Voice of the MANXers: Series #6
The sixth MANX Ask Me Anything (AMA) was held on October 3, 2018 and focused on MANX Development. It was conducted in the MANX telegram group.
This session was led by Dr. Jack Chiu (Head of Technology) and John Hua (Director, System Development), and moderated by Yawei Cui (co-founder), Olivia and Jennifer. This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Olivia: MANX recently released an updated roadmap that shows the delivery of major milestone much sooner. What is the rationale behind this aggressive update? Insanity?
Jack: Yes, it is insane if: 1. You only have a single team doing one thing at a time — but at MANX we have multiple teams working in parallel; 2. You don’t have any “deposits” in your “bank of development” — we have a great deal; 3. You don’t have capability and experience coordinating global development groups — we are particularly strong in this regard.
Yawei: Another question we received concerned the new schedule — specifically Phase one — Assemble MANX components. “This phase takes 10 months on the old roadmap, but only a couple in the new one. Can you please explain how this is possible?”
On the left is our original plan, on the right is our new updated one:
Jack: Since MANX is a loosely coupled architecture including cross-chain, post-quantum and state channel, components can be developed independently from each other. In addition, we will build one main chain and one sub-chain, and configure multiple templates to enable rapid development of DAPPs for SME.
In practice, we are divided into three research and development groups, responsible for main chain development, sub-chain development and the development environment:
The main chain development team is responsible for the transfer of MANX and other sub-chain passes.
The sub-chain development team is responsible for developing sub-chain smart contracts and application service systems.
The development environment design team is responsible for development guides and development of various templates.
Jennifer: From Github, it looks like MANX is relying on Tendermint. Is MANX built on an older public chain?
John: MANX is not built on any other public chain. Tendermint is a technical framework. We borrowed from the basic framework of Tendermint, and tested our development the Tendermint tool. We acknowledge our use of that framework on Github.
Our core goal is to facilitate the chain change of traditional enterprises. Where there are solid foundations available, we leverage them. We don’t innovate for innovation's sake. And we always acknowledge our debt to the amazing efforts of the larger community as we stand on their shoulders to reach further ahead.
Yawei: Question from a friend in Vietnam: Each party of a cross-chain protocol needs a deposit, which could be too complex, especially when conflicts happen, the deposit will not be released until the cross-chain action is finalized. Can you comment on this?
John: A deposit is the basis of a cross-chain smart contract, which is indispensable. Otherwise, the system cannot guarantee that participants will operate honestly and correctly.
When conflicts arise, public chains return to their initial state for cross-chain atomicity. The arbitration commission will then determine responsibility and punish bad or malicious actors according to the prior agreement. This process includes a timeout limit to guarantee the timely release of deposits.
MANXer: Will be some changes in your planned budget because of the changes in the development roadmap?
Yawei: Yes, details to come.
Yawei: Another question: The SPV protocol is not quite suitable for smart contracts, since the whole contract state tree is too complex to use a Merkle tree data structure. Can you comment on this?
John: SPV can be used in the account model that supports smart contracts. In Ethereum, there are Merkel transaction trees, Merkel receipt trees and Merkel status trees. In this same way we can not only implement SPV payment verification, but we can also quickly verify that the account exists and its status.
Olivia: How do side chains in MANX communicate? In other words, how would it work if a user needed to store data on two different side chains?
John: Each side chain in MANX runs independently, so anyone can store data on two or more different side chains. If two side chains need to coordinate with each other, there are two approaches:
When data is stored in side chains generated by MANX, the side chains can interact with each other by Simplified Payment Verification mode.
When data is stored in other public chains like ETH or BTC, they can interact with each other by a relay chain.
Jennifer: You talk about your post-quantum approach based on HASH functions and lattice ciphers. Can you comment on that?
Jack: Hash-functions and lattice ciphers are two classes of algorithms for post-quantum cryptography. At the same time, MANX seeks to deliver security, efficiency and low consumption. We are tracking advances from global research institutes including the US National Institute of Standards and Technology and EU SafeCrypto.
Jennifer: The oracle contract in the Status channel needs a trusted third party, which might be hard in a trustless scenario. How do you solve this?
Jack: In the status channel, we provide an oracle interface to connect various types of oracles from the community or other contributors, but there is a margin mechanism to ensure fairness and correctness. Each third party is required to make a MANX deposit to ensure the correctness of the data it provides. The margin covers the value transfer in the smart contract.
