You are likely to hear more and more about the AVALANCHE (AVAX) project. And in all likelihood, the phenomenon is not likely to end. Revealed a little over 2 years ago (but obviously resting on much older roots), surrounded both by an aura of mystery, as well as a collection of brilliant minds, the ambitions of ‘AVALANCHE are as discreet as they are ambitious: to reshape some of the most important fundamentals of blockchain and crypto technologies and push back some of the invisible walls that hamper the current industry, preventing it from “scaling”, as they say in the powerpoint of start-ups in incubation.
If one had to find a fault with AVALANCHE, it could be this: the concepts manipulated, the technicality of the innovations involved and the level of the architects behind the scenes is such that the project could seem complex to tackle in all its issues and its potentialities.
The opportunity to recall that at the time of the release of its white paper in 2009, few people fully understood the implications of Bitcoin.
And if the title of the day evokes a “post-Bitcoin era”, it is because AVALANCHE offers a novel approach to one of the aspects that precisely made Bitcoin so revolutionary: the central notion of Consensus.
However, this relative hermetism did not prevent a huge community from aggregating around AVALANCHE, making its very recent public sale a resounding success, with $ 42 million raised in a few hours. !
Now, it’s time to lift the veil on AVALANCHE to understand the challenges ahead of its highly anticipated release from its mainnet. And while the occasion will also be a good occasion to marvel at certain ethereal and elegant details of the network architecture, we will also talk about the AVAX token from the angle of investment and heritage. Ready to get on the snowmobile? We go around the massif
In search of the ideal consensus
From an academic point of view, it is considered that consensus consists in seeking general agreement on a decision to be taken or an action to be taken.
Consensus differs from unanimity and because it never hurts to be smart with a little culture, know that its exact opposite is dissensus, a word so rare, that it only exists in Latin (an example to understand: “Craig Wright is the inventor of Bitcoin” is a perfect dissensus).
Consensus as a system
The notion of consensus is intrinsically linked to that of governance and of democracy. Indeed, in a totalitarian, or even vaguely authoritarian, system, consensus is not sought : There is only the verticality imposed by a central authority, alpha and omega of decision-making.
Besides the authoritarianism of the thing, a vertical, centralized system is renowned for its rigidity, it is most often very slow, monolithic and not very flexible in its operation. This is valid whether we are talking about a social, technological or IT and of network.
At this point, you can see exactly where I am going. The rise in recent decades of computer networks, the web and distributed ledgers has particularly relied on the ability to imagine and implement new approaches and protocols capable of answering a simple question: how to guarantee the transmission of data. ‘information in a way quick, thrifty and infallible, on the scale of increasingly large and complex virtual structures, while avoiding a central authority?
An insoluble equation?
This central question, Vitalik Buterin, the co-creator of Ehereum will summarize it in a particularly elegant way by evoking the trilemma of blockchains.
A true Arlesian, this trilemma emphasizes that a distributed blockchain-type system tends to reconcile 3 major objectives … and irreconcilable:
- The decentralization, or the ability to do without any central authority, the key to a system “trustless“, In other words an environment where the architecture itself acts as a sufficient guarantee of trust,
- the security, the system must be foolproof, especially against attack or hijacking by malicious entities. Concretely, an actor or group of actors must not be able to take control of the network, or under conditions so complex and expensive that the event becomes statistically improbable,
- The scalability : the architecture must be able to “go to scale”, to process infinitely more exchanges without losing capacity
The whole difficulty in solving this equation is that the slightest action on one of these parameters will tend to impact the others more or less seriously.
Thus, more than decentralization will imply a less locked-in system, more actors, and a fall in security. A move upmarket of the scalability will often go hand in hand with a re-centralization, necessary for the management of the architecture, etc.
Note that we increasingly see a new vertex appear in this well-known triangle, the one that touches the confidentiality of exchanges on the network, one of the most important parameters, in a world that is more and more “transparent” by force. Thus, is the trilemma already disrupted by what should henceforth be qualified as quadrilemne of blockchains.
Add to this, a central notion in a world where everything is always going faster: the speed of exchanges within the network which will also be impacted by a strengthening of these 4 parameters.
The evolution of distributed ledger consensus
When Satoshi Nakamoto disseminates the White Paper of Bitcoin in 2009, nobody necessarily perceived that these few austere and hermetic pages were going to profoundly disrupt several areas of knowledge, and in particular that of consensus on distributed registers.
