One of our goals at the Digital Currency Initiative is to harden the security of cryptocurrency networks. Most users of cryptocurrency take the actual network protocol and all of its implementation — mining, pools, validation, messaging, and more — for granted, and aren’t necessarily aware of all the ways these mechanisms might be attacked or fail. For example, though mining pools are a huge part of Bitcoin’s network security, there isn’t any available public monitoring to make sure that mining pools are well-behaved. …

On May 19, 2018, MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative and Fidelity Labs and organized the Layer 2 Summit in Boston. During this event, two people from the DCI, Tadge Dryja (Research Scientist) and Gert-Jaap Glasbergen (Software Developer), gave a presentation and demonstration on Discreet Log Contracts. The paper on Discreet Log Contracts is written by Tadge Dryja and published in 2017.

In this blog post, we’ll try to further explain what Discreet Log Contracts are, how they work, and what the next steps are if you’re interested in leveraging this technology.

By creating a Discreet Log Contract, Alice and Bob can form a monetary contract redistributing their funds to each other, based on preset conditions, without revealing any details of those conditions to the blockchain. Alice and Bob both commit funds to the contract, but its appearance on the blockchain will be no different than an ordinary multi signature output. Therefore the contract is discreet in the sense that no external observer can learn its existence or details from the public ledger. …

Looking back on 2017, we can safely say that this has been the most turbulent year in the short history of blockchain and cryptocurrencies so far. Of course we’re still only at the beginning, but with the total market capitalization of the sector growing from $17B to over $600B, it has shown a tremendous growth in valuation.

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Total market capitalization of cryptocurrencies in 2017

It is those valuations, however, that I think are becoming more and more of a burden to the technological innovation.

Especially the last year alone, a lot of things happened in the landscape of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. New players and ideas are being tested left and right, hoping to solve the shortcomings of the existing proven blockchain technology that underlies Bitcoin. Whilst some are merely tuning some of the parameters to Bitcoins technology, but staying close to the fundamental principle of Bitcoins Proof-of-Work blockchain, others tend to look for completely new and innovative alternatives to it. …

A few weeks ago, Bitcoin Gold was announced to the world. To many novice Bitcoin users and investors, this seems like a repetition of what happened with Bitcoin Cash, essentially giving you “free coins”. However, some things are different this time around and it is important to fully understand what is going on to determine if you should be happy about it. In this article, I’ll try to explain how blockchain forks work, and what I evaluated about Bitcoin Gold as a specific example of why you should be careful.

Back to the basics: How do blockchains work?

In order to understand blockchain forks, it’s imperative to first understand a few basics about blockchains. There’s a lot of interesting resources to discover this, best of all the original Bitcoin whitepaper by Satoshi Nakamoto. But since the full whitepaper might be a bit overwhelming, I’ll try to cover the basics in this paragraph. …


Gert-Jaap Glasbergen

Self-Employed Blockchain Specialist — Freelance Developer at MIT DCI —

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