I thought it would be really cool to have an ultimate guide for those new to crypto currencies and the terms used. I made this mostly for beginner’s and veterans alike. I’m not sure how much use you will get out of this. Stuff gets lost on Reddit quite easily so I hope this finds its way to you. Included in this list, I have included most of the terms used in crypto-communities. I have compiled this list from a multitude of sources. The list is in alphabetical order and may include some words/terms not exclusive to the crypto world but may be helpful regardless. 2FA
Two factor authentication. I highly advise that you use it. 51% Attack:
A situation where a single malicious individual or group gains control of more than half of a cryptocurrency network’s computing power. Theoretically, it could allow perpetrators to manipulate the system and spend the same coin multiple times, stop other users from completing blocks and make conflicting transactions to a chain that could harm the network. Address (or Addy):
A unique string of numbers and letters (both upper and lower case) used to send, receive or store cryptocurrency on the network. It is also the public key in a pair of keys needed to sign a digital transaction. Addresses can be shared publicly as a text or in the form of a scannable QR code. They differ between cryptocurrencies. You can’t send Bitcoin to an Ethereum address, for example. Altcoin (alternative coin):
Any digital currency other than Bitcoin. These other currencies are alternatives to Bitcoin regarding features and functionalities (e.g. faster confirmation time, lower price, improved mining algorithm, higher total coin supply). There are hundreds of altcoins, including Ether, Ripple, Litecoin and many many others. AIRDROP:
An event where the investors/participants are able to receive free tokens or coins into their digital wallet. AML:
Defines Anti-Money Laundering laws**.** ARBITRAGE:
Getting risk-free profits by trading (simultaneous buying and selling of the cryptocurrency) on two different exchanges which have different prices for the same asset. Ashdraked:
Being Ashdraked is essentially a more detailed version of being Zhoutonged. It is when you lose all of your invested capital, but you do so specifically by shorting Bitcoin. The expression “Ashdraked” comes from a story of a Romanian cryptocurrency investor who insisted upon shorting BTC, as he had done so successfully in the past. When the price of BTC rose from USD 300 to USD 500, the Romanian investor lost all of his money. ATH (All Time High):
The highest price ever achieved by a cryptocurrency in its entire history. Alternatively, ATL is all time low Bearish:
A tendency of prices to fall; a pessimistic expectation that the value of a coin is going to drop. Bear trap:
A manipulation of a stock or commodity by investors. Bitcoin:
The very first, and the highest ever valued, mass-market open source and decentralized cryptocurrency and digital payment system that runs on a worldwide peer to peer network. It operates independently of any centralized authorities Bitconnect:
One of the biggest scams in the crypto world. it was made popular in the meme world by screaming idiot Carlos Matos, who infamously proclaimed," hey hey heeeey” and “what's a what's a what's up wasssssssssuuuuuuuuuuuuup, BitConneeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeect!”. He is now in the mentally ill meme hall of fame. Block:
A package of permanently recorded data about transactions occurring every time period (typically about 10 minutes) on the blockchain network. Once a record has been completed and verified, it goes into a blockchain and gives way to the next block. Each block also contains a complex mathematical puzzle with a unique answer, without which new blocks can’t be added to the chain. Blockchain:
An unchangeable digital record of all transactions ever made in a particular cryptocurrency and shared across thousands of computers worldwide. It has no central authority governing it. Records, or blocks, are chained to each other using a cryptographic signature. They are stored publicly and chronologically, from the genesis block to the latest block, hence the term blockchain. Anyone can have access to the database and yet it remains incredibly difficult to hack. Bullish:
A tendency of prices to rise; an optimistic expectation that a specific cryptocurrency will do well and its value is going to increase. BTFD:
Buy the fucking dip. This advise was bestowed upon us by the gods themselves. It is the iron code to crypto enthusiasts. Bull market:
A market that Cryptos are going up. Consensus:
An agreement among blockchain participants on the validity of data. Consensus is reached when the majority of nodes on the network verify that the transaction is 100% valid. Crypto bubble:
The instability of cryptocurrencies in terms of price value Cryptocurrency:
A type of digital currency, secured by strong computer code (cryptography), that operates independently of any middlemen or central authoritie Cryptography:
The art of converting sensitive data into a format unreadable for unauthorized users, which when decoded would result in a meaningful statement. Cryptojacking:
