Pioneer Lightning Network Author Releases Code for New Bitcoin Scaling Solution


The co-author of the original white paper on the bitcoin lightning payments network, Tadge Dryja, has formally released new research that outlines new scaling solution.

Dryja has reportedly worked on the new code dubbed Utreexo for the past one year. According to the researcher, the code will work by making a bitcoin transaction “state” or the “UTXO set” smaller and thus much easier to run via cryptographic proofs.

The Utreexo idea first became public early January after a publication from CoinDesk highlighted Dryja’s proposal. The Monday release, however, provides greater technical details.

Dryja worked on the “lightning” idea that proposed that pushing bitcoin transactions to a second layer could see the network scale significantly. Since then, multiple developer groups have worked to bring the technology into use for bitcoin payments.

And although lightning technology has gained much usage in recent months, it’s very much still an experiment and therefore not entirely safe.

The new proposal in Utreexo also focuses on the same technology as that for lightning, which is to make it easy for users to run bitcoin full nodes.

The Utreexo may require more computing resources when setting them up, but once operational, they provide the most secure way of transacting in bitcoin. With the code in place, users would not need to trust a third party to verify that network transactions are valid.

According to the paper, the gradual increase in the number of users on the bitcoin network has seen the UTXO set grow, which has, in the end, increased the cost of running a node. Over time, only a smaller number of users are able to run their own nodes, with more relying on either light clients or other third-party nodes.

Dryja’s paper, therefore, provides an outline of how nodes can leverage cryptographic proofs that allow them to store less data, all without having to compromise on network security.

The paper explains that the nodes that use the “accumulator” only need “a logarithmically sized representation of the UTXO set,” which greatly reduces the storage needs of the node as well as disk seek times.

Dryja reveals in the paper that he has run simulations of the code since January, with the code released on GitHub. He noted that implementations have shown how beneficial the code can be to bitcoin.

Although the performance numbers show a significant reduction in storage requirements, the bitcoin bandwidth load increases as a result of the proofs data. But Dryja notes that:

“In our simulations of downloading Bitcoin’s blockchain up to early 2019 with 500MB of RAM allocated for caching, the proofs only add approximately 25% to the amount otherwise downloaded.”

He also adds that the code is released in open source so that other developers who wish to test the idea presented in the paper.

And the technology can be integrated into bitcoin wallets, though according to Dryja, that could take some time to happen. Nonetheless, people can take advantage of the library and try it out.

Disclaimer: This is not investment advice. Cryptocurrencies are highly volatile assets and are very risky investments. Do your research and consult an investment professional before investing. Never invest more than you can afford to lose. Never borrow money to invest in cryptocurrencies.

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