Mark Friedenbach of Blockstream Claims “Bitcoin Block Size Increase Can be Achieved Without Hard Fork”
With mixed emotions in the air, many were eagerly awaiting Mark Friedenbach's talk at Scaling Bitcoin 2018, a much-awaited conference that is currently underway. It was here that Friedenbach proposed the idea of “Forward Blocks”, a novel protocol that can help increase the block size of Bitcoin in a novel manner.
To further elaborate on this point, we can see that Friedenbach's research addresses a core problem that many developers have been struggling with for a long time, i.e. “ What is the best way in which to make big changes within a massive distributed system?”. Another issue that Bitcoin faces presently is that in order to make any major changes to its network, a hard fork needs to be implemented.
Talking about his recent work, Friedenbach noted:
“Most of the scaling debate is wrapped up in the issue of how to do a hard fork safely, and when, if ever, we should do a hard fork for scaling purposes. Forward blocks makes that whole argument pointless. We don't need a hard-fork to scale bitcoin, if and when we decide to do so. It can be accomplished as a soft fork, like SegWit was.”
While not extremely well known within the crypto-sphere, Friedenbach has been working as a blockchain developer ever since he left his job at NASA, where he was helping the space agency develop some novel space research apps. After joining the crypto sector full time, he started to work on various facets of smart contract deployment (so as to make them more efficient). In another side note, Friedenbach was also the original co-author of Blockstream’s original paper on “sidechains”.
Through his latest research offering, Friedenbach describes in detail the change ‘Forward Blocks’ looks to usher in— primarily through the use of a variety of different forks.
As per the paper:
“While each of these approaches individually have unacceptable trade-offs, it turns out, remarkably, that combining them all together ‘cancels out' most of the bad tradeoffs while retaining the combined benefits. The resulting scheme, held together by a novel new mechanism we call forward blocks, is actually less complicated than one might think of a ‘everything and the kitchen sink' proposal,”
While this latest upgrade possesses a lot of potential on paper, many people such as Blockstream CEO, Adam Back, claimed that the idea behind Forward Blocks is “quite plain but interesting nonetheless”.
However, there were also people like Karl-Johan Alm, a Bitcoin Core contributor, who described this latest proposal as a “massive technological breakthrough”.