The use of someone else’s device and profiting from its computational power to mine cryptocurrency without their knowledge and consent. Crypto-Valhalla:
When HODLers(holders) eventually cash out they go to a place called crypto-Valhalla. The strong will be separated from the weak and the strong will then be given lambos. DAO:
Decentralized Autonomous Organizations. It defines A blockchain technology inspired organization or corporation that exists and operates without human intervention. Dapp (decentralized application):
An open-source application that runs and stores its data on a blockchain network (instead of a central server) to prevent a single failure point. This software is not controlled by the single body – information comes from people providing other people with data or computing power. Decentralized:
A system with no fundamental control authority that governs the network. Instead, it is jointly managed by all users to the system. Desktop wallet:
A wallet that stores the private keys on your computer, which allow the spending and management of your bitcoins. DILDO:
Long red or green candles. This is a crypto signal that tells you that it is not favorable to trade at the moment. Found on candlestick charts. Digital Signature:
An encrypted digital code attached to an electronic document to prove that the sender is who they say they are and confirm that a transaction is valid and should be accepted by the network. Double Spending:
An attack on the blockchain where a malicious user manipulates the network by sending digital money to two different recipients at exactly the same time. DYOR:
Means do your own research. Encryption:
Converting data into code to protect it from unauthorized access, so that only the intended recipient(s) can decode it. Eskrow:
the practice of having a third party act as an intermediary in a transaction. This third party holds the funds on and sends them off when the transaction is completed. Ethereum:
Ethereum is an open source, public, blockchain-based platform that runs smart contracts and allows you to build dapps on it. Ethereum is fueled by the cryptocurrency Ether. Exchange:
A platform (centralized or decentralized) for exchanging (trading) different forms of cryptocurrencies. These exchanges allow you to exchange cryptos for local currency. Some popular exchanges are Coinbase, Bittrex, Kraken and more. Faucet:
A website which gives away free cryptocurrencies. Fiat money:
Fiat currency is legal tender whose value is backed by the government that issued it, such as the US dollar or UK pound. Fork:
A split in the blockchain, resulting in two separate branches, an original and a new alternate version of the cryptocurrency. As a single blockchain forks into two, they will both run simultaneously on different parts of the network. For example, Bitcoin Cash is a Bitcoin fork. FOMO:
Fear of missing out. Frictionless:
A system is frictionless when there are zero transaction costs or trading retraints. FUD:
Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt regarding the crypto market. Gas:
A fee paid to run transactions, dapps and smart contracts on Ethereum. Halving:
A 50% decrease in block reward after the mining of a pre-specified number of blocks. Every 4 years, the “reward” for successfully mining a block of bitcoin is reduced by half. This is referred to as “Halving”. Hardware wallet:
Physical wallet devices that can securely store cryptocurrency maximally. Some examples are Ledger Nano S**,** Digital Bitbox and more**.** Hash:
The process that takes input data of varying sizes, performs an operation on it and converts it into a fixed size output. It cannot be reversed. Hashing:
The process by which you mine bitcoin or similar cryptocurrency, by trying to solve the mathematical problem within it, using cryptographic hash functions. HODL:
A Bitcoin enthusiast once accidentally misspelled the word HOLD and it is now part of the bitcoin legend. It can also mean hold on for dear life. ICO (Initial Coin Offering):
A blockchain-based fundraising mechanism, or a public crowd sale of a new digital coin, used to raise capital from supporters for an early stage crypto venture. Beware of these as there have been quite a few scams in the past. John mcAfee:
A man who will one day eat his balls on live television for falsely predicting bitcoin going to 100k. He has also become a small meme within the crypto community for his outlandish claims. JOMO:
Joy of missing out. For those who are so depressed about missing out their sadness becomes joy. KYC:
Know your customer(alternatively consumer). Lambo:
This stands for Lamborghini. A small meme within the investing community where the moment someone gets rich they spend their earnings on a lambo. One day we will all have lambos in crypto-valhalla. Ledger:
Away from Blockchain, it is a book of financial transactions and balances. In the world of crypto, the blockchain functions as a ledger. A digital currency’s ledger records all transactions which took place on a certain block chain network. Leverage:
Trading with borrowed capital (margin) in order to increase the potential return of an investment. Liquidity:
The availability of an asset to be bought and sold easily, without affecting its market price.
