Welcome to PlatON — the Baleyworld
On 24th April 1982, IBM introduced to us the first personal computer, it marks the beginning of the information age. Ever since then, smart devices infiltrated our daily life, data were generated at increasingly fast speed.
On 6th August 1991, Tim Berners Lee invented the “World Wide Web”, and brought us into the world of internet. Devices were then connected and able to communicate with each other. The rate at which data were being transferred grows exponentially.
On 3rd January 2009, Satoshi Nakamoto created the first “block” of the Bitcoin blockchain. The birth of blockchain transformed the way that data were generated, stored, and transferred.
Nowadays, we have hundreds and thousands of smart devices around the world with idle computing power. We also lack efficient security measures to protect data ownership and privacy. The world is awaiting a computing architecture that protects the ownership of data while maneuvering data to flow, an infrastructure that can utilize all idle computing power in a decentralized yet completely trustworthy environment.
“The Scalability Trilemma” raises three core issues of blockchain: scalability, decentralization, and security. In addition, with the occurrence of data leak scandals of companies such as Google, Facebook, and Marriott, and the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) taking effect, privacy issues are increasingly becoming a fourth important issue of blockchains. In fact, when people now talk about large-scale applications of the blockchain the problems of scalability and privacy are at the heart of the discussion.
Scalability has been recognized as the biggest problem of blockchain. The current mainstream blockchain processes 3–20 transactions per second, which in terms of processing power is orders of magnitude lower than what is required to run a mainstream financial market. Although the industry is actively implementing various solutions, these are limited by the “The Scalability Trilemma”, i.e. premised on the sacrifice of decentralization or security. Blockchain consensus-based strategy also limits smart contracts from supporting complex computational logic.
Privacy is another major issue of the blockchain. Although its properties of tamper resistance, decentralization and trustlessness are appealing, the blockchain is also facing the same predicament as Big Data and AI technology, that is to say not getting data. No company or individual is willing to publish private information to the public ledger, which records can be read freely by the government, family members, colleagues and commercial competitors without restrictions.
Verifiable computation. Given the existing limitations of chain consensus, the function of the chain should be “verification” rather than “computation”. More and more people are actively working on implementing solutions that improve the scalability of the blockchain through off-chain strategy. Although the chain has been recognized as a trustless environment, the implementation of off-chain solutions introduces new factors of distrust. PlatON’s verifiable computing (VC) cryptography algorithm takes the trust offline. Through verifiable computation, contracts only need to be computed once off the chain. All nodes can then quickly verify the correctness of the computation, which improves transaction processing performance, and enables PlatON to support trustless computation of complex contracts.
Privacy-preserving computation. PlatON implements complete privacy-preserving computation by superimposing homomorphic encryption (HE) and secure multiparty computation (MPC) to ensure the privacy of the input data and the computational logic itself. Trustless computing on PlatON relies only on falsifiable cryptographic assumptions, compared to trusted integrity computation that relies on trusted hardware or TEE (such as SGX) provided by third-party manufacturers, thus providing unprecedented private data security with no trust boundaries during its life cycle.
Baleyworld is the first planet foundation settled by Earth inhabitants, in the science fiction “the Foundation series” written by American author Isaac Asimov. We have named our minimal viable product test network “Baleyworld” as a tribute to the novel, and to the dream of humanity to one day explore the mysterious world outside of our own habitat. In order to establish the “foundation” in the new blockchain age, PlatON also needs to preserve and expand on the collective knowledge of humanity. PlatON thrives to be the next generation of decentralized computing architecture, we are an open source network that welcomes all to get involved.
After two years of preparation, the minimal viable product of PlatON test network is ready as of today. We will be gradually releasing the source code according to the following schedule:
- 18th Dec 2018 Baleyworld v0.1.0: Implement a complete RELOAD overlay network and service discovery protocol based on the RELOAD overlay network. Implement Concurrent Byzantine Fault Tolerance algorithm. Provide WASM virtual machine with minimum features.
- 28th Dec 2018 Baleyworld v0.2.0: The performance of the CBFT will be optimized. Smart contract adheres to the WASM specification rather than solidity. A new type of smart contract called private contract will be introduced to the PlatON network, the private contracts extend the off-chain private computing, a VM for executing private contracts and toolchain for compiling will provided as well.
- 18th January 2019 Baleyworld v0.3.0: The basic PPoS(Probabilistic Proof of Stake) algorithm will be implemented, in which a Platform participant can become a block producer through staking. The basic incentive scheme for verifying transactions and creating new blocks will be implemented through a reserve pool. The performance of the WASM virtual machine will be optimized.