That is to say, when the correct data is received from the third-party oracle and the execution is completed, the third party obtains the compensation agreed in advance. And when the received data is wrong, the contract participant can verify and punish the third party through the arbitration committee.
Olivia: How are committee members selected, and how is the leader chosen in fast-mode?
John: In the original Thunderella protocol paper, the procedure for leader re-election policy is not specified. There are usually two approaches for committee re-election:
1. Have (possibly a random subset of) the recent stake-holders act as the committee;
2. Stake-holders express interest by putting down collateral. This collateral is frozen during the stake-holder’s term of appointment. Should there be evidence that a stake-holder misbehaved during the protocol, its collateral may be taken away as penalty.
MANX will choose the leader randomly from the top 20 collateral posting committee members.
Yawei: Can the pluggable encryption module be used under all circumstances, or only some?
Jack: The pluggable encryption module can be used under all circumstances that follow the encryption protocol.
Yawei: Can users using one encryption module interact with other encryption modules?
Jack: Users should interact with each other based on the same encryption module and protocol. Users can choose among several encryption modules provided by MANX.
Yawei: Will the asymmetric/symmetric cryptography be replaced by Hash functions and lattice ciphers? Or how will the latter be implemented so that MANX integrates post-quantum resistance?
Hash functions and lattice ciphers can be used to create signature and encryption schemes. These approaches avoid the essential reason why ECC and RSA are attacked by quantum computers and Shor’s quantum algorithm — hidden subset trapping gates. This provides effective post-quantum security for blockchain systems, replacing ECC asymmetric cryptography.
The main operation of lattice-based post-quantum cryptography is the addition and multiplication of matrices and vectors, so its efficiency is exponentially better than ECC and RSA.
Oliva: Can you discuss what underlies your confidence in the viability of the MANX architecture?
John: We have tested different pieces of the MANX architecture:
1) Turing-Complete multi-chain universal distributed business computing paradigm. We demonstrated feasibility and tested key relay smart contracts in the Ethereum test environment. Moreover, we create a controlled variable management contract to expand cross-chain asset transferring to cross-chain universal distributed services.
2) Post-Quantum security features. Advanced research is being performed about Post-Quantum cryptography (including academic papers) and some algorithms and code is already being tested.
3) All-state privacy protection mechanism based on multi-autonomous state channels. We demonstrated the feasibility and conducted important test steps of state channels in the Ethereum and Tendermint test environments.
All the work above has solved key problems and ensured the implementation of multi-autonomous state channels on MANX.
MANXer: I really like your new slogan: SLAS for SMEs. Could you please explain how you bring SLAS to the SMEs?
Yawei: SLAS stands for Security, Longevity, Accessibility and Scalability. SMEs are Small- to Medium-sized Enterprises (including individuals).
Jack: Here is more detail on how we will fulfill the promise of that slogan:
Security — We establish homo-cryptographic privacy protection and multi-autonomous state channels for privacy protection and support one-to-one and one-to-many data-directed sharing. We support current international cryptographic algorithm standards.
Longevity — We establish post-quantum cryptography that guarantees long-term security for the future years, especially in the commercial era of quantum computers.
Accessibility — We provide a user-friendly development interface, supporting major programming languages including Golang, Java, solidity, etc. And we support various rapid development industry templates designed by senior industry experts.
Scalability — We establish multi-chain, multi-contract, multi-variable cooperative adaptation and heterogeneous integration. Therefore, we not only achieve main chain-subchain interoperability, but we also link the main chain and outer chains.
MANX can realize on-chain scalability by a Turing-Complete multi-chain universal distributed business computing paradigm. MANX can also realize off-chain scalability by multi-autonomous state channels.
Jennifer: How are oracles implemented on the interface; how does MANX provide interoperability for oracles with their interface?
John: MANX defines a set of root contracts for specification and qualification of user-defined contracts, and the oracle interface root contract is one of the root contracts.
Any contract that wishes to call external data outside MANX must inherit the oracle interface root contract. The oracle interface root contract contains four parts:
1) Data that is obtained outside MANX;
2) Data provider accounts that pass data into MANX;
3) Data consumer accounts that call the data in MANX;
4) Rules such as the data provider’s reward and punishment mechanisms, margin mechanisms, etc.
Because oracles support a variety of different mechanisms, we don’t care about the specific way data providers get data from outside and we just create oracle interface root contracts to connect various types of oracles.
