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MIT Researchers Develop New Digital Currency Requiring Less Data Storage




MIT wants to scale the blockchain.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a new type of cryptocurrency they claim will help solve scalability, according to a January 23 post in the MITNews Blog.

The new digital currency, dubbed Vault, aims to help solve blockchains' scalability problem by reducing the amount of data users need to store when first joining the platform and when validating transactions.

The researchers say their new crypto reduces "the bandwidth for joining its network by 99 percent compared to Bitcoin and 90 percent compared to Ethereum." They expect the platform to remain secure through the validation of partial transactions by all the nodes in the system.

New users are required to download and store "only a fraction of the total transaction data." When new users join the Vault platform, the maximum required download is a mere 1,000 blocks because of a new certification verification developed by the researchers. MITNews explains: "When a new user joins, they match the breadcrumb [verification information] of an early block to a breadcrumb 1,000 blocks ahead. That breadcrumb can be matched to another breadcrumb 1,000 blocks ahead, and so on."

The researchers say this method allows users to verify a new block using the information stored in a block a thousand blocks back, skipping all the extraneous information in between.

The Vault platform also uses proof of stake (PoS) to verify blocks, which helps reduce data storage and decreases the amount of time it takes for a system to verify blocks. This is done by selecting a "committee" that consists of participants with the most money or the most "stake" in the platform to verify different blocks.

Employing a "well-known data structure called a binary Merkle tree," the new system is able to implement "sharding," or the division of transactions into smaller parts, which are shared across the network. This method only requires participant to verify these portions, or "shards," of any given transaction. This cuts down on the amount of required data storage.

The MIT researchers have taken this method one step further by dividing the Merkle Tree into separate portions. This requires that participants only store "the balances of the accounts in its assigned shard, as well as root hashes."

Derek Leung, a graduate student in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), explained to MITNews, "Each shard of the network is responsible for storing a smaller slice of a big data structure, but this small slice allows users to verify transactions from all other parts of network."

MITNews also says that the new system will "recognize and discard" accounts that have been empty and inactive for long periods of time, which are typically kept and stored by participants on other crypto platforms.

Just a few days ago, researchers from the university announced the launch of a new cryptocurrency called Unit-e, which is also intended to help solve scalability. 

Nathan Graham

Nathan Graham lives in Sparks, Nevada, with his wife, Beth, and dog, Kyia. Nathan has a passion for new technology, grant writing, and short stories. He spends his time rafting the American River, playing video games, and writing.

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