretical investigation, said Laolu Osuntokun, Lightning Network engineer who co-authored the Flare paper.

The Lightning Network promises to enable large scalability of the bitcoin blockchain network’s transaction processing strength, as transactions per second capacity could potentially exceed legacy payment rails such as PayPal or Visa. A Lightning Network defining feature is the ability to route payments among network users without having to trust intermediaries.

Parties will not have to create a direct payment channel to complete a payment in most cases. Any solution for finding payment channels, an important Lightning Network issue, should route the payment from the sender to the recipient and be optimal based on criteria such as routing expenses and/or time to complete payment.

Succeeding at scale will likely require Lightning Network to have a fully automated payment routing solution.

Also read: Bitfury proposes a solution to the bitcoin routing problem in the Lightning Network

Improved Route Location

The algorithm’s design goal is to make sure the routes can be located as fast as possible for the Lighting Network while reducing the amount of data stored on devices and sustaining decentralization. This is accomplished at the cost of every node proactively collecting information on the topology of the Lightning Network, in addition to reactively gathering information on the topology as required for transaction requests. The information gathered includes channels within a low-hop distance and paths to randomly chosen nodes further away.

Information on the bitcoin blockchain and provided by channel parties verify the existence of payment channels. Hence, a node has a well-illuminated map of its local neighborhood inside the network, with random patches of visibility farther away allowed by the selection of beacon nodes.

The combination of beacon and local nodes enables a node to reduce routing state while locating routes to a given node with high probability.

The Bitfury Group develops and delivers both the hardware and software solutions needed for organizations and individuals to securely move assets across the blockchain.

Images from iStock and BitFury.

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