Constellation Labs: Exclusive Video Interview By Erick Pinos
Happy Monday Everyone!
Today we have a very special edition of the blockchain brief where we interview Brendan Playford (CEO) and Ben Jorgenson (COO) of Constellation Labs.
Constellation Labs is building a horizontally scalable distributed operating system with smart contracts as microservices.
So what does that mean and why are we so excited about their project?
We have our Game Theory Group technologist in residence, Erick Pinos (President @MITBitcoinClub & Director of Operations @BlockchainEDU) break it down for you and ask a few technical questions in this weeks video interview. For those of you on the go, we've included an audio version of the interview at the bottom of this newsletter. This is one you do not want to miss.
Using Stars & Memes To Build A Better DAG
By Erick Pinos
We all know blockchains have a scaling problem. Every block has to be propagated throughout the entire network, and every full node in the network needs to keep a copy of every recorded transaction. Most blockchains have throughput requirements, like a capped 1MB block size. Without such throughput requirements, the blockchain would grow too fast, cutting off the ability for average users to run full nodes and thus leading to a centralization of validators that can control the state of the network.
Because of these throughput requirements, however, consumer grade distributed applications (dApps) are severely bottlenecked. Ethereum can only handle up to 15 transactions per second. Even the simple CryptoKitties game clogged up 11% of the Ethereum network.
Enter Constellation Labs, a “horizontally scalable distributed operating system”. This means that you can run intensive dApps on their platform with much higher throughput than traditional blockchains. According to their whitepaper, 1200 nodes in the network would yield 4000-4800 transactions per second. As the number of nodes increase, you also get more computing power while maintaining a trustless, distributing computing system.
There are three main components which together allow Constellation Labs to do this. There’s a lot of new terminology in this one, so bare with me as i break it down.
1. Proof-of-Meme Consensus Model
Proof of Meme is a new reputation-based consensus mechanism coined by Constellation Labs. A meme is a unit representing an imitable idea or behavior that be spread. In this case, it represents behavior that affects the likelihood that a specific node is selected to participate in consensus. Meme reputation is calculated by looking at logs of previous consensus performance. The reputation scoring takes into account whether the node has been notably faulty in the past, how much memory it can commit to consensus, etc. Reputable memes will be given preference, but new memes will have the opportunity to participate and build their reputation on the network.
With Proof-of-Meme, Constellation will have no network transaction fees. Instead, new tokens are minted every block and are rewarded to each node based on their meme’s reputation.
2. Asynchronous Peer-to-Peer Architecture
The Constellation protocol implements a blockchain architecture known as ExtendedTrustChain. In ExtendedTrustChain, there are multiple node types:
Stars. A star is the basic node that can send transactions and stores a local blockchain composed of its history on the network. Transactions are signed by the initiator and counterparty then broadcasted to the network via the gossip protocol.
In the gossip protocol, each member of the network keeps track of its neighbors and propagates messages received to all of its neighbors. This allows a large pool of connected devices to share the state of the network and achieve consensus without every node needing to store the entire blockchain.
Star Clusters are a collection of stars that participate in consensus on transactions and hash them into blocks. If a star wishes to participate in consensus, it joins a star cluster.
Galaxies are the validators. Galaxies calculate memes based on past consensus performance, and then update the meme reputation scores. They run validation process and host the current chain state. Metadata about Galaxy performance is stored in black holes. When a Star reaches enough positive reputation, they may earn the right to function as a Galaxy node.
Black Holes Black holes are blocks like the blockchain. Galaxies store the full history of every block, or “black hole” in the blockchain.
3. Smart Contracts as Microservices
In Constellation, smart contracts are microservices running on a JVM. Microservices are like smart contracts, but can run more complex logic because they use the Java virtual machine rather than the Ethereum virtual machine. They can send transactions, sign as a counterparty, and perform consensus. The goal is for microservices to act as a Star with their own meme/reputation, providing services for agreed upon amounts. Each microservice is a star, collections of microservices form an application, or a constellation.
That’s my breakdown of the project! In the near future I will be doing an exclusive interview with their CTO (Wyatt Meldman-Foch) for an even more technical deep dive. In the mean time watch or listen to our video interview with Constellation Labs (CEO+COO) to learn more about the team and their project.
Audio Interview Version: https://soundcloud.com/theblockchainbrief/founder-interview-constellation-labs
- Erick Pinos