Dusk Network Development Update — November
The Road to Mainnet V1 edition
In this update we provide an extensive Mainnet and Development update. As some of our regular readers will notice, this is a longer development update post than usual — bear with us!
Yes! We are close to a Q4 2019 launch of the Dusk Network Mainnet! And while some of you know that we’ve been in Testnet V2 for quite some time now, we have waited with the release of the official update on this until the V2 results could be collected. Our main challenge was to ensure that the SBA consensus would tie in nicely with Dusk’s revolutionary privacy preserving transactional model. This is needed in order to propel the first of many XSC security token ecosystems we are going to launch to production.
Whenever such novelties are brought together, one must pay careful attention that the security remains intact, no new attack vectors are being created, and performance will remain acceptable. This was the declared aim for Testnet V2, making it arguably among the most important milestones of our roadmap. After carefully assessing months’ worth of execution, we can proudly confirm that our expectations have been met and even exceeded. Testnet V2 is running in a very stable fashion and even significantly improves on our former benchmarks.
User interfacing components
The time has come to confirm the consensus stable, and to turn our attention to the last, equally important, modules of our stack: the user interfacing components. Testnet remaining versions (V3 and V4) are sharply focused on refining and perfecting the user journey. Our goal is to appeal to a larger slice of our community, opening up the testing grounds to as many of you as possible, and achieve the perfect balance between decentralization, privacy and usability.
Those of you following our Github probably already noticed the unceasing stream of commits on Dusk’s wallet. Under the hood similar efforts have been driven on additional repositories that have so far been kept private, such as Dusk’s block explorer, the installers for the block generator and node, and a slick, standardized UI library which feeds the various interfaces used by the XSC stakeholders (asset issuers, auditors, traders, regulators, etc). It must be said that these efforts have been ongoing for quite a while and therefore the testing phase of V3 and V4 will be nowhere near as intensive or lengthy as V2.
Approaching the launch, a set of smart contracts representing partly issuance of assets, partly operation execution will be deployed on a sandboxed version of our mainnet, in accordance with what is already perceived as a good practice by Dutch regulators. Operating in what is perceived as a safe environment, albeit of production quality, has been pivotal in driving the adoption of a permissionless blockchain in the traditional financial world, where, before Dusk, only permissioned networks have been allowed to operate.
The sandbox is a great way forward to achieve integration with the initial adopting partners of Dusk Network, to introduce community participation in the form of permissionless block generation (and the final step before full network decentralization), and to rely on a controlled multi-stage period of opening up all of the features to the community. Think partner onboarding, release of block explorer & wallet, provide support with node setups, and token swap.
The road ahead
The road to Dusk Network launch is thus clearly paved. We have been working methodically towards a Q4 Mainnet V1 release stream in order to release a number of features not yet seen before in the cryptocurrency space, together with an entire backlog of incremental upgrades that will be rolled out gradually and expand the network’s performance and use cases. On the business side of the equation, the mainnet release now signifies the execution of the next phase of our commercial partnerships.
With the mainnet update out of the way, we’ll proceed with our standard framework for this series.
As some of our readers might have noticed, the release of the Dusk Network Testnet V2 was not officially communicated. The reason for this is that we are working to put in place more user-friendly tools before we reach out to a wider audience. Once that’s done, we will communicate with everyone. (As mentioned in the mainnet update above, think of an easy to understand wallet with expanded functionality and improved block explorer tool).
In the past weeks, Carlos Perez Baro (Blockchain Developer) completed the initial implementation of Kadcast, a new Kademlia-based peer-discovery and packet propagation protocol. Kadcast is created by researchers from the Technical University of Berlin. In most popular blockchain systems the network relies on unstructured broadcasting of messages (e.g. propagation of transactions and blocks going all directions). Due to this unstructured nature, at times it can prove very inefficient or even cause side effects for the consensus layer under intensive network load. Kadcast solves this issue. It is a very recent (2019) peer-to-peer protocol that is created to bring structure to the distribution of messages in a network. Our goal is to improve the efficiency of Dusk Network’s underlying peer-to-peer protocol with the addition of Kadcast and to engineer a provably stable version of Kadcast for the next iteration of Dusk Network, developed in close collaboration with and through the supervision of the very creator of the protocol, Elias Rohrer, from the University of Berlin.
Besides, we have been working on the implementation of an improved node catch-up procedure under the supervision of Jules de Smit (Blockchain Dev and Consensus Expert). This further stabilized the network during the phases of bootstrapping or falling back of a node. The process guarantees stability, even in case of bad internet connectivity or outdated hardware, resulting in a swifter and more robust synchronization to the latest consensus state. In short, the outcome of the effort is a drastic decrease of required synchronization time and, in turn, the avoidance of any possibility for a node to come to an unexpected halt.
Our latest addition, Jan Sulmont (VM engineer), has been assessing the viability of future integrations of Dusk Network’s VM with Parity Substrate. Parity Substrate and Polkadot are highly anticipated interoperability solutions that have the potential to work very well with Dusk Network, while adding a much needed privacy solution to the overall Parity/Polkadot ecosystem. Preliminary connection has been established by both companies to explore a pathway to a tight technical and business collaboration.
The architectural design of the Virtual Machine has gone through some exciting iterations in order to harness the full potential of zero-knowledge proofs and perfect the algorithms at our disposal.
Luke Pearson (Cryptographer) & Kevaundray Wedderburn (Blockchain Engineer and Cryptographic Researcher) are working on the first Rust-based implementation of PLONK. This new general-purpose, zero-knowledge proof scheme was announced very recently by Ariel Gabizon, Oana Ciobotaru, and Zac Williamson (with the latter closely in touch with Luke and Kev to advise on the progress). While improvements to general-purpose, zero-knowledge proof protocols have been coming for years, PLONK brings to the table a series of enhancements that will greatly increase both the usability and the performance of zero-knowledge proofs in general. Preliminary tests have shown that PLONK spectacularly outpaces Bulletproofs in every single benchmark. It is therefore our intention to adopt the technology in the next iterations of the Dusk Network architecture, in order to achieve unparalleled speed and scalability in producing/verifying confidential transactions and Dusk’s own breed of Confidential Security Contracts (XSC).
Speaking of which, together with our legal team and partners, we worked on refining and expanding XSC functionality to extend capabilities and include support to complex asset-issuance scenarios.
Dusk — Technology for Securities
Dusk Network is an open-source and privacy-oriented blockchain based on years of academic research. You can use Dusk Network to create smart contracts that control digital assets and securities.
Dusk Network Development Update — November was originally published in Dusk Network on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.