- In January 2018 the network single tennis 69 nodes. He’s over 5,000 today.
- Better design for the user, the anchorage of the channels and their resistance to DDos, great challenges.
One of the biggest challenges of Bitcoin is the scalability of its network, that ability to maintain the efficiency of its protocol even in the midst of the massive and global use of its Criptomoneda and its chain of blocks. Lightning Network (LN) has been devised and developed to offer a possible solution from the second layer of payment channels and bitcoins routing outside the main chain.
During 2018 the network Lightning network experienced an important expansion, not only in terms of the number of nodes, payment channels, and routing capacity but in development and applications using their characteristics that allow transactions with bitcoins in a way Immediate and low cost.
While the first whitepaper (or white paper) on Ln, written by Joseph Poon and Thaddeus Dryja, was published in 2016, LN’s main network was presented to the public in January 2018. Although, then, only the developers were using it, given its instability and the novelty of its operation. Then, Blockstream announced a small online store to purchase merchandise allusive to the brand by making payments using Bitcoins through LN.
At that time, Lightning Network was a small network, and developers were urging each other to enable nodes with low BTC amounts and pay channels with even smaller amounts, this to prevent the tests from leading users to have losses Important.
Only in March 2018, Lightning Labs, one of the three main development teams of this network, released a stable version of its own client, Lightning Daemon (NLD). At that time, although the technical requirements remained important, less technical users began to be added, leveraging the growth of the LN, which has not stopped.
Although the network was promoted and gained popularity for micropayments thanks to these low limits, it should be emphasized that its design does not definitively limit the capacity that will have to route payments, which could be significantly increased in the future.
There is currently a capacity limit of 0.16 BTC and payments of 0.04 BTC, but this feature is not definitive and can be modified with the definitive stabilization of the network.
When it was presented in partnership, Lightning Network had only two clients. There are currently up to 6 client versions to use the network. In addition to those of Lightning Labs-LN Daemon or NLD (written in Goland)-, Blockstream-known as C-Lightning (written in c)-and the version of Eclair (developed at Scala), we have three other clients, less popular but equally compatible with those already mentioned.
We are talking about lit, created in Goland by MIT; Lightning-Onion, also written in Goland but focused on privacy, using the Red Lightning via TOR and Ptarmigan, which is still in development but is being written in Goland.
These six versions are completely compatible with each other, due to the collaborative nature of the development of this technology. Remember that all LN development teams use the same base specification, which makes payment channels and nodes work together despite the different version.
In this way, the developers have been able to make more emphasis in a certain area of the product without their technical specifications making their versions unviable to each other, this in favor of the network and the increase of users and operators of nodes.
If you want to know the applications available in this network-from games to points of sale, passing by self-service pilots, among others-you can consult this special work on the applications presented during 2018, and its second part.
Nodes, channels, and routing capability
The numbers are important and the growth of the network is significant in terms of data. Thus, if we talked about 69 nodes in their first presentation to the public, today the network has a total of 5,536 public nodes. This number would have to add an unknown amount of private nodes, whose configuration limits the visibility of their channels in the LN browsers that exist.
The number of nodes is fundamental for the decentralization and strength of the network. In fact, it is important to note that, despite being a solution for the scalability of Bitcoin, Lightning Network has more nodes than popular cryptocurrency like Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash or XRP.
Lightning Network already has more than 20,000 channels of payment through which a total of 544.64 BTC can be routed, which amounts to a little more than 2 million of dollars with the current prices of the market.
The average capacity of these channels is 0.026 BTC, which is equivalent to almost 100 dollars per channel. It is estimated that each node of the network has about 15 channels of payment and with a capacity of 0.198 BTC, which translates to about 730 dollars.
Technical development and challenges
But, despite its exponential growth during 2018, the red Lightning still has many challenges ahead, especially in terms of the technical scope and its definitive expansion towards less technical users, with much friendlier user interfaces.
Thus, in addition to the modifications that should be given in the Bitcoin base protocol to deepen the bitcoin design (we talk, for example, of Eltoo and the need to add SIGHASH_NOINPUT to the Bitcoin scripts for implementation in LN), the development itself LN technician must evolve.
The main challenges of the network are the simplification of the interfaces and their construction on the basis of the users, but it is also critical the anchorage of the pay channels, the need for the users to be online, the simplification of the routing between Channels and their potential combination as well as the review scheme for updating your balance. These elements, although they have already been theorized, are still in full development.
Thus, the advent of lighter ST clients, such as Neutrino, the ultimate breakthrough of the Atomic multipath payments (AMP) or increased channel security and the operation of Ln are some of the important points on the development agenda.
Some researchers have even shown that, at the topological level, and especially in relation to the relationship between the nodes and the channels, there are still important problems, which could make the network potentially sensitive to a rational attack that collapses the network. Thus, in addition to nodes that concentrate the largest number of channels, the impotence against DDoS attacks and the possibility of collapsing the network are critical elements still to be solved.
A better understanding of network topology is essential to improving the robustness of complex systems, such as LN. The resistance of the networks depends on their topology. The high level representations of the LN topology convey a false sense of security and robustness.
István András beings
And is that, the better the Red Lightning works, the more robust its protocol the greater liquidity will attract, bringing to Bitcoin the possibility of fulfilling an old yearning: the realization of immediate transactions and with very low commissions.
In 2018, Andreas Brekken concentrated the greater routing capacity of Bitcoins de LN, in order to “promote itself”. The problem is that Brekken was self identify as an enemy and open Bitcoin critic, so, at the time, Brekken’s decision was interpreted as the portico of an attack on Lightning Network.
The network has been marked as centralized, especially by the way it is graphically represented, with important channel hubs, which could be critical points in this routing network.
These elements are warnings about the clearest challenges of the network, the key points to conquer during this 2019.
Remember that in 2017, at a meeting of developers, he ventured that in “18 months” the LN would be completely fit. Since then, the date became a sort of joke, to mock the slowness of its development.
However, as seen in 2018, 2019 may be a year of strengthening and deepening the network and its potential as a solution to the scalability of Bitcoin.