Tuesday, August 14

J.P. Morgan chief admits blockchain “is real”, start-up Zilliqa is already scaling it

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The highest profile decrier of blockchain just caved: JP Morgan chief Jamie Dimon said he regretted calling bitcoin a fraud, admitting that blockchain “is real”, according to the WSJ.

But there’s still a catch when it comes to scalability, a particularly pressing problem for finance and exactly what Singapore-based start-up Zilliqa is tackling: speed of transaction execution.

The firm’s aim is to provide a platform to run highly scalable computations in a multitude of fields such as data mining, machine learning, and financial modelling.

It’s backed by partners such as FBG Capital and Global Brain, and an anchor application is being developed with advertising firm MindShare to solve issues such as ad fraud, inappropriate ad placement, and ensuring quality ad delivery objectively, for examples.

 

Read: Zilliqa and FBG Capital partnership is collision of machine learning and blockchain technologies at scale

 

How the platform is used

One way to participate is to develop and run applications on Zilliqa, another is to run some nodes to support the platform (aka mining), and a third way is to interact with the platform’s running applications.

Zilliqa CEO Xinshu Dong’s background is actually in the field of cybersecurity, and he previously worked at a research centre set up by the University of Illinois on securing software that controls large-scale systems, such as Internet of Things and smart grids.

He then went on to develop private blockchains, but quickly became interested in the benefits of being public.

“It seems like the technology we have is born for a big network and to have a big network you have to be public and open up,” he told MarketBrains. “We have very high throughput that means we can process many transactions every second, but more importantly, as the network becomes bigger, we can even process more transactions per second,” he said.

The New Year brought the public code release of Zilliqa v0.1, which exhausted all of AWS Singapore’s available server resources for a particular category when running a testnet.

The mainnet is expected to go-live later this year.

Scale and speed for auctions

The fundamental research the company’s technology is built on is “sharding”, and for a great description, read their whitepaper. 

One of the use cases Zilliqa is looking at closely is running a multi-item auction, explained Dong.

“When there are many assets being auctioned and many requests coming, you may not be able to handle that flood. There’s a lot of computation being required here, so if we have Zilliqa’s computational sharding, we allow you to make sure that this piece of critical computation is done very properly because many people have double checked things like that,” he explained.

But different use cases mean different computational budgets: “Let’s imagine you are just experimenting with some learning algorithm on some training data, then maybe it’s not that critical to run it over many redundant nodes,” Dong noted.

Another benefit is that being distributed means there’s no need for trusting any central party.

“By nature, we can tolerate people who are doing bad things, and we guarantee that as long as such bad people are not too many, everybody will be OK. These are the some of the unique benefits of using a blockchain to do auction,” he said.

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