Your daily distillation of crypto news for Tuesday, January 22, 2019:
Meet Your (Grand)daddy
Polkadot yesterday announced the launch of its Alexander testnet, the organization's third major proof of concept (PoC). The testnet implements the consensus algorithm GRANDPA (GHOST-based Recursive Ancestor Deriving Prefix Agreement), invented by Web3 Foundation research scientist Alistair Stewart. GRANDPA is the foundation's solution to asynchronous, accountably safe finality.
Polkadot asserts that "GRANDPA is the granddaddy of all consensus algorithms." It can reportedly finalize blocks "nearly instantly" under good network conditions, while under bad conditions, it can finalize millions of blocks simultaneously "when the partitions resolve." Further, the team maintains, "GRANDPA can finalize a new block regardless of how many blocks have passed since the last one was finalized."
Polkadot's most recent release will be followed by the organization's PoC for interchain communication, to be developed later this year.
EIP 1717: Difficulty Bomb No More
A new proposal spearheaded by Parity's Afri Schoedon, EIP 1717 seeks to delay the Ethereum difficulty bomb by "approximately 640 times the age of the universe" and reduce block rewards for miners with the forthcoming (and tentatively titled) Istanbul hard fork.
The difficulty bomb ostensibly incentivizes migration onto Ethereum's eventual proof-of-stake (PoS) system, as mining would be less profitable on the older, outdated proof-of-work (PoW) chain. However, Schoedon maintains that because a hybrid PoS-PoW chain is no longer being pursued (that is, there will be a separate "beacon chain" for the PoS upgrade), there is not a need to incentivize miners to move onto the new system.
Several community members are unsure about this proposal. Some have mentioned that without a difficulty bomb to encourage change, miners could simply forego the upgrade to PoS. Others have suggested that the difficulty bomb is useful not only because it incentivizes migration but also because it disincentivizes inaction, thus making it more difficult for miners to refuse to upgrade their nodes.
Ethereum Cat Herders, Y'all
Elsewhere in the ecosystem, a group called the Ethereum Cat Herders has assembled to assist with Ethereum project management. The group's "initial goal is to facilitate inter-team communication and to speed up the upgrade preparation process," thereby enabling more frequent network upgrades.
Cat Herders include Ethereum veterans like Hudson Jameson, Afri Schoedon, and Lane Rettig, but other notable members are MyCrypto's Taylor Monahan, Kristy-Leigh Minehan of ProgPoW fame, and Golem's María Paula Fernández (aka the Cher of Ethereum). The group can be reached via Gitter.