Researchers Tackle Tomorrow’s Blockchain Problems With Bitcoin-NG

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The question of how to best increase the transaction processing capacity of the blockchain may be bitcoin’s current crisis, but that isn’t stopping researchers from working to solve more forward-looking issues.

Held last weekend in Montreal, the inaugural Scaling Bitcoin marked the first major conference for developers, and as such, it featured a broad sampling of technical experts working on solutions to problems that may come to light as knowledge of blockchain technology advances.

One of the more novel proposals to debut at the event was developed by Cornell post-doc student Ittay Eyal, PhD student Adem Efe Gencer, computer science professor Emin Gün Sirer and research scientist Robbert Van Renesse. Called Bitcoin-NG (the “NG” is short for “next generation”), the proposal is envisioned as a solution to “inherent problems” in blockchain design, both in bitcoin and alternative distributed ledgers such as Ethereum.

Eyal said that behind Bitcoin-NG is the belief that there are more fundamental issues with the design of blockchains that will make scaling any implementation, public or private, a challenge.

Eyal told CoinDesk:

“For securities markets, for transacting digital assets, if you want to have all of these on a blockchain, you will need significant scaling.”

One of the most pressing problems, the team behind Bitcoin-NG argues, is that as the size of data blocks on a blockchain increases, so does the risk that the blockchain forks, resulting in competing versions of the public record of past transactions and inefficiencies in network communication.

Block propagation

Bitcoin-NG, according to Eyal, was an exercise in identifying issues that arise when individual transactions and blocks of transactions are verified and propagated over a blockchain network, as well as the benefits that should be maintained in any redesign.

Ultimately, the researchers behind Bitcoin-NG came to the conclusion that blocks on a blockchain have

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