of the coins. Margin trading:
The trading of assets or securities bought with borrowed money. Market cap/MCAP:
A short-term for Market Capitalization. Market Capitalization refers to the market value of a particular cryptocurrency. It is computed by multiplying the Price of an individual unit of coins by the total circulating supply. Miner:
A computer participating in any cryptocurrency network performing proof of work. This is usually done to receive block rewards. Mining:
The act of solving a complex math equation to validate a blockchain transaction using computer processing power and specialized hardware. Mining contract:
A method of investing in bitcoin mining hardware, allowing anyone to rent out a pre-specified amount of hashing power, for an agreed amount of time. The mining service takes care of hardware maintenance, hosting and electricity costs, making it simpler for investors. Mining rig:
A computer specially designed for mining cryptocurrencies. Mooning:
A situation the price of a coin rapidly increases in value. Can also be used as: “I hope bitcoin goes to the moon” Node:
Any computing device that connects to the blockchain network. Open source:
The practice of sharing the source code for a piece of computer software, allowing it to be distributed and altered by anyone. OTC:
Over the counter. Trading is done directly between parties. P2P (Peer to Peer):
A type of network connection where participants interact directly with each other rather than through a centralized third party. The system allows the exchange of resources from A to B, without having to go through a separate server. Paper wallet:
A form of “cold storage” where the private keys are printed onto a piece of paper and stored offline. Considered as one of the safest crypto wallets, the truth is that it majors in sweeping coins from your wallets. Pre mining:
The mining of a cryptocurrency by its developers before it is released to the public. Proof of stake (POS):
A consensus distribution algorithm which essentially rewards you based upon the amount of the coin that you own. In other words, more investment in the coin will leads to more gain when you mine with this protocol In Proof of Stake, the resource held by the “miner” is their stake in the currency. PROOF OF WORK (POW)
The competition of computers competing to solve a tough crypto math problem. The first computer that does this is allowed to create new blocks and record information.” The miner is then usually rewarded via transaction fees. Protocol:
A standardized set of rules for formatting and processing data. Public key / private key:
A cryptographic code that allows a user to receive cryptocurrencies into an account. The public key is made available to everyone via a publicly accessible directory, and the private key remains confidential to its respective owner. Because the key pair is mathematically related, whatever is encrypted with a public key may only be decrypted by its corresponding private key. Pump and dump:
Massive buying and selling activity of cryptocurrencies (sometimes organized and to one’s benefit) which essentially result in a phenomenon where the significant surge in the value of coin followed by a huge crash take place in a short time frame. Recovery phrase:
A set of phrases you are given whereby you can regain or access your wallet should you lose the private key to your wallets — paper, mobile, desktop, and hardware wallet. These phrases are some random 12–24 words. A recovery Phrase can also be called as Recovery seed, Seed Key, Recovery Key, or Seed Phrase. REKT:
Referring to the word “wrecked”. It defines a situation whereby an investor or trader who has been ruined utterly following the massive losses suffered in crypto industry. Ripple:
An alternative payment network to Bitcoin based on similar cryptography. The ripple network uses XRP as currency and is capable of sending any asset type. ROI:
Return on investment. Safu:
A crypto term for safe popularized by the Bizonnaci YouTube channel after the CEO of Binance tweeted
“Funds are safe." “the exchage I use got hacked!”“Oh no, are your funds safu?” “My coins better be safu!”
The smallest fraction of a bitcoin is called a “satoshi” or “sat”. It represents one hundred-millionth of a bitcoin and is named after Satoshi Nakamoto. Satoshi Nakamoto:
This was the pseudonym for the mysterious creator of Bitcoin. Scalability:
The ability of a cryptocurrency to contain the massive use of its Blockchain. Sharding:
A scaling solution for the Blockchain. It is generally a method that allows nodes to have partial copies of the complete blockchain in order to increase overall network performance and consensus speeds. Shitcoin:
Coin with little potential or future prospects. Shill:
Spreading buzz by heavily promoting a particular coin in the community to create awareness. Short position:
Selling of a specific cryptocurrency with an expectation that it will drop in value. Silk road:
The online marketplace where drugs and other illicit items were traded for Bitcoin. This marketplace is using accessed through “TOR”, and VPNs. In October 2013, a Silk Road was shut down in by the FBI. Smart Contract:
Certain computational benchmarks or barriers that have to be met in turn for money or data to be deposited or even be used to verify things such as land rights. Software Wallet:
A crypto wallet that exists purely as software files on a computer. Usually, software wallets can be generated for free from a variety of sources. Solidity:
A cryptocoin with an extremely low volatility that can be used to trade against the overall market. Staking:
Staking is the process of actively participating in transaction validation (similar to mining) on a proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchain. On these blockchains, anyone with a minimum-required balance of a specific cryptocurrency can validate transactions and earn Staking rewards. Surge:
When a crypto currency appreciates or goes up in price. Tank:
The opposite of mooning. When a coin tanks it can also be described as crashing. Tendies
For traders , the chief prize is “tendies” (chicken tenders, the treat an overgrown man-child receives for being a “Good Boy”) . Token:
A unit of value that represents a digital asset built on a blockchain system. A token is usually considered as a “coin” of a cryptocurrency, but it really has a wider functionality. TOR:
“The Onion Router” is a free web browser designed to protect users’ anonymity and resist censorship. Tor is usually used surfing the web anonymously and access sites on the “Darkweb”. Transaction fee:
An amount of money users are charged from their transaction when sending cryptocurrencies. Volatility:
A measure of fluctuations in the price of a financial instrument over time. High volatility in bitcoin is seen as risky since its shifting value discourages people from spending or accepting it. Wallet:
A file that stores all your private keys and communicates with the blockchain to perform transactions. It allows you to send and receive bitcoins securely as well as view your balance and transaction history. Whale:
An investor that holds a tremendous amount of cryptocurrency. Their extraordinary large holdings allow them to control prices and manipulate the market. Whitepaper:
A comprehensive report or guide made to understand an issue or help decision making. It is also seen as a technical write up that most cryptocurrencies provide to take a deep look into the structure and plan of the cryptocurrency/Blockchain project. Satoshi Nakamoto was the first to release a whitepaper on Bitcoin, titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” in late 2008.
And with that I finally complete my odyssey. I sincerely hope that this helped you and if you are new, I welcome you to crypto. If you read all of that I hope it increased, you in knowledge.
my final definition: Crypto-Family:
A collection of all the HODLers and crypto fanatics. A place where all people alike unite over a love for crypto.
We are all in this together as we pioneer the new world that is crypto currency. I wish you a great day and Happy HODLing.
feel free to comment words or terms that you feel should be included or about any errors I made.
Edit1:some fixes were made and added words.
Who cares about political tweets from some random country's president when payment channels are a much more interesting and are actually capable of carrying value?
So let's have a short history of various payment channel techs!
Generation 0: Satoshi's Broken nSequence Channels
Because Satoshi's Vision included payment channels, except his implementation sucked so hard we had to go fix it and added RBF as a by-product.
Originally, the plan for nSequence was that mempools would replace any transaction spending certain inputs with another transaction spending the same inputs, but only if the nSequence field of the replacement was larger.
Since 0xFFFFFFFF was the highest value that nSequence could get, this would mark a transaction as "final" and not replaceable on the mempool anymore.
In fact, this "nSequence channel" I will describe is the reason why we have this weird rule about nLockTime and nSequence. nLockTime actually only works if nSequence is not 0xFFFFFFFF i.e. final. If nSequence is 0xFFFFFFFF then nLockTime is ignored, because this if the "final" version of the transaction.
So what you'd do would be something like this:
- You go to a bar and promise the bartender to pay by the time the bar closes. Because this is the Bitcoin universe, time is measured in blockheight, so the closing time of the bar is indicated as some future blockheight.
- For your first drink, you'd make a transaction paying to the bartender for that drink, paying from some coins you have. The transaction has an nLockTime equal to the closing time of the bar, and a starting nSequence of 0. You hand over the transaction and the bartender hands you your drink.
- For your succeeding drink, you'd remake the same transaction, adding the payment for that drink to the transaction output that goes to the bartender (so that output keeps getting larger, by the amount of payment), and having an nSequence that is one higher than the previous one.
- Eventually you have to stop drinking. It comes down to one of two possibilities:
- You drink until the bar closes. Since it is now the nLockTime indicated in the transaction, the bartender is able to broadcast the latest transaction and tells the bouncers to kick you out of the bar.
- You wisely consider the state of your liver. So you re-sign the last transaction with a "final" nSequence of 0xFFFFFFFF i.e. the maximum possible value it can have. This allows the bartender to get his or her funds immediately (nLockTime is ignored if nSequence is 0xFFFFFFFF), so he or she tells the bouncers to let you out of the bar.
Now that of course is a payment channel. Individual payments (purchases of alcohol, so I guess buying coffee is not in scope for payment channels). Closing is done by creating a "final" transaction that is the sum of the individual payments. Sure there's no routing and channels are unidirectional and channels have a maximum lifetime but give Satoshi a break, he was also busy inventing Bitcoin at the time.
Now if you noticed I called this kind of payment channel "broken". This is because the mempool rules are not consensus rules, and cannot be validated (nothing
about the mempool can be validated onchain: I sigh every time somebody proposes "let's make block size dependent on mempool size", mempool state cannot be validated by onchain data). Fullnodes can't see all of the transactions you signed, and then validate that the final one with the maximum nSequence is the one that actually is used onchain. So you can do the below:
- Become friends with Jihan Wu, because he owns >51% of the mining hashrate (he totally reorged Bitcoin to reverse the Binance hack right?).
- Slip Jihan Wu some of the more interesting drinks you're ordering as an incentive to cooperate with you. So say you end up ordering 100 drinks, you split it with Jihan Wu and give him 50 of the drinks.
- When the bar closes, Jihan Wu quickly calls his mining rig and tells them to mine the version of your transaction with nSequence 0. You know, that first one where you pay for only one drink.
