Nexus, Tritium Protocol — A High-Level Summary

TL;DR — Nexus has released the white paper for the Tritium protocol, the first of three major releases towards unlocking the Nexus 3DC blockchain. The Tritium protocol will consist of a 7-layer software stack with layers released in multiple instalments. The first release will be the ‘Interface Layer’ which delivers the vastly improved and anticipated GUI wallet.

For those who have been following the progress of Nexus, you would be aware of the excitement surrounding the Tritium release — the first of three major instalments towards unlocking the Nexus 3DC blockchain. Last week, the Tritium protocol white paper was released and detailed the multifaceted software stack which will lay the major building blocks towards the Nexus vision of an on-chain scaling, quantum resistant, globally accessible, truly distributed and intuitive blockchain solution. This article will aim at providing a high-level summary of the technical white paper.

Before delving in, a few definitions (in the context of blockchain) for terms which will come up in this summary:

  • 3DC — the Nexus 3-dimensional chain.
  • API (Application Programming Interface) — a set of programming code which takes a request and returns a response from the blockchain. APIs provide developers a simple entry point to creating innovative blockchain applications.
  • Software Stack — the technology layers used to construct the blockchain architecture.
  • LISP — a routing architecture solution built for internet scaling.

The TAO framework (Tritium — Amine — Obsidian) is the Nexus roadmap to unlocking the 3DC blockchain. Tritium is the first portion of this framework and will consist of a 7-layer software stack.

Network Layer: existing blockchain networks propagate data through ‘Unicast Flood Networks’ where data must be processed and then relayed through all nodes within the network. This results in a significant increase to data propagation time as the blockchain network grows. Nexus addresses this issue by using ‘Multicast Locking Groups’ to increase data propagation speeds and reduce network bloat by processing and replicating data on the network layer, rather than the application layer. ‘Multicast Locking Groups’ evolve from single-threaded blockchain processing to parallel processing across multiple levels of the network.

A simplified way to think of this is by using a delivery service as an example. Lets say you had five locations (nodes) and you’re required to make a delivery to four of those locations. In a unicast flood network model, one car (data) would have to travel through every single location (node) to make the required deliveries.

However, under a multicast model, a dispatch network would use four cars to make the delivery to the four destinations simultaneously. This improves the delivery speed as well as reduce network traffic as only the relevant destinations will receive the packets.

One of the exciting Nexus collaborations also takes place on this layer, the LISP integration. The LISP protocol is an important solution which has been developed to help the internet scale. One of the LISP aspects which will be used within the tritium protocol is providing nodes their own unique network layer identity. This future proofs scalability issues with the growing expansion of the blockchain networks where multiple devices could be used to interact with the network. For more on the LISP partnership, please refer to this publication

Ledger Layer: this is essentially the blockchain layer. One of the major advancements the Tritium protocol brings is signature chains. This allows the user to access their data (e.g. balance) on the blockchain from any location/device using a username and password pairing which is further protected by a PIN, removing the requirement for a wallet.dat file. Signature chains will allow the user to establish a digital identity similar to the way we access our online banking, email etc. which is a significant step towards mass adoption through an improved user experience. Signature chains will also contribute to the improved security vision by introducing one-time use keys that are not revealed until used.

The Ledger layer also contains the reputation (trust) of a node which plays a major part in the Nexus PoS blueprint. Trust/Reputation take time to build and can be lost by misbehavior; therefore, the network is inherently more secure by providing higher incentives (mining rewards) to nodes with a higher reputation.

Register Layer: The register layer holds the state of a particular signature chain (digital ID) — the simplest example of this is your Nexus balance. One of the points to highlight within the Tritium Protocol is that Nexus smart contracts will be register based which allows smart contracts to be processed locally rather than on the network, reducing unnecessary strain on the network and contributing to a scalable solution. Looking at the Network and Register layer you can start noticing a pattern — the Nexus team has really taken a fresh perspective on blockchain design by reconsidering all the current shortcoming of existing distributed ledger technologies and building a protocol which ensures each layer addresses a different aspect of the blockchain, providing an efficient and scalable overall framework.

Operation Layer: this layer will contain standardised codes which will interact with the register layer. Some of the basic function include account crediting, debiting and permission/rights transfer.

API Layer: this layer will contain an intuitive set of APIs designed with simplicity and accessibility in mind. Nexus APIs will be programmable using any language preferred by the developer as opposed to current blockchain technologies which are limited to a specific Turing-complete language created for the specific blockchain (e.g. Solidity for Ethereum). This opens up accessibility to any developer and should fast track application development on the Nexus blockchain. The API sets will follow standards established through consultation with the relevant industries (i.e. finance, medical, copyright etc.) through a consultation process — this validates and expands the use of the Nexus blockchain across multiple industries as innovative use cases are discovered.

Logical Layer: this is the core application layer which allows developers to build applications on the Nexus framework. Similar to the API methodology, having pre-defined and open source applications allow developers a simpler point of entry as these can be shared and built upon within the developer community.

The illustration below shows a simple example of how the previous four layers may interact:

In this example, an application is used to transfer ownership of an asset. The application uses API-1 to request a ‘Debit’ from an account on the register layer and then a ‘Credit’ to the account of the current asset owner. Once the funds have been received, the application then initiates API-2 to perform a ‘transfer’ on the operation layer, transferring the ownership to the debited account on the register layer.

Interface Layer: this layer will deliver the highly anticipated Nexus GUI wallet which will provide an enhanced and intuitive user experience. One of the many great features includes separation of the wallet application from the blockchain daemon which enables software upgrades to be made seamlessly with minimal user interruptions. The wallet will also be modular in design, enabling developers to create customised modules for specific purposes. Demand for modules from end users will form a marketplace for developers who will be incentivised to create innovative customisations for the Nexus wallet. Check out the video below for a sneak peak into the upcoming Tritium wallet.

Final thoughts — the Tritium Protocol white paper reaffirms the research and efforts invested into the Nexus vision to provide a holistically designed ‘distributed ledger’ solution which transcends current blockchain technologies by addressing shortcomings in scalability, user experience, global adoption and security. With an ever growing team driven by innovation and backed by a committed community, there is every reason to be excited for the evolution of the Nexus framework, starting with — The Tritium Protocol.

Special thanks to Nexus Slack community members Shea and ScottSimon36 for their incredibly valuable technical contributions which helped shape this post.