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U.S. University Is Making Headway on the Problem of Bitcoin Scalability

Aug 19, 2018, 6:50AM
1 min, 56 sec READ

Northwestern University, Illinois, and bloXroute Labs have been developing a scalability solution for Bitcoin and other mainstream blockchains

A team of researchers at Northwestern University, Illinois, is making headway against one of the biggest problems facing the Bitcoin network: scalability. The team is working alongside bloXroute Labs, an innovative company that looks to provide a solution to the scalability issue facing many blockchains without compromising the decentralized nature of their networks.

We are scaling at 100 times better than what bitcoin is doing now / Sarit Markovich, Clinical Associate Professor of Strategy at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University

BloXroute Labs and the Northwestern University (NU) team are taking a refreshing approach to solving scalability. Traditionally, blocks are mined on the Bitcoin network, and then broadcast through a peer-to-peer relay until the entire network has received the new block. This process is cumbersome, as network participants must wait until all members have received the block before the network can move forward with verifying the set of transactions. NU is working around this “scalability bottleneck” by compressing blocks, allowing the network to send smaller sized chunks of data, while still maintaining the same amount of information.

While the bloXroute whitepaper explains the proposed scalability solution in full, one key concept from the whitepaper can help us understand what the team is trying to do. Essentially, bloXroute looks to semi-centralize a blockchain by creating an ecosystem where a trusted set of independent servers propagates blocks throughout the network. This is similar to the existing centralized blockchains of projects like Ripple, but reversed, thus maintaining the decentralized and trustless nature of the blockchain.

While centralized systems place trust in a subset of nodes to enable scalability, bloXroute enables scalability by using a small set of servers which place trust in the entire network instead. The system utilizes a Blockchain Distribution Network (BDN) to enable scaling, yet nodes need not place any trust in the BDN. Instead, the BDN blindly serves the nodes, without knowledge of the blocks it propagates, their origin, or their destination. / bloXroute whitepaper

The bloXroute solution is exciting in that it could help solve the scalability issues of not only Bitcoin but of other mainstream blockchains as well. Scalability is one of the biggest hurdles facing crypto-adoption, and if a solution such as bloXroute can help bring cryptocurrency networks on-par with those of central banks, many believe we would see a mass-movement towards decentralized currencies.

Disclaimer: information contained herein is provided without considering your personal circumstances, therefore should not be construed as financial advice, investment recommendation or an offer of, or solicitation for, any transactions in cryptocurrencies.