- Because fullnodes cannot validate nSequence, they'll accept even the nSequence=0 version and confirm it, immutably adding you paying for a single alcoholic drink to the blockchain.
- The bartender, pissed at being cheated, takes out a shotgun from under the bar and shoots at you and Jihan Wu.
- Jihan Wu uses his mystical chi powers (actually the combined exhaust from all of his mining rigs) to slow down the shotgun pellets, making them hit you as softly as petals drifting in the wind.
- The bartender mutters some words, clothes ripping apart as he or she (hard to believe it could be a she but hey) turns into a bear, ready to maul you for cheating him or her of the payment for all the 100 drinks you ordered from him or her.
- Steely-eyed, you stand in front of the bartender-turned-bear, daring him to touch you. You've watched Revenant, you know Leonardo di Caprio could survive a bear mauling, and if some posh actor can survive that, you know you can too. You make a pose. "Drunken troll logic attack!"
- I think I got sidetracked here.
- Bears are bad news.
- You can't reasonably invoke "Satoshi's Vision" and simultaneously reject the Lightning Network because it's not onchain. Satoshi's Vision included a half-assed implementation of payment channels with nSequence, where the onchain transaction represented multiple logical payments, exactly what modern offchain techniques do (except modern offchain techniques actually work). nSequence (the field, but not its modern meaning) has been in Bitcoin since BitCoin For Windows Alpha 0.1.0. And its original intent was payment channels. You can't get nearer to Satoshi's Vision than being a field that Satoshi personally added to transactions on the very first public release of the BitCoin software, like srsly.
- Miners can totally bypass mempool rules. In fact, the reason why nSequence has been repurposed to indicate "optional" replace-by-fee is because miners are already incentivized by the nSequence system to always follow replace-by-fee anyway. I mean, what do you think those drinks you passed to Jihan Wu are, other than the fee you pay him to mine a specific version of your transaction?
- Satoshi made mistakes. The original design for nSequence is one of them. Today, we no longer use nSequence in this way. So diverging from Satoshi's original design is part and parcel of Bitcoin development, because over time, we learn new lessons that Satoshi never knew about. Satoshi was an important landmark in this technology. He will not be the last, or most important, that we will remember in the future: he will only be the first.
Incentive-compatible time-limited unidirectional channel; or, Satoshi's Vision, Fixed (if transaction malleability hadn't been a problem, that is).
Now, we know the bartender will turn into a bear and maul you if you try to cheat the payment channel, and now that we've revealed you're good friends with Jihan Wu, the bartender will no longer accept a payment channel scheme that lets one you cooperate with a miner to cheat the bartender.
Fortunately, Jeremy Spilman proposed a better way that would not let you cheat the bartender.
First, you and the bartender perform this ritual:
- You get some funds and create a transaction that pays to a 2-of-2 multisig between you and the bartender. You don't broadcast this yet: you just sign it and get its txid.
- You create another transaction that spends the above transaction. This transaction (the "backoff") has an nLockTime equal to the closing time of the bar, plus one block. You sign it and give this backoff transaction (but not the above transaction) to the bartender.
- The bartender signs the backoff and gives it back to you. It is now valid since it's spending a 2-of-2 of you and the bartender, and both of you have signed the backoff transaction.
- Now you broadcast the first transaction onchain. You and the bartender wait for it to be deeply confirmed, then you can start ordering.
The above is probably vaguely familiar to LN users. It's the funding process of payment channels! The first transaction, the one that pays to a 2-of-2 multisig, is the funding transaction that backs the payment channel funds.
So now you start ordering in this way:
- For your first drink, you create a transaction spending the funding transaction output and sending the price of the drink to the bartender, with the rest returning to you.
- You sign the transaction and pass it to the bartender, who serves your first drink.
- For your succeeding drinks, you recreate the same transaction, adding the price of the new drink to the sum that goes to the bartender and reducing the money returned to you. You sign the transaction and give it to the bartender, who serves you your next drink.
- At the end:
- If the bar closing time is reached, the bartender signs the latest transaction, completing the needed 2-of-2 signatures and broadcasting this to the Bitcoin network. Since the backoff transaction is the closing time + 1, it can't get used at closing time.
- If you decide you want to leave early because your liver is crying, you just tell the bartender to go ahead and close the channel (which the bartender can do at any time by just signing and broadcasting the latest transaction: the bartender won't do that because he or she is hoping you'll stay and drink more).
- If you ended up just hanging around the bar and never ordering, then at closing time + 1 you broadcast the backoff transaction and get your funds back in full.
