IOTA have opened the window to $5 million in grants for developers and researchers who can contribute to their Coordicide project which involves the elimination of the centralised co-ordinating node, currently run by the IOTA Foundation, from their Tangle distributed ledger technology.
— IOTA (@iotatoken) August 9, 2019
The removal of the node has long been seen as necessary because the centralised nature means it could unilaterally prioritise transactions or freeze funds and even be viewed as a potential single point of failure.
Untying the Gordian Knot
IOTA is not reliant upon a blockchain-based architecture as most networks in the cryptocurrency arena but instead utilises a Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG) whose properties resemble a web or tangle formation rather than a chain.
While DAG does promise high scalability it is problematic in the centralised nature and security vulnerabilities it encompasses, hence the need to ‘kill off’ the co-ordinating node through Coordicide.
Grants, both large and small, are on offer for any aspect that moves the project along but IOTA believe their own “…research team has all the key ingredients for an efficient and secure solution for Coordicide… [and]… Now, the remaining research topics are about optimising this solution.”
As a result, they have suggested a number of topics that are most likely to receive funding and which clearly illustrate the scale of the challenge involved:
- Proof of Work alternatives for spam prevention in the Tangle (e.g., Verifiable delay functions or Admission control strategies)
- Optimisation of the networking layer to avoid network congestion
- Reputation system based on node behaviour
- Analysis of the tip selection algorithm (TSA)
- Theoretical behaviour of cellular automata based consensus (for resolving conflicts voting using ‘majority rule’)
- Theoretical properties of query-based voting schemes (e.g., Fast Probabilistic Consensus – FPC)
- Efficient algorithms for time-stamping of transactions
- Scaling through trustless partial Tangle validation
- Attacks on the IOTA protocol
- Efficient decentralised random number generators
No timeline has yet been provided for the awarding of the grants but IOTA believe the modular nature of the Coordicide project will allow the core team to work on the “…initial node implementation while outside contributors move ahead with further optimisations” meaning the foundation can “…introduce optimisations if and when they are ready.”