Each block in a cryptocurrency network contains a timestamp, its location in the blockchain, and fixed-length string of numbers and letters, called a “hash,” that’s basically the block’s identification. Each new block contains the hash of the previous block in the blockchain. Blocks in Vault also contain up to 10,000 transactions — or 10 megabytes of data — that must all be verified by users. The structure of the blockchain and, in particular, the chain of hashes, ensures that an adversary cannot hack the blocks without detection.
New users join cryptocurrency networks, or “bootstrap,” by downloading all past transaction data to ensure they’re secure and up to date. To join Bitcoin last year, for instance, a user would download 500,000 blocks totalling about 150 gigabytes. Users must also store all account balances to help verify new users and ensure users have enough funds to complete transactions. Storage requirements are becoming substantial, as Bitcoin expands beyond 22 million accounts.
The researchers built their system on top of a new cryptocurrency network called Algorand — invented by Silvio Micali, the Ford Professor of Engineering at MIT — that’s secure, decentralized, and more scalable than other cryptocurrencies.
MIT – www.mit.edu
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