Jennifer: How many tokens are needed to run nodes?
Yawei: We don’t have specifics yet for rewarding nodes. Just so you know, in MANX, nodes can play a number of roles, including user nodes, monitoring nodes, execution nodes, etc.
Olivia: A few investors asked about how MANX supports cross chains activities?
Jack: Variables on different chains are mapped on the relay chain. The variables before and after mapping are called the original image and the mirror image respectively.
The relay smart contract is established on the relay chain based on all images. The relay chain achieves interoperability with the public chain through the monitoring node and execution node.
The input of the relaying contract is provided by the node monitoring the original image, and the output of the relaying contract is implemented by the execution node to the original image. At the same time, the relay chain SPV arbitration mechanism is adopted to standardize the legitimacy of the above-mentioned node behavior.
MANXer: MANX Cross Chain Technology is a great idea, but it seems very hard to execute. Your comments?
Jack: MANX uses a loosely coupled mechanism to implement cross-chain smart contracts, so it is straightforward for developers and more universal for users. There are only two main components — the variable mirror map and the relay chain contract.
Olivia: Several people wondered about the trade-off between speed and scalability versus decentralization, how is the team planning to solve this problem?
John: Transactions that concern token transfers run on the main chain. Business transactions run on subchains based on different consensus mechanisms and nodes with high speed. In this way, the main chain controls subchains that allow for effective decentralization.
Jennifer: I got a question regarding the implementation of lattice cipher: most people do not know the difference between lattice and ECC/RSA, can you explain?
John: Modern cryptography is based on the theory of computational complexity. For example, the security of RSA and ECC public key cryptosystems are based on the assertion that large integer factorization and discrete logarithm are NP-hard problems to solve.
However, Shor’s algorithm shows that large integer factorization and discrete logarithm problems are solvable problems in a quantum Turing machine environment.
Olivia: Another question: “How does the authorization mechanism in the controllable variable management system work?”
John: We connect the subchains through the relay chain to realize cross-chain smart contract. It means that variables in multiple subchains should work together. So on each subchain the variable controller should create a management contract to manage read and write permissions for variables in the function contract.
MANXer: Can you summarize MANX’s uniqueness versus others? Technical advantages or an overall “elevator pitch?”
Yawei: Allow me to summarize the main MANX tech advantages:
1) MANX implements a Turing-Complete multi-chain universal distributed business computing paradigm and provides multi-chain, multi-contract, multi-variable cooperative adaptation and heterogeneous integration;
2) MANX provides efficient digital signature encryption with post-quantum security features, that can accelerate the transaction signature speed hundreds of times over existing blockchain systems;
3) MANX has an innovative all-state privacy protection mechanism based on multi-autonomous state channels and a privacy protection mechanism based on homomorphic encryption;
4) MANX achieves a closed-loop token economy system of value aggregation through next-generation networks and an involved and supportive worldwide community.
Jack: While others consider assets cross-chain, MANX will provide cross-chain interaction and information aggregation of multi-chain non-asset universal business.
MANX is designing a signature method that improves signature efficiency by hundreds of times and is resistant to post-quantum computing.
MANX keeps ontology data private from the main chain through a multi-party autonomous state channel.
Other groups support only a single or proprietary programming language for smart contracts; MANX is opening smart contracts to many development languages.
MANX is developing a unique process that balances security and scalability with a two-layer protocol that addresses the security of the underlying ledger and the scalability of upper applications.
MANX is decoupling traditional blockchain technology at the technical level, providing a one-stop development platform and templates for SMEs, regulators, application developers and underlying platform contributors.
Yawei: Thanks everyone, especially Jack and John!!! You have produced some truly brilliant answers. We will stage another AMA on the convergence of blockchain and artificial intelligence next week, featuring our Head of AI. Please join us then!
MANX (MacroChain Computing and Networking System) is a distributed service platform that supports post-quantum cryptography and high-performance multi-chain cooperation, while facilitating the value-aggregated closed-loop token economy. The goal of the MANX project is to establish a blockchain ecosystem for small-medium enterprises and individuals based on third-generation public chain architecture, allowing applications to be developed with ease. To learn more about MANX, please visit https://www.manx.network/. Follow us on telegram: https://t.me/macrochain. Subscribe to our official announcement channel: https://t.me/manxannouncements
P.S. Another meaningful partnership was announced before the 6th AMA: