New Xthinner Block Propagation Protocol By A BCH Developer Looks To Scale By Data Compression


One Problem At A time: BCH Developer Offers A Solution To The Scaling Issue.

There are many charges levied against blockchain when being discussed as a viable alternative to the existing financial setup. A major stumbling block is a complexity around its encryption system which makes it cumbersome and makes scaling harder. Now one of the developers working for Bitcoin Cash [BCH], Jonathan Toomim, has announced on the 13th of January that he has been steadily working on a project to remedy this.

His project, named Xthinner, is a block propagation protocol that utilizes lexicographic transaction ordering [LTOR]. This is a mathematical structure based on the alphabetical order of the component data. Toomim suggests that his protocol is able to compress blocks by a staggering 99.6 percent. This makes it about five times more efficient than the other scaling concepts such as Compact Blocks.

The Xthinner Scaling Protocol

The BCH developer, who is also a miner, first announced his concept in early September, when he was discussing the advantages of the Bitcoin Cash network’s LTOR. Expanding further on that, in a recent post on the publishing platform Medium, he went into great details about how Xthinner, which builds on the encoding of Xthin, uses entropy reduction. Earlier this week, Toomim unveiled his work on Reddit, to the larger BCH community.

Explaining what Xthinner is he told the Reddit community that it was

“a new block propagation protocol which I have been working on that takes advantage of LTOR to give about 99.6% compression for blocks, as long as all of the transactions in the block were previously transmitted.”

While the last bit might get some down, Toomim was upbeat. Highlighting the advantage of his new protocol, he says it is “about 1.6 bytes per transaction — Xthinner is designed to be fault-tolerant, and to handle situations in which the sender and receiver’s mempools are not well synchronized with gracefully degrading performance.”

In his technical analysis, the coder details how his new creative works. He goes on to show how if a block of 500 MB was made of 400-byte transactions, it could be encoded into 1.9MB of data which equates to 99.618 percent decrease. Although neither the Bitcoin Core (BTC) and Bitcoin Satoshi’s Vision (BSV) networks can use the protocol, it is not impossible. Toomim feels if both protocols were suitably upgraded they too can use Xthinner. Explaining the issue for BSV he said it would be hard as BSV network had no lexicographic transaction ordering capabilities. For the other coin, he says,

“BTC also lacks CTOR/LTOR, which means [it] won’t work as well and would require substantial modifications to work at all.”

He is hopeful that devs at ABC and BU will seriously consider implementing his Xthinner protocol.

One Scaling Protocol Many Uses

Toomin hopes to utilize the knowledge and experience gained from this to be useful in this next endeavour, Blocktorrent. This he envisions to be a technique that breaks down data into smaller fractions that are then verified independent of each other and assembled back. The idea is inspired by the BitTorrent protocol.

The devs reasoning is that, like in the case of BitTorrent, a decentralized server will be faster in terms of raw performance. The Blocktorrent system is being designed to let nodes forward each IP packet as soon as it is received. This, he reasons, will

“dramatically improve the bandwidth utilization efficiency of nodes during block propagation, and should reduce the block propagation latency for reaching the full network quite a lot — my current estimate is about 10x improvement over Xthinner.”

As one would expect, the prospect of having a viable solution to a central problem of the tech has excited many in the community. The BCH community has embraced both Xthinner and Blocktorrent announcement and it has quickly gained traction on most forums, going over the merits and challenges that presented itself with this offering.

All talk of small steps and giant strides come into focus at these moments. Although, these are but projections that have only been run in test scenarios, so a first real test will only come when it is deployed. Till then the excited chatter and positivity around this development are what the crypto industry will have to settle for.

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