Until then, consensus qualified as “Classic“. Existing since the 80s, these tools are mainly made by computer scientists Barbara liskov and Leslie Lamport. Brilliant, however, this architecture has limitations in that all nodes in a network must be able to deal with all of their peers. The system is certainly quite fast, but not very secure. Above all, it is not suitable for large infrastructures (in other words, the speed allowed by this consensus has its security and scalability as a counterpart).
Thus, Bitcoin – besides the iconic crypto currency that we all know – is also the occasion for the emergence of what is henceforth called the Nakamoto consensus.
This approach by blocks, themselves linked together on a chain by power cryptographic is then unpublished. It offers this new type of architecture foolproof resistance, via the so-called “Proof of work”(“ Proof of work ”). The consensus is forged around the energy and IT competition of new players qualified as “miners”, victory in this competition guaranteeing the validation of transactions taking place on the Bitcoin blockchain.
If more than 10 years later, this system has demonstrated its solidity and his resilience, its limits are becoming more and more evident in a world in search of ever more immediacy. Indeed, while the 5G is being deployed that will allow theInternet of Thing (IoT), which recent fiber optic experiments make it possible to download the entire Netfix in 1 second, the world is no longer able to wait between 10 minutes and 1 hour for an operation to take place on the Bitcoin blockchain. Have blockchain technologies already reached their organic growth limits, proving unable to offer a distributed architecture combining security, speed, decentralization and universality? We might have feared it, if it had not been for the emergence a few months ago of a new project which is accompanied by nothing less than a new class of consensus: AVALANCHE.
The AVALANCHE consensus
When Satoshi Nakamoto conceptualizes and makes Bitcoin known to the world, it is certain that he himself is aware that its creation to be improved, adapted, even why not outdated. There is thus no crime of crypto-majesty to be congratulated that 10 years later, hundreds of the most brilliant minds who are striving to complete the work begun by the founding father. In 2020, several ecosystem initiatives deserve respect for joining this movement of funds. And it is also from this angle that the AVALANCHE project should be presented.
By the way, we can have fun with the fact that – just like bitcoin – the team that came up with the first AVALANCHE sketch did so anonymously and discreetly.
On April 18, 2018, the White Paper “Snowflake to Avalanche: A Novel Metastable Consensus Protocol Family for Cryptocurrencies” is posted on the IPFS forum. The 21-page, very dense document is a jewel of elegance in its presentation of a new family of protocols forming part of what is now called “Avalanche consensus“. If these few pages fit into the culture of austerity of a Nakamoto, it should be noted that the group of authors presents itself as “Team Rocket”, which fans of Japanese anime should perfectly identify.
It will only take a few hours for this White Paper to catch the attention of specialists in the crypto and distributed ledgers industry and among them, Emin Gün Sirer, a prominent figure in the ecosystem. Emin is notably the inventor in 2003 of Karma, the very first proof-of-work cryptocurrency, just that.
The researcher has also been active in improving Bitcoin since its inception, not hesitating to scratch Nakamoto’s model on occasion. He explains in 2013 as part of the trial “Majority is not Enough: Bitcoin Mining is Vulnerable” in what the Bitcoin system is vulnerable from the takeover of 33% of the network.
Criticisms about the consensus and the Bitcoin protocol in PoW to which Emin Gün Sirer sees a solution in the pages of the White Paper of the mysterious Team Rocket. What are the real links between the cryptographer and the latter? A question that will likely remain unanswered, but which is already an integral part of modern crypto culture.
The Avalanche protocol family
As we discover AVALANCHE, the obvious is that this innovative consensus architecture does not plan to make things a little better, or to propose a simple new iteration of the existing one. The ambition is quite different: achieve a new paradigm, such as to combine the best of several worlds
” In the wake of Nakamoto’s work, the world still wanted a protocol with all the advantages of the Nakamoto consensus (robustness, decentralization) and all the advantages of the classical consensus (speed, scale, speed, and energy efficiency). The Crypto version of the proverb, “to have butter and money from butter” “
“Avalanche Consensus Explained Simply” (source)
The entire AVALANCHE value proposition is based on a set of consensus modules pursuing distinct objectives and the interweaving of which constitutes a complex and high-performance building.
