In today’s meetup, Emin Gün Sirer said he is excited about bridging technology:
We plan to support bridges such that Avalanche assets can be wrapped and represented on the Ethereum chain and vice versa. Ethereum assets can be wrapped and represented on the Avalanche chains.
Sirer said he’s using a different set of technologies for the trustless bridge, although he’s not ready to release the idea and implementation details yet.
In addition to those bridges, the C-Chain on Avalanche has a modification so that it can deal with assets created on the Avalanche X-Chain. For example, if somebody has a real estate token, then that token can be sent as an input to a smart contract on the C-Chain.
Emin Gün Sirer explained in a meetup that AVA Labs is in the process of adding limits on how much delegation any single node can receive.
I would very much love it if people did not delegate. This delegation leads to centralization.
I don’t want some kind of AWS mega-node. I certainly don’t want a small number of nodes on a centralized infrastructure provider like AWS providing the backbone of the network. I would very much love it if people ran Avalanche out of their laptops at home.
Later in the meetup, Sirer explained that as people participate from home, the performance properties of the network will go down. This tradeoff is OK, because this is a game of building a decentralized network.
Avascan introduced a new explorer for the Avalanche network along with APIs for developers.
The explorer enables browsing of transactions, addresses, assets, blockchains, validators, and delegators.
Avascan also provides APIs for developers to build apps that retrieve information from the Avalanche platform. An API playground allows developers to run queries and test the APIs.
While the explorer lets you view basic information about all the blockchains built on Avalanche, Avascan currently only fully indexes the X-Chain.
The explorer also shows interesting statistics such as the circulating and locked AVAX supply, transactions per second on the X-Chain, staking reward per year, staking ratio, and burned fees. Avascan is working on a visualization for the supply unlocking schedule.
As the Avalanche mainnet is not expected to launch until the end of August, the explorer and APIs currently provide data for the testnet.
AVA Labs also provides their own separate explorer for the Avalanche network.
CryptoDiffer hosted an Avalanche “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) event on Telegram on Friday, August 7 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. EDT.
The AMA was held in conjunction with Sperax, a financial public blockchain. For brevity, only the questions and answers pertaining to Avalanche are included in this recap. Some questions were edited slightly for clarity.
We are glad to meet here Frida Cai (Sperax Global Strategic Partner) @FridaCai_Sperax Joe Yu (Sperax Senior Researcher) @yuzhou87 Stephen Buttolph (Avalanche Software Engineer) @StephenTechSupport Collin Cusce (Avalanche Senior Software Engineer) @hellmichigan Jay Karahashi-Sofue (Avalanche VP of Marketing) @jayksofue
Can you introduce yourself to the community?
Jay Karahashi-Sofue: Avalanche is a highly-scalable, open-source platform for launching decentralized applications. Developers who build on Avalanche can easily create powerful, reliable, and secure applications and custom blockchain networks with complex rulesets or build on existing private or public subnets. Ava Labs is the company building Avalanche.
Many blockchain projects often build on their own chain and attract users, so why should people choose Avalanche to be their platform?
Jay Karahashi-Sofue: Avalanche will provide developers/projects looking to build decentralized applications with better performance and scalability; in the early stages of Avalanche, we’re engaging with mature ecosystem partners (e.g., dev tooling, dapps, etc.) to make our ecosystem more appealing to new devs in the future. Our immediate focus is decentralized finance.
We’re also minimizing friction for devs who are already in the decentralized space with our C-Chain. Currently, the C-Chain runs the Ethereum Virtual Machine so any dev who is comfortable with Ethereum (or Solidity, more specifically) can come over to Avalanche to try out the platform with minimal barriers to entry.
Hell Michigan: We are fully decentralized with the potential to achieve millions of participants, just like Nakamoto, but at TPS not-yet-seen in open permissionless consensus networks. In Nakamoto there’s a long wait for confirmations with Bitcoin taking up to an hour to receive enough confirmations to feel confident your transaction has made it to the cannonical chain. With Avalanche it’s immediate, requiring no confirmations. In fact, transaction average a finalization time in under 1 second. We had 4500+ TPS and in our earlier, lighter-weight implementations, we reached nearly 8k TPS without any hokey tricks to boost those numbers. Avalanche consensus is fully-decentralized consensus which runs at twice the transaction processing speed that Visa does on an average day. In one day, we can do 2x the transaction Bitcoin does in a year.
And we’re backed with the scientific rigor to prove it. Heck the fastest Classical consensus protocol, Hotstuff, was what Facebook’s Libra was going to use… yea that was authored by Ted Yin, co-founder of Ava Labs.