Now, even if you pass 50 drinks to Jihan Wu, you can't give him the first transaction (the one which pays for only one drink) and ask him to mine it: it's spending a 2-of-2 and the copy you have only contains your own signature. You need the bartender's signature to make it valid, but he or she sure as hell isn't going to cooperate in something that would lose him or her money, so a signature from the bartender validating old state where he or she gets paid less isn't going to happen.
So, problem solved, right? Right? Okay, let's try it. So you get your funds, put them in a funding tx, get the backoff tx, confirm the funding tx...
Once the funding transaction confirms deeply, the bartender laughs uproariously. He or she summons the bouncers, who surround you menacingly.
"I'm refusing service to you," the bartender says.
"Fine," you say. "I was leaving anyway;" You smirk. "I'll get back my money with the backoff transaction, and posting about your poor service on reddit so you get negative karma, so there!"
"Not so fast," the bartender says. His or her voice chills your bones. It looks like your exploitation of the Satoshi nSequence payment channel is still fresh in his or her mind. "Look at the txid of the funding transaction that got confirmed."
"What about it?" you ask nonchalantly, as you flip open your desktop computer and open a reputable blockchain explorer.
What you see shocks you.
"What the --- the txid is different! You--- you changed my signature
?? But how? I put the only copy of my private key in a sealed envelope in a cast-iron box inside a safe buried in the Gobi desert protected by a clan of nomads who have dedicated their lives and their childrens' lives to keeping my private key safe in perpetuity!"
"Didn't you know?" the bartender asks. "The components of the signature are just very large numbers. The sign of one of the signature components can be changed, from positive to negative, or negative to positive, and the signature will remain valid. Anyone can do that, even if they don't know the private key. But because Bitcoin includes the signatures in the transaction when it's generating the txid, this little change also changes the txid." He or she chuckles. "They say they'll fix it by sep
arating the sig
natures from the transaction body. They're saying that these kinds of signature malleability won't affect transaction ids anymore after they do this, but I bet I can get my good friend Jihan Wu to delay this 'SepSig' plan for a good while yet. Friendly guy, this Jihan Wu, it turns out all I had to do was slip him 51 drinks and he was willing to mine a tx with the signature signs flipped." His or her grin widens. "I'm afraid your backoff transaction won't work anymore, since it spends a txid that is not existent and will never be confirmed. So here's the deal. You pay me 99% of the funds in the funding transaction, in exchange for me signing the transaction that spends with the txid that you see onchain. Refuse, and you lose 100% of the funds and every other HODLer, including me, benefits from the reduction in coin supply. Accept, and you get to keep 1%. I lose nothing if you refuse, so I won't care if you do, but consider the difference of getting zilch vs. getting 1% of your funds." His or her eyes glow. "GENUFLECT RIGHT NOW."
- Payback's a bitch.
- Transaction malleability is a bitchier bitch. It's why we needed to fix the bug in SegWit. Sure, MtGox claimed they were attacked this way because someone kept messing with their transaction signatures and thus they lost track of where their funds went, but really, the bigger impetus for fixing transaction malleability was to support payment channels.
- Yes, including the signatures in the hash that ultimately defines the txid was a mistake. Satoshi made a lot of those. So we're just reiterating the lesson "Satoshi was not an infinite being of infinite wisdom" here. Satoshi just gets a pass because of how awesome Bitcoin is.
CLTV-protected Spilman Channels
Using CLTV for the backoff branch.
This variation is simply Spilman channels, but with the backoff transaction replaced with a backoff branch in the SCRIPT you pay to. It only became possible after OP_CHECKLOCKTIMEVERIFY (CLTV) was enabled in 2015.
Now as we saw in the Spilman Channels discussion, transaction malleability means that any pre-signed offchain transaction can easily be invalidated by flipping the sign of the signature of the funding transaction while the funding transaction is not yet confirmed.
This can be avoided by simply putting any special requirements into an explicit branch of the Bitcoin SCRIPT. Now, the backoff branch is supposed to create a maximum lifetime for the payment channel, and prior to the introduction of OP_CHECKLOCKTIMEVERIFY this could only be done by having a pre-signed nLockTime transaction.
With CLTV, however, we can now make the branches explicit in the SCRIPT that the funding transaction pays to.
Instead of paying to a 2-of-2 in order to set up the funding transaction, you pay to a SCRIPT which is basically "2-of-2, OR this singlesig after a specified lock time".
With this, there is no backoff transaction that is pre-signed and which refers to a specific txid. Instead, you can create the backoff transaction later, using whatever txid the funding transaction ends up being confirmed under. Since the funding transaction is immutable once confirmed, it is no longer possible to change the txid afterwards.
Todd Micropayment Networks
The old hub-spoke model (that isn't how LN today actually works).
