Dash & ASU Blockchain Research Lab Discuss New Research on Scaling Solutions

When discussing key issues facing crypto and blockchain and other Nakamoto networks, the possibility and ability of scaling these networks has been the primary concern and focus. Dash, a digital currency for payments and e-commerce, partnered with the Arizona State University Blockchain Research Lab to explore scaling challenges and potential opportunities for the Dash blockchain. The short research paper, ASU/ DASH: Block Propagation Applied to Nakamoto Networks
analyzes different scaling solution scenario simulations for the Dash network and also provides potential insights on the scalability challenges facing Proof-of-Work (PoW) blockchains.

“Scalability has been a key challenge for the blockchain industry, but the lack of academic research into the issue has been notable. The implication of this research is prodigious not only for Dash, but for crypto as a whole,” explained Dash Core CEO Ryan Taylor.  “First, it means we can continue increasing block size and network capacity to at least five times our current capacity in the near term. This means we will soon have 40 times the capacity of the Bitcoin network and a credible path to scaling further in the future. This is the type of scalability we need to achieve mass adoption as a daily payments solution.”

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘The implication of this research is prodigious not only for Dash, but for crypto as a whole.’ @Dashpay @ASU #blockchain #crypto” quote=”‘The implication of this research is prodigious not only for Dash, but for crypto as a whole.’ @Dashpay @ASU #blockchain #crypto”]

The ASU eam led by Dragan Boscovic and researchers Nakul Chawla and Darren Tapp focused on simulating different block size scaling scenarios for the Dash network with three different types of block propagation protocols: traditional full block propagation, compact block propagation and extreme thin (xthin) block propagation. The lab indicated that each simulation ran was applied to networks with at least 6,000 nodes and to account for variance the simulations were run long enough to simulate at least 700 blocks

“The scalability question has been a major limiting factor for most cryptocurrencies, as there has been doubt surrounding whether or not these networks can scale to handle mass adoption,” noted Professor Dragan Boscovic, director of the ASU Blockchain Research Lab and professor in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. “Through this research, which was made possible by our partnership with Dash, we were able to investigate the scaling limitations of the Dash network while also exploring various block propagation techniques. We’re excited to broaden our research in the future to potentially explore other pertinent topics including the operation of mining pools, and the role of multi-tier networks.”

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘Through this research, which was made possible by our partnership with Dash, we were able to investigate the #scaling limitations of the @DashPay network while also exploring various block propagation techniques.’ @ASU #blockchain” quote=”‘Through this research, which was made possible by our partnership with Dash, we were able to investigate the #scaling limitations of the @DashPay network while also exploring various block propagation techniques.’ @ASU #blockchain”]

Research revealed the following key highlights:

  • Scaling to 10MB block sizes is feasible for the Dash network when utilizing xthin block propagation. Utilizing compact block propagation, the Dash network can reliably scale to between 6MB-8MB block sizes with a negligible orphan block rate.
  • Based on the simulation data, scaling well beyond 10MB block sizes using compact or xthin block propagation, while maintaining a minimal orphan block rate, is realistic.
  • If miners are acting “rationally” and “in search of a profit,” there is an “economic limit” that disincentivizes mining blocks that eclipse .9MB in transactions using traditional block propagation techniques (unless higher transaction fees are included in the block); however, when using xthin propagation the economic limit disappears in block sizes up to 10MB.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Based on the simulation data, scaling well beyond 10MB block sizes using compact or #xthin block propagation, while maintaining a minimal orphan block rate, is realistic.  @ASU @DashPay” quote=”Based on the simulation data, scaling well beyond 10MB block sizes using compact or #xthin block propagation, while maintaining a minimal orphan block rate, is realistic.  @ASU @DashPay”]

The simulations were carried out at ASU’s Center for Assured and Scalable Data Engineering (CASCADE). The research is part of a $350,000 partnership that was announced in January 2018 between Dash and ASU, which was funded by Dash’s unique treasury system and includes funds earmarked for the Blockchain Research Lab as well as a Dash Scholars program.

“We believe that our commitment to ASU will have network effects beyond our immediate partnership with ASU. The Dash Scholars program helps attract top blockchain talent to the ASU engineering program, which will help ensure ASU becomes a leading institution on this important emerging technology,” explained Taylor to Crowdfund Insider via email. “Through partnerships like this between academia and industry, we can help establish an ecosystem of talent that will yield dividends for our project and the blockchain industry across the state and region, and even in the short term, yield valuable research to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Dash payment network.”

[clickToTweet tweet=”Just Received! New Comments from @Dashpay @ASU about Dash Scholars Program #blockchain #crypto ” quote=”Just Received! New Comments from @Dashpay @ASU about Dash Scholars Program #blockchain #crypto “]

ASU Professor Boscovic further elaborated to Crowdfund Insider about the new partnership program:

“The Dash Scholars Program provided 15 blockchain-related scholarships to students of different academic progression. $10,000 was awarded to five incoming freshmen, $5,000 for two students of each of the other undergraduate academic level (sophomore, junior, senior) of study and $5,000 for four graduate students, with the objective of building meaningful guidance and real-world exposure for students studying blockchain technology. The available funding puts more weight towards incoming freshmen enabling more impact with the outreach effort. This allows Dash to gain large national coverage targeting high school students while directing a pipeline of blockchain talent to the Dash network. The students from each level of study (freshman through graduate students) are selected to build a community of scholars and mentors at ASU. Scholarships were selected through criteria jointly agreed upon by ASU and Dash and awarded through the ASU scholarship process for the academic year 2018-2019. Scholarships will be renewable pending available additional funding from Dash.”

The funding received by ASU has helped to grow research around Dash and other blockchain initiatives at ASU.

“In addition to funding the research, the blockchain research lab is involved with other initiatives such as use-cases for blockchain and the power grid, distributed encryption services, IoT and blockchain, mining hardware efficiency, research on existing and newly emerging consensus models, and public educational blockchain course development provided by ASU,” added Boscovic.

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