You can create your own VMs, so you’re not bound to just the EVM or just Move or just Pact. You’re able to create entirely new VMs of your own design, tailored to your needs. The consensus is completely divorced from the state machine!
We’re in an entirely other category and operate at an entirely new level. We’re not simply 10x over the previous work, we’re 100x.
That’s why people will choose Avalanche.
How does Avalanche Consensus work and what are its advantages compared to Classical and Nakamoto Consensus?
However, the main idea is to utilize sampling to get statistical approximations of the preferences of the network. By performing repeated network polls, the nodes can adjust their preferences to be in line with the rest of the network.
This process is extremely powerful, because after just a handful of rounds, the network will have converged to a unanimous preference. Because Avalanche also has a way of tracking when this unanimous preference is established (through the same polling mechanism), Avalanche can be used to achieve consensus with an extremely small number of messages.
In some leader-ful protocols such as Tendermint or HyperLedger Fabric, there is single choke-point through which all transactions have to flow. But Avalanche doesn’t have this, so could you explain to me why Avalanche protocol is absolutely leaderless?
Stephen Buttolph: This raises an interesting point. In a non-sharded consensus system, all nodes will need to receive all transactions. However, the process that must be performed to finalize the transactions is a little more complex. Protocols like Tendermint and Hotstuff introduce a choke point for every block. So, the leader will need to receive a message from every other node in the network for every block.
In Avalanche, there are no special roles between nodes. Every node only performs a small sample of the network. It is possible to introduce block producers into Avalanche, and still maintain this property. But right now there are no special roles in the Avalanche network. That’s why Avalanche is leaderless.
Hell Michigan, in response to a Sperax answer: @FridaCai_Sperax “the current consensus that we are using is the most efficient among BFT-based consensus.” — you’re not using Avalanche so I disagree, but if you mean classical consensus, that’s HotStuff and the first author on that paper is our Co-founder Ted Yin.
While testing digital currencies in sandbox environments is extremely insufficient, what do you attribute the incredible increase of the DeFi market?
Jay Karahashi-Sofue: I think both approaches are reasonable. A sandbox environment can ensure steady success without getting in too much of a clash with regulators, while an open one without a sandbox can lead to incredible growth but also could lead to cases (in regards to DeFi) where retail gets burned due to lack of knowledge of the technology
Asynchronous network models
Hell Michigan, in response to a Sperax answer: Casper is partially asynchronous. Partially asynchronous is the most practical and the most analyzed model in academia. HotStuff? Tendermint? PBFT? All partially asynchronous.
You recently announced an integration with Chainlink. What benefits does this integration offer developers?
Jay Karahashi-Sofue: This integration allows for developers building on Avalanche to leverage the benefits of oracles; if you don’t know what oracles are, they enable real-time, outside data to interact with blockchain. Avalanche is continuously trying to grow its ecosystem to provide devs more tools and apps to use within their own projects.
Will Avalanche help Sperax in its exploration to DeFi?
Jay Karahashi-Sofue: We’re always open to collaborating with projects within the decentralized ecosystem and outside as well; in addition to building out our ecosystem with leading decentralized finance projects, we’re also engaging companies and institutions from the traditional finance and enterprise world.
Could you explain the efficiency of the Avalanche consensus protocol? Classical consensus requires every node to talk every other node. Nakamoto consensus requires running giant lotteries. How about Avalanche?
Many projects lie or do some really dumb tricks to report high TPS. What is your target for TPS that Avalanche expects?
Stephen Buttolph: On the Avalanche platform we’ve been focusing on implementing additional features lately. So I don’t really have a recent benchmark number to give you. Once things have stabilized we’ll focus back on TPS benchmarks. Our last benchmark on a large deployment (~1k nodes) was around 4500 TPS using single input two output transactions.
Avalanche is the 3rd generation of the main protocol. It will improve sideways by removing the missing aspects Classical and Nakamoto Consensus protocol, so do cryptocurrency ecosystem and Avalanche blockchain really change radically?
Hell Michigan: Ya I think it drastically will. Things like a decentralized Venmo were relegated to risky and often-broken Layer 2 solutions. No longer the case thanks to Avalanche and this can occur on Layer 1. There’s also the ad hoc creation of assets that Avalanche offers on a base transaction level which should be a huge improvement over ERC 20s. In addition, you can deal with these assets in any way you please. Thanks to custom VMs, you’re no longer stuck to one [way] of doing things like with Ethereum. You can use any VMs you want, and they all can pull from the same validator set that is used in the default network. The ability to float assets between chains and subnets is also going to change the way the world treats crypto.
Where can i buy Avalanche?
Jay Karahashi-Sofue: Avalanche is not available yet; once mainnet is launched (some time this month TBD), we will look to have AVAX available on exchanges. Until then, please follow our social channels for those updates.
