Bitcoin Foundation chief scientist and core developer Gavin Andresen believes engineers are losing sight of bitcoin’s bigger picture, according to a recently-posted blog. Hence, he has proposed what he calls a “big picture” definition of bitcoin.
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Andresen’s pronouncement is bound to gain attention, given the central role he has played in bitcoin’s development. He became the “core maintainer”—chief developer—of the open source code that defines the rules of bitcoin and provides the software needed to make use of it, according to the MIT Technology Review.
The CIA and Washington regulators have looked to him to explain the currency. And it was Andresen who conceived of the nonprofit Bitcoin Foundation in 2012, which is the closest thing to a central authority in the world of bitcoin.
Where Engineers Err
Engineers spend a lot of time to make precomputing eigenwidgets faster, Andresen noted in his recent blog. They will take a few days to make snark agitation faster rather than addressing the next performance bottleneck. Instead, they focus on a performance of a routine, decentralization, compatibility or security and ignore everything else.
Andresen proposed the following “big picture” definition of bitcoin:
“Bitcoin is the ledger of not-previously-spent, validly signed transactions contained in the chain of blocks that begins with the genesis block (hash 000000000019d6689c085ae165831e934ff763ae46a2a6c172b3f1b60a8ce26f), follows the 21-million coin creation schedule, and has the most cumulative double-SHA256-proof-of-work.”
By agreeing on what is meant by the word “bitcoin,” Andresen believes the needless argument about “the trees” can be avoided.
Bitcoin continues to be accepted by majority hash rate. It is still a different arrangement of the merkle tree in the block header. It can still fix the “off-by-one” error in the difficulty retarget code.
Bitcoin is not a minority hash rate branch of the chain. It does not change the proof-of-work. Having the majority hash rate decide 1% inflation is not a good idea for bitcoin.
Andresen ends his blog asking if there is a better technical definition for what should and should not be considered “bitcoin.”
Andresen’s Ongoing Legacy
Andresen is one of the earliest known people to communicate with bitcoin’s eponymous founder Satoshi Nakamoto.
When Australian Craig Wright claimed to be Nakamoto last year, Andresen was quick to say he believed, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Wright was Nakamoto. Andresen received a lot of backlash from bitcoiners who thought he was “bamboozled.”
Andresen has also weighed in on the bitcoin block size debate in favor of increasing the block size. He has noted the possibility that the bitcoin community could see exchanges, miners and merchants move to a highly centralized clearing agreement model. He believes that this will indicate an unhealthy bitcoin network that will be slower, less reliable and more vulnerable to attacks.
Andresen raised eyebrows last fall when he tweeted that Ethereum has more nodes now than bitcoin and that it will grow its lead as its block size exceeds bitcoin’s.
Featured image from Flickr.