ANALOG: THE WORLD’S FIRST BLOCKCHAIN-POWERED TIMEGRAPH
AbstractIn January 2009, Satoshi Nakamoto set out the Bitcoin Blockchain in motion, simultaneously advancing two radical and untested hypotheses. The first hypothesis was that “bitcoin”—a decentralized and peer-to-peer (P2P) digital currency—could be created and the network’s value maintained without backing from a central issuer. However, the proof-of-work (PoW) concept as a mechanism that eliminates the double-spending problem was another equally important aspect of Nakamoto’s hypothesis. As an application, Bitcoin can best be described as a first-to-file and not a first-to-invent system. In other words, there are no mechanisms to establish consensus about the order in which transactions arrive on the Blockchain. Yet, verified time data can help maximize the efficiency of the network. Nakamoto’s Blockchain was the first credible solution for decentralized networks. Many Blockchains have since been implemented to solve various issues. However, none of them solves the problem of verifiability when it comes to time data. Also, the current decentralized ledger technology (DLT) ecosystem is in danger of balkanization, with a series of unconnected Blockchains operating in silos. To prioritize interoperability, we need to establish a radically decentralized, secure, and trustless layer onto which multiple Blockchains can anchor their transactions. Analog is the world’s first layer-0 and multi-chain protocol that leverages the proof-of-time (PoT) consensus to establish an indisputable history of events. The PoT consensus mechanism provides a scalable, adaptable, and fully decentralized layer-0 multi-chain that connects seamlessly with other protocols, creating interconnected value chains. The PoT consensus protocol described here enables the Analog network to achieve an average block time of 0.4 seconds and a theoretical throughput of 800,000 transactions per second (tps). The Analog network also uses two additional protocols that leverage the time data properties of the Timechain: zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs) that preserve privacy and block pipelining that enhances throughput. This paper describes high-level technical aspects of how the Analog protocol operates.
Validated Time Data as Enabler for Digital Transformation
Time and order have a very close relationship. The notion of time is essential to how humans think and act. Humans derive time from the more fundamental concept of the order in which events take place. Without time, intuitive notions such as “before,” “after,” and “simultaneously” cannot manifest themselves.
Validated time data is necessary to maximize efficiency and modernize processes. Despite the significance of time data in generating value for businesses, there is no universal and consensus-based approach to measure and document its passing. Let us take the food supply chain as an example.
A typical food supply chain has multiple internet-of-things (IoT) sensors that generate time data along the chain. The submitted time data from sensors is essential because it can help stakeholders determine the status of the shipments and prevent counterfeits that can result in foodborne outbreaks.
Without a mechanism to verify time data, bad actors can generate fake timestamps and submit them as time entries along the supply chain. This can potentially increase fraudulent activities, administrative costs, and affect the company’s brand reputation. Companies can leverage Blockchain to streamline supply chain processes because it provides a single version of the truth, offering greater visibility across all the activities.
However, despite their novelty, current Blockchains cannot solve the issue of validated time data because they operate largely as “first-to-file” systems. Without a robust consensus protocol to verify time data, bad actors can submit fake time data, and miners simply append such data to the ledger without being penalized.
Current Consensus Algorithms
Nakamoto’s PoW consensus protocol provided a glimpse of how decentralized systems can arrive at a consensus via cryptographic primitives. According to Nakamoto, an immutable ledger could be created if the blocks were ordered based on their arrival times on the ledger and linked via cryptographic primitives.
How decentralized systems can arrive at a consensus via cryptographic primitives. According to Nakamoto, an immutable ledger could be created if the blocks were ordered based on their arrival times on the ledger and linked via cryptographic primitives.
However, while the PoW solved the decades-old double-spending problem in Bitcoin, the network operates as a first-to-file system. For example, if Alice has 20 BTC and simultaneously sends the same 20 BTC to Bob and Charles, the network only confirms the first transaction to be processed.
In other words, there is no intrinsic mechanism to determine which transaction came earlier from the two transactions. This problem persists with other consensus protocols such as proof-of-stake (PoS), proof-of-elapsed-time (PoET), proof-of-authority (PoA), and proof-of-staked-authority (PoSA).
Besides the lack of universal, verifiable time data, the current web 3.0 landscape mirrors the same problems that web 2.0 technologies have— siloing, vulnerability, and mismanagement of user privacy. The web 2.0 architecture problems, in particular, can be traced to the deviation of the sector from early Internet values, which prioritized interoperability as a factor for a sustainable and equitable connected world.
The Blockchain ecosystem faces similar risks, where players have deprioritized cross-chain interoperability as they race to implement siloed Blockchains for particular use cases quicker than their competitors.
True Blockchain’s potentials can only be realized if an interoperability framework exists to unite all the major Blockchains. That is why we are unveiling the Analog network with three primary goals:
- To unveil a layer-0 multi-chain protocol that facilitates cross-chain interoperability. We believe such a protocol will allow developers to build decentralized applications (DApps) which can easily transfer tokens, transmit time data, and initiate calls across multiple Blockchains.
- To unveil a PoT consensus protocol that creates universal, verifiable time data on the Timechain. The Analog network is the first realistic attempt at moving the world from a “timeless mess” to a “time-driven” ecosystem that uses validated time data.
- To unveil zero-knowledge succinct non-interactive argument of knowledge (zk-SNARKS) as mechanisms that preserve data privacies on the platform.
The rest of the paper is organized into seven as follows:
- Section II explores the current landscape of time data and its relevance for modern applications.
- Section III introduces the Analog network.
- Section IV provides an overview of ZKPs and how the Analog network uses them to enforce privacy-preserving in user data.
- Section V delves deeper to explain how the PoT consensus algorithm works.
- Section VI explains how the Analog network leverages Block Pipelining to enhance the network’s throughput.
- Finally, Section VIII explores Analog’s continuum smart contracts and how they enable various functionalities on the platform.