Emin Gün Sirer, co-founder and CEO of AVA Labs, participated in a livestream with Haipo Yang on August 5, 2020. Haipo Yang is the founder and CEO of the cryptocurrency exchange CoinEx and the mining pool ViaBTC.
Cindy Wang, co-founder of Satoshi’s Angels, moderated the event and served as translator between Emin, Haipo, and the audience.
In July, CoinEx announced plans to support AVAX trading after the Avalanche mainnet launches.
The following recap provides an overview of the livestream discussion (not direct quotes):
Cindy: Thank you for the joining the Bihu livestream.
Emin: Thank you for having me.
Cindy: Hello Professor Emin, would you like to introduce yourself to the audience?
Emin: Professor at Cornell for 20 years. Area of expertise is distributed systems. In 2002, invented a system called Karma. First cryptocurrency where minting was done with proof-of-work. Far before Bitcoin, but too ahead of its time.
Discovered selfish mining in Bitcoin [a technique where a group of miners can obtain revenues in excess of their fair share].
Worked on making sure funds that were stolen could be recovered with Bitcoin Vaults and Bitcoin Covenants.
Worked on Ethereum – noticed The DAO was about to be hacked.
Most recently focusing on Avalanche.
Haipo (via Cindy): It is said Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is too decentralized to add any technical features and doesn’t have a very good governance mechanism. What is your attitude about a fork and do you think it is a good time to fork Bitcoin Cash.
Emin: Big fan of Bitcoin Cash (BCH). It follows in footsteps of Satoshi’s white paper. BTC doing something different, trying second layer scaling, not grounded in Satoshi’s white paper.
Want Bitcoin Cash to succeed. No issue too small for Bitcoin Cash to fracture around. Always something that causes it to fracture. There were a number of proposals that did not receive unanimous support. Issues are more social than technical. Would love to see a governance layer, but the rifts are social not technical. We need leadership to emerge, so decisions can be made. Instead we have deep rifts, deep divides.
Cindy: How did Avalanche get its name?
Emin: From the mechanism of action of the protocol, which creates an unstable equilibrium like being balanced on top of a mountain. Slowly a decision begins to form. Decision starts falling towards one side of the mountain or the other: Alice paid Bob, or Alice paid Charlie. Nodes on one side of the decision gain momentum, growing bigger and bigger. Like an avalanche it becomes unstoppable (finality point).
I’m told its not the best connotation in Chinese, but in English, an avalanche is a powerful event, an awe-inspiring event. Not so much destructive, as awe-inspiring.
Cindy: I know that you are a big blocker and are supportive of Bitcoin Cash. Have you considered implementing Avalanche on Bitcoin Cash? Why create another chain?
Emin: Of course I did, but proof-of-work and Nakamoto Consensus have shortcomings. Nakamoto Consensus is wonderful, and a landmark in distributed systems. An amazing invention. But it has slow finality, lack of scalability, and leaks value from store of value to miners.
Avalanche is the third big breakthrough in distributed systems. Biggest thing to happen since the Nakamoto white paper.
Avalanche is highly scalable, highly flexible. Had to build a new network to show how fast and flexible networks could be.
I’d like to build Bitcoin Cash on Avalanche to show how fast it could be, with quick finality, and make zero-conf transactions much more secure.
Cindy: There are some advantages of proof-of-stake such as low threshold of mining and better transactions per second. We know Ethereum is switching to proof-of-stake [Ethereum 2.0]. Do you think Ethereum will continue to lead the bull market?
Emin: Absolutely, but Ethereum 2.0 is not appearing any time soon. Activity is centered around the Beacon Chain, essentially a meaningless chain that creates randomness, not processing transactions. Ethereum 2.0 constantly delayed, appearing in 2021, nobody suggesting it will be here this year.
When it comes to market, not sure Ethereum 2.0 will deal with core problems. It’s based on sharding, a split into parallel groups. Suspect everybody wants to be on the same shard as MakerDAO. Grave doubts about Ethereum 2.0 roadmap. Do not think sharding is the way to go. Not sure it will improve transactions per second immensely.
We’re looking at how Avalanche can support the Ethereum virtual machine. Avalanche is capable of thousands of transactions per second, finalizing transactions in a second.
Sharding is on order of five or six seconds. Avalanche is superior to Ethereum 2.0. Will it succeed? Don’t know, wish it the best, want it to succeed.
The fastest, best platform is going to be Avalanche, which supports the Ethereum Virtual Machine: byte by byte compatible with the Ethereum VM.
Cindy: I’m giving Bitcoin Cash away to our audience, please countdown to our audience.
Emin: [Counting down for giveaway] Three, two, one, go!