- 28th January 2019 Baleyworld v0.4.0: In this release, we continue to evolve the PPoS algorithm, in which those who hold the Energons are able to cast votes to elect block producers. The WASM virtual machine will support more development libraries. A new type of smart contract called a verifiable contract will be introduced to the PlatON network, which extends the off-chain trustless computing, the corresponding toolchain will be released as well.
PlatON decouples transaction execution from blockchain consensus and builds a scalable trustless computing network off the chain. Therefore, the nodes in PlatON mainly are of the following categories:
Light Nodes do not save the data of all blocks, only block header information and the data related to itself, and relies on Full Nodes for fast transaction verification. Light nodes participate in transactions and broadcasts of block data across the entire network.
Full Nodes save the data of all blocks, and can directly verify the validity of transaction data locally. Full nodes participate in transactions and broadcasts of block data across the entire network.
Block Producers are responsible for executing transactions and package transaction data into blocks. In the Giskard consensus protocol, block producers are randomly generated based on VRF and probability distribution, and consensus is reached through the asynchronous BFT protocol.
Computing Nodes are introduced into the blockchain ecosystem by PlatON. Computational nodes are the foundation of the trustless computing network. They mainly provide computing power, executing complex contracts off the chain and using VC algorithms to generate computation proofs for fast verification on the chain.
Data Nodes are another important component of a trustless computing network. Based on homomorphic encryption (HE) and secure multiparty computation (MPC), data nodes can input local data into the computing network while guaranteeing privacy.
In blockchain, decentralization of block production can be quantified as the number of block producers. Scalability can be quantified as the number of transactions per unit of time that the system can process. Safety can be quantified as the cost of mounting a Byzantine attack that affects liveness or transaction ordering. Considering the trade-offs between these quantitative indicators, PlatON’s Giskard consensus finally decided on combining the PoS and BFT mechanisms.
PPoS (PoS based on probability distribution), in fact, all PoS systems have trade-offs between the number of consensus nodes and performance. DPoS is biased towards fewer consensus nodes in exchange for higher performance. Algorand uses a random method to select consensus nodes across the network, but can only run on strongly synchronous networks. These are two typical extreme methods. PlatON adopts a compromise approach. Any Energon holder can participate in the consensus node through staking. Other Energon holders continue to vote through staking to maintain a small list of dynamic consensus node candidates, and randomly select candidates from the list using VRF and probability distribution. This method narrows the selection of consensus nodes and effectively avoids the problem of over-centralization.
From a technical point of view, the PlatON computing network is essentially a decentralized FaaS platform. Correspondingly, smart contracts can be thought of as FaaS functions. The smart contracts in PlatON fall into three categories. contracts
Basic Contracts support high-level language development and compiles to executable Wasm. Transactions that trigger basic contracts are packaged by the consensus nodes, and the nodes in the entire network repeat the verification. The statuses of the basic contracts are saved to the public ledger.
Verifiable Contracts are developed and published in the same way as basic contracts; they also compile to executable Wasm. The state transitions of verifiable contracts are asynchronously executed by computation nodes off the chain. After a computation is completed, the new state and the state transition proof are submitted to the chain, and the entire network of nodes can quickly verify the correctness and update the new state to the public ledger. Verifiable contracts support complex, heavy computing logic without affecting the performance of the entire chain.
Privacy-preserving Contracts also support high-level language development and compile to executable Intermediate Language (LLVM IR). The input data to private contracts is stored locally on data nodes. The data nodes perform private computation off the chain using secure multiparty computation, and submit the computation result to the chain.
We are aiming to build a global open source community, with a decentralized governance structure and mechanism. We expect to have many different participants involved in our network, including and not limited to those contribute computing power, databases, and algorithms, and those initiate tasks and build applications. As the initiator of the PlatON network, we will be optimizing our governance structure and mechanism according to feedback we collect from the community, aiming to make PlatON a fair market place to all participants. We encourage more and more individuals, institutions and interest groups to join our network. The faster it expands and the more “complex” it gets, the more all participants can benefit from it.
Its has been ten full years since the birth of blockchain. In the past ten years, blockchain has evolved from a mysterious technology for liberalistic geeks , to an underlying infrastructure celebrated by Wall Street. In the next ten years, blockchain will be applied to various industries to solve existing inefficiency problems. Applications similar to Whatsapp and Paypal, that are easy to use will be available to end users.
PlatON, the next generation of computing architecture, based on privacy-preserving computation and trustless computing, is dedicated to making decentralized computation trustworthy, and data transactions safe and efficient.
We welcome you to join us on the journey, to build the “Baleyworld” in the new blockchain age.