One of the more direct predecessors of the Lightning Network was the hub-spoke model discussed by Peter Todd. In this model, instead of payers directly having channels to payees, payers and payees connect to a central hub server. This allows any payer to pay any payee, using the same channel for every payee on the hub. Similarly, this allows any payee to receive from any payer, using the same channel.
Remember from the above Spilman example? When you open a channel to the bartender, you have to wait around for the funding tx to confirm. This will take an hour at best
. Now consider that you have to make channels for everyone you want to pay to. That's not very scalable.
So the Todd hub-spoke model has a central "clearing house" that transport money from payers to payees. The "Moonbeam" project takes this model. Of course, this reveals to the hub who the payer and payee are, and thus the hub can potentially censor transactions. Generally, though, it was considered that a hub would more efficiently censor by just not maintaining a channel with the payer or payee that it wants to censor (since the money it owned in the channel would just be locked uselessly if the hub won't process payments to/from the censored user).
In any case, the ability of the central hub to monitor payments means that it can surveill the payer and payee, and then sell this private transactional data to third parties. This loss of privacy would be intolerable today.
Peter Todd also proposed that there might be multiple hubs that could transport funds to each other on behalf of their users, providing somewhat better privacy.
Another point of note is that at the time such networks were proposed, only unidirectional (Spilman) channels were available. Thus, while one could be a payer, or payee, you would have to use separate channels for your income versus for your spending. Worse, if you wanted to transfer money from your income channel to your spending channel, you had to close both and reshuffle the money between them, both onchain activities.
Poon-Dryja Lightning Network
Bidirectional two-participant channels.
The Poon-Dryja channel mechanism has two important properties:
- No time limit.
Both the original Satoshi and the two Spilman variants are unidirectional: there is a payer and a payee, and if the payee wants to do a refund, or wants to pay for a different service or product the payer is providing, then they can't use the same unidirectional channel.
The Poon-Dryjam mechanism allows channels, however, to be bidirectional instead: you are not a payer or a payee on the channel, you can receive or send at any time as long as both you and the channel counterparty are online.
Further, unlike either of the Spilman variants, there is no time limit for the lifetime of a channel. Instead, you can keep the channel open for as long as you want.
Both properties, together, form a very powerful scaling property
that I believe most people have not appreciated. With unidirectional channels, as mentioned before, if you both earn and spend over the same network of payment channels, you would have separate channels for earning and spending. You would then need to perform onchain operations to "reverse" the directions of your channels periodically. Secondly, since Spilman channels have a fixed lifetime, even if you never used either channel, you would have to periodically "refresh" it by closing it and reopening.
With bidirectional, indefinite-lifetime channels, you may instead open some channels when you first begin managing your own money, then close them only after your lawyers have executed your last will and testament on how the money in your channels get divided up to your heirs: that's just two onchain transactions in your entire lifetime. That is the potentially very powerful scaling property that bidirectional, indefinite-lifetime channels allow.
I won't discuss the transaction structure needed for Poon-Dryja bidirectional channels --- it's complicated and you can easily get explanations with cute graphics elsewhere.
a weakness of Poon-Dryja that people tend to gloss over (because it was fixed very well by RustyReddit
- You have to store all the revocation keys of a channel. This implies you are storing 1 revocation key for every channel update, so if you perform millions of updates over your entire lifetime, you'd be storing several megabytes of keys, for only a single channel. RustyReddit fixed this by requiring that the revocation keys be generated from a "Seed" revocation key, and every key is just the application of SHA256 on that key, repeatedly. For example, suppose I tell you that my first revocation key is SHA256(SHA256(seed)). You can store that in O(1) space. Then for the next revocation, I tell you SHA256(seed). From SHA256(key), you yourself can compute SHA256(SHA256(seed)) (i.e. the previous revocation key). So you can remember just the most recent revocation key, and from there you'd be able to compute every previous revocation key. When you start a channel, you perform SHA256 on your seed for several million times, then use the result as the first revocation key, removing one layer of SHA256 for every revocation key you need to generate. RustyReddit not only came up with this, but also suggested an efficient O(log n) storage structure, the shachain, so that you can quickly look up any revocation key in the past in case of a breach. People no longer really talk about this O(n) revocation storage problem anymore because it was solved very very well by this mechanism.
Another thing I want to emphasize is that while the Lightning Network paper and many of the earlier presentations developed from the old Peter Todd hub-and-spoke model, the modern Lightning Network takes the logical conclusion of removing a strict separation between "hubs" and "spokes". Any node on the Lightning Network can very well work as a hub for any other node. Thus, while you might operate as "mostly a payer", "mostly a forwarding node", "mostly a payee", you still end up being at least partially a forwarding node ("hub") on the network, at least part of the time. This greatly reduces the problems of privacy inherent in having only a few hub nodes: forwarding nodes cannot get significantly useful data from the payments passing through them, because the distance between the payer and the payee can be so large that it would be likely that the ultimate payer and the ultimate payee could be anyone on the Lightning Network.