Cindy: You mentioned Avalanche is a real breakthrough. What makes it a real breakthrough? Specific aspects?
Emin: The way it approaches consensus is different than every other protocol. 6,500 transactions per second. Three times faster than Visa. Finality in about a second. Transaction submitted, then it’s as good as six Bitcoin Cash confirmations in about a second.
Avalanche is inclusive. Allows people to participate. Difficult to participate in Bitcoin Cash because you need a mining rig and electricity. With Avalanche, can participate with smaller node requirements.
Avalanche has a different network model. There are different virtual machines. Different subnetworks.
New coins compliant in each jurisdiction. There will be coins for the American market, and coins for the European market subject to European laws. First true multi-jurisdiction network.
Flexibility and speed allow Avalanche to do something nobody else is trying to do. Not trying to compete with the dollar or yuan. Not trying to compete with Ethereum as a world computer.
Avalanche is an asset issuance platform. None of the other systems are good for issuing assets. Assets have been issued on Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash, but that’s all incidental. Avalanche is built from the ground up to issue financial instruments.
Cindy: Haipo agreed the market for tokenization is very big. Question for both of you is how you rank the importance of community, development, and governance for public chains.
Emin: All important, like legs of a table. Table cannot stand without good foundation on all fronts.
Community is absolutely essential for blockchains.
Governance is important. Formal mechanisms for figuring out what community wants and every voice has a chance to be heard. Without governance even good communities can be ruled by loudest voice, mob rule.
Development absolutely crucial but has to happen from multiple fronts. Avalanche has community distributed around the world. Good community of small developers, and also have large companies building on Avalanche.
When a platform has small communities and big companies, it’s in a strong position, and that’s what we’ve been trying to do on Avalanche.
Cindy: Professor Emin, Haipo said he believes technology is not the most important factor. So many say they have great tech but offer a bad user experience. How should infrastructure be built to improve user experience?
Emin: Haipo has great insight. In this space, not that many differentiated user experiences. Haipo is right, user experience comes first and foremost, not tech, not transactions per second.
Until now, a large number of projects were repackaging the same technology. Satoshi’s invention and different flavors on top, but in the end very similar. Copied each other, not that many innovations in blockchains themselves.
Avalanche represents a completely different technological foundation. When you make a chain so fast, it’s a completely different user experience. Click and finalized. Cannot do this on Ethereum or Ethereum 2.o. In Avalanche, it’s almost instant. Completely changes the user experience.
Avalanche has a different network model. Many tokens on top. Asset issuance platform. Will be thousands of assets issued on top. Already multiple virtual machines. There will be different subnetworks.
These systems have to be so easy to use that people interact with them woutout realizing they’re talking to a blockchain. Haipo is right, user experience is what matters. Good tech is what gives you a better user experience.
Cindy: I will tell Haipo how you think highly of him 🙂
Cindy: Paper of Avalanche was first uploaded to IPFS, which is one of the most popular coins this year. What is your attitude toward IPFS?
Emin: Fantastic project. We need decentralized storage solutions to support blockchain projects. Fantastic coupling for any other blockchain project to use IPFS for storing information.
Cindy: What do you think of DeFi? Do you think DeFi will take us to another round of a bull market?
Emin: It will absolutely will, not just in crypto but also in finance. Everything starting in crypto will be innovation you see in Wall Street. Wall Street stagnated. Little innovation in the banking and finance side other than esoteric derivative instruments. Crypto brings a breath of fresh air into the space. Believe it’s going to be transformative. Avalanche supports DeFi needs: compliance, expressivity.
It will not be the case that Wall Street just adopts DeFi. DeFi will grow and grow and grow and become its own thing that is just on the side of the finance world. And as older people grow out of finance, DeFi will replace them.
Cindy: How is Avalanche going to combine with DeFi?
Emin: Avalanche already supports the Ethereal Virtual Machine (EVM). Everything that works on the EVM works on the Contract Chain on Avalanche. We’re talking to Compound, Uniswap, MakerDAO. Spoken to them about migrating functionality to Avalanche.
Talking to large enterprises that want to issue new assets tied to real world goods. Avalanche takes DeFi to the next level.
Finally, working on decentralized exchanges (DEXs). Because of flexibility, Avalanche supports highly performant DEXs. Existing DEXs are slow and behind the market. On Avalanche, can build a real-time DEX. Completely changes approach. After mainnet, plan to build new solutions and show the world how fast DEXs can be. How much better DeFi solutions can be on top of Avalanche.
Cindy: Thank you Professor Emin Gün Sirer, thats all for tonight. Thank you for sharing insights for the audience.
Emin: Thank you so much for having me, for insightful questions, and to the audience.