- Slush (melting snow). It is the consensus that allows the network nodes to operate under the guise of what is termed “metastability“. This protocol is not designed to be Byzantine-fault-proof, in other words, this primary consensus is not on its own to solve the Nemesis of blockchain architectures. In contrast, Slush is ultra-resilient to system failure by its very nature. Within it, information circulates in all directions towards a epidemic protocol, or “Gossip protocol”. In other words, the nodes communicate with each other by contagion, influencing each other until consensus and validation emerge.
Illustration of the epidemic protocol phenomenon:
- Snowflake (Snowflake). As we have seen, the Slush protocol is rustic, but its robustness goes hand in hand with a certain lack of subtlety. For example, Slush does not keep memory of the previous state of network nodes. This is where Snowflake comes in. This protocol will compile the different states of the nodes, and arbitrate in order to bring about the consensus within the framework of an exchange / a transaction. unlike Slush, Snowflake is resistant to Byzantine failures
- Snowball (snowball). This third protocol further complicates the network by giving it an essential capacity: a larger memory of node state changes and by extension, the possibility of extracting a degree of confidence from them. By survey, Snowball is able to qualify the level of confidence of network actors and by extension, to flush out potentially harmful actors.
- Avalanche. This last protocol, which gives its name to the project as a whole, completes the building by giving it its true nature. distributed ledger, involving the recording and conservation of exchanges taking place on the network, in the form of a DAG (Directed Acylic Graph).
The detail of this entanglement of protocols could put off non-specialists, yet it is this which constitutes an unprecedented value proposition that retains the advantages of the classical and Nakamoto consensuses, while bringing them notable improvements, from a standpoint. of the speed of transactions and energy saving in particular.
With as a starting point the White Paper of the “Team Rocket”, Emin Gün Sirer assembled a team and founded AVA labs, an initiative to offer a panel of blockchain services based on AVALANCHE.
For almost two years now, AVA Labs has spared no efforts to set up a network that will be able to receive all the functionalities currently available on the main emblematic blockchain platforms of the sector, regardless of whether they are “historical” (Bitcoin, Ethereum…) or more recent.
First in line
Whether it is about the huge body of documents or the number of tutorials and initiatives flourishing around the project, it must be admitted: there does not seem to exist at the present time any topics related to blockchain technologies in which AVALANCHE is unable to excel. Note that AVA Lab has set up what has been called an Ethereum “spoon” (a friendly “fork”, did you name it?) Athereum.
Launched as a Testnet on the main network in October 2019, Athereum is a carbon copy of Ethereum on which all the ecosystem tools are available: deployment of DApp, smart contract, Metamask, Truffle, etc.
The Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT)? The Decentralized Finance, complex smart contracts? Simple formalities for a network whose Emin Gün Sirer maliciously explained last March that he would be able to immediately launch the POS version of Ethereum 2.0, which is causing such a hard time for the Vitalik team….
And because beyond the big promises, nothing beats a glance under the hood to judge performance, the following table provides an overview of the capabilities of the AVALANCHE network in relation to Bitcoin, Ethereum and Tendermint.
For the most part, we note that AVALANCHE suggests a capacity to manage 4500 transactions per second, these transactions execute themselves in less than 3 seconds … and even faster if we are to believe the current final adjustments before the imminent launch of the AVALANCHE mainnet.
Despite a certain technicality, and the rigor of a two long “crypto winter”, AVALANCHE quickly gathered a very large community around the world. It is in part because of her that the public sale of the AVAX token, the network’s utility token, was a resounding success.
Indeed, the space of a few hours the oldest will have been able to have the impression to relive certain great hours of the crazy period of 2017. With $ 42 million raised in less than 5 hours, and 72 million AVAXs sold. The operation marked the spirits and materialized to what extent AVAX had a consensus (necessarily) both in the community and the general public but also within the crypto industry (among the contributors to the sale was a transaction from Ethereum Genesis block, a most symbolic support).
Course, function, outlook … Understanding everything about the AVAX token
The AVAX token is said “utility“. In other words, he doesn’t just aspire to be a simple store of value, or an umpteenth monetary union on a network without a goal, but should be seen as the linchpin of AVALANCHE. At this stage, you have understood it correctly, the AVAX is not an ordinary token but will have its own blockchain, the same one whose launch is now imminent, once the phase EVEREST (see a little below) will have been completed.
There can be no more 720 million AVAXs produced in total, whereas a large part of this quantity will be destroyed as part of transactions taking place on the network (learn more about the technical documentation).
