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Issue #493: Erlay, a step towards an ideal?

May 29, 2019
Marty's Ƀent

Issue #493: Erlay, a step towards an ideal?

Here is a pleasant surprise that was dropped on the world a couple of days ago by Gleb Naumenko via the Bitcoin mailing list; Erlay, an efficient transaction relay protocol for Bitcoin. Co-authored by Gleb, Bryan Bishop, Pieter Wuille,  Greg Maxwell and two others; Erlay, if implemented, would materially reduce the bandwidth usage of Bitcoin full nodes. Making the network considerably more efficient from a node operator's perspective, and creating the potential for a more decentralized network as it would be possible to run full nodes in areas with sub-optimal Internet connectivity and on less powerful devices like tablets or cellphones.

In this rag, we harp on the idea of decentralization being an ideal that we strive for. Something that is achieved in gradual steps as the Bitcoin network extends its roots in meatspace via hardware, in the digital world via software, and in our minds via an idea. Erlay, if implemented, would be a big step towards this ideal. Just look at the performance enhancements that could be achieved:

As you can see, Erlay could severely reduce the amount of bandwidth needed to connect to other nodes when compared to the current transaction relay method. Currently, if you are connected to 32 nodes it would take 17.3GB of bandwidth per month to relay transactions via your node. With Erlay, this bandwidth burden would be reduced to 0.94GB per month. On top of this, announcement costs would be reduced from 4.33GB per month to 0.7GB. Talk about efficiency gains!

After reading through the white paper, it seems that the biggest trade-off will be with latency. We would get better bandwidth efficiencies for an increase of 2.6 seconds to relay unconfirmed transactions across the whole network; from 3.15s to 5.75s. The authors seem to think this is a reasonable tradeoff. What about you?

This is just a paper at this point. There is no BIP to implement this into the protocol yet. If it checks out to work as advertised, I think its a no brainer. So we will be following the developments of Erlay and keeping you abreast of the situation. Our solemn duty to you freaks.

Peep the paper for yourself here. The authors can explain this stuff much better than Uncle Marty can.

Final thought...

Huge fan of white shoes. Big hater of getting white shoes dirty.


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