- We can decentralize if we try hard enough!
- "Hubs bad" can be made "hubs good" if everybody is a hub.
- Smart people can solve problems. It's kinda why they're smart.
After LN, there's also the Decker-Wattenhofer Duplex Micropayment Channels (DMC). This post is long enough as-is, LOL. But for now, it uses a novel "decrementing nSequence channel", using the new
relative-timelock semantics of nSequence (not the broken one originally by Satoshi). It actually uses multiple such "decrementing nSequence" constructs, terminating in a pair of Spilman channels, one in both directions (thus "duplex"). Maybe I'll discuss it some other time.
The realization that channel constructions could actually hold more channel constructions inside them (the way the Decker-Wattenhofer puts a pair of Spilman channels inside a series of "decrementing nSequence channels") lead to the further thought behind Burchert-Decker-Wattenhofer channel factories. Basically, you could host multiple two-participant channel constructs inside a larger multiparticipant "channel" construct (i.e. host multiple channels inside a factory).
Further, we have the Decker-Russell-Osuntokun or "eltoo" construction. I'd argue that this is "nSequence done right". I'll write more about this later, because this post is long enough.
- Bitcoin offchain scaling is more powerful than you ever thought.
ASIC resistance seems to be something that crypto fans cheer. This may have something to do with the fact that they see Bitmain as a looming monopolistic threat that can produce enough hardware to 51% networks.
While this may be true to some extent, the solution to this problem seems to always be to simply fork them off. This, of course, never actually works.
Take for example Horizen (formerly Zencash). Horizen is a fork from Zclassic, which was a fork to remove the 20% founders fee from the block reward from Zcash, which was itself forked from Bitcoin.
Bitcoin -> Zcash -> Zclassic -> Horizen (Zencash)
Now, being a fork of Zcash, Horizen uses an equihash algo for mining. Other coins that use equihash include Bitcoin Gold, Komodo and, of course, Zcash.
The whole point of making equihash was to be an ASIC resistant algo. Well, guess what? In less than a year equihash ASICs were created.
The reason I bring up these coins is because Horizen and Bitcoin Gold both recently suffered 51% attacks on their respective networks. The attackers were able to rent more than 51% of each coins hash rate and used Nakamoto consensus rules to mine in secret, faster than the rest of the network. This allowed the attacker to deposit on binance, trade ZEN for BTC , withdraw, and after he received his BTC, add his blocks to the chain (longest chain rule) and double spending his ZEN making free BTC.
BTG and ZEN had different approaches to this problem.
BTG decided to go with a more "memory hard" equihash algo, which will stymie ASICs for a time, but they will likely be back, if the coins have a big enough market cap. https://bitcoingold.org/equihash-btg/
Horizen decided not to follow in BTG's footsteps. Their approach is to slightly alter Nakamoto consensus rules to disincentivize mining in secret. This, in my opinion, is a much more elegant and long term solution to the 51% problem.
GPU miners in the Horizen community claimed that the Horizen team's decision to not fork to ASIC resistance was giving into Bitmain. However, in the few months that ASIC miners have been mining equihash, two other companies, Innoscillicon and ASICminer (company name) developed more powerful equihash miners than Bitmain, although they were quite a bit more expensive. Add to this the fact that Samsung has been making ASIC chips for at least 6 months and it starts to become clear that Bitmain's monopoly will slowly be chipped away by the market. https://techcrunch.com/2018/01/31/samsung-confirms-asic-chips/
The point is, for most ASIC resistance advocates, it comes down to their concern for decentralization because of Bitmain's dominance. To this, I will direct you to the equihash saga as outlined above.
If you believe that Bitmain is as nefarious as some say they are, why do you think they are not above developing an ASIC miner for coins that are supposed to be ASIC resistant, test in secret, and then just unleash their hash on the network, rendering it completely useless? They could have done that with equihash, but they didn't, maybe mostly because they didn't think it was worth the pain to fabricate them all.
ASIC resistance is futile. GPU mining is a hobby for most, and they can resell the GPUs when they are finished. ASIC mining is the industrial version of mining chains need to be secure against attacks, by up to and including state actors.
For all these reasons (and more) I have come to the conclusion that forking to ASIC resistant algos is dangerous for the network because it artificially suppresses hash power (and opens the door to hostile takeovers), is temporary and essentially a subsidy to GPU miners. Disclaimer: I do not mine, but I am a secure node operator for Horizen.
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