On the occasion of the public sale, 72 million AVAX tokens found takers, assorted or not, various locking mechanisms so as to ward off any massive sale phenomenon. Vesting (freezing) periods of 1 year to 18 months have thus been put in place. Note that the AVAXs kept for the foundation are locked for 10 years, those of the team, Four years. A new demonstration if there was a need for the AVALANCHE team to put their project into the long term.
As a PoS (proof of stake) architecture, AVALANCHE will be accompanied by a staking. Locking 2000 AVAX for a minimum of 2 weeks will qualify for dividends of 8 to 12% per year. 50% of the entire total supply will be dedicated to incentive staking, for a total of 360 million tokens.
If technology brings tears to our eyes and everyone will be happy about the upcoming rise of AVALANCHE, let’s face it: participants in the various AVAX sales are hoping more or less secretly to have taken the opportunity to make a good investment.
If, as you are aware, the forecasts in crypto matters are necessarily hazardous, we will agree that for the moment, the AVAX token ticks all the relevant boxes : limited and controlled token issue, ultra-anticipated project with high potential, future prospects and triple A partnership… The future could thus be bright for the happy owners of AVAX, and even why not for investors who will know how to position as soon as they are made available on exchanges when leaving the Mainnet.
To be patient, we will just remember that Cryptocurrencies echoed the listing on the French platform ZEBITEX a preview of a few thousand AVAXs, with obvious success
Take advantage, there may even be a little left.
This pre-listing in IOU (“I Owe You”, literally “I owe you”) took the form of a sale of some sort of debt on future AVAXs; At present, some exchanges offer this option, thus offering a taste of the possible valuation of AVAX, (mistrust : this phenomenon, essentially fueled by the “hype” around the project could be misleading and does not allow to prejudge the reality of the value of AVAX at the time of its official listing. Take it as an indication of a trend, in all its imperfection).
The Testnet Denali
As we have seen, the AVALANCHE project encourages and benefits from a very strong community involvement. Thus, before the curtain rises in a few days with the start of the Mainnet, a large test phase was organized this summer under the title “Testnet Denali”. Thanks to the availability of numerous tutorials, everyone was encouraged to set up a validation node on the testnet, then to carry out various experiments.
The idea was obviously to make the whole thing work in crash-test mode, but also to materialize one of AVALANCHE’s promises: to make a network node work with basic computer equipment, or even the old jaw harp coming all the way. right from your high school years and that stalls your closet. Message received 5 out of 5 by some, who took the developers at their word by turning a knot… in a shoebox!
Balance sheet: 1000 knot (including the shoebox), 16 subnets put in place, 11 blockchains deployed and more than 150 assets created, all across 60 countries. Results “for fakes” which in fact exceed many projects supposedly operational for years.
The Endgame Everest
We continue in the mountain allegory: considering that AVALANCHE is in the very last straight line (well, runs down the final black slope), what better illustration than that of the highest summit of the planet to embody the last warm-up lap and the final adjustments.
This is how for the past week, the community has been encouraged to perform multiple tasks on the network, and push the settings to the maximum for a final tightening of the bolt before the big launch. 2 days ago, the number 2 of the project Kevin sekniqi has thus proceeded to a final checkpoint.
Kevin is particularly pleased with the fact that 650 block validators have taken part in EVEREST and that the network has never been so efficient, with an optimized user experience. Kevin takes the opportunity to officially announce a launch date for the mainnet and the AVAX listing, both events are now scheduled for mid-September, time to make the final adjustments.
And tomorrow ?
You have now seen that AVALANCHE is an extraordinary project, one of those who can change the face of industry and take it to the next stage. This is the reason why I venture to speak of a “post-Bitcoin era”. Not that I think Bitcoin can be disrupted so easily, but more precisely because projects like AVALANCHE could perfectly affect populations and sectors that will always remain inaccessible – or insensitive – the creation of Satoshi Nakamoto.
This article was written within the framework of the community program of the AVALANCHE project.
Nice to meet you, I’m Hellmouth! Editor-in-chief of Cryptocurrencies, the crypto medium that you do me the honor to survey right now (well done, you have taste).
Crypto-enthusiast of the second hour, nothing is more important to me than to support the global adoption and the democratization of the treasures offered to us by blockchain.
I write articles in between cocktails in Tahiti, my adopted island, and don’t mind, if the opportunity arises, to feast on a plump scam or an overly enterprising Ponzi scheme.
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