Overcoming The Challenges of Developing A Truly Multichain Oracle Network 

The presentation below is by Tomas Ruiz, Tech Lead at Witnet. He presented Witnet as a way of overcoming the challenges of developing a truly multi-chain oracle network.

Below is a glossary of key concepts mentioned during Tomas’s talk, intended as a supplement to his video presentation.

Witnet is a protocol that connects smart contracts to the internet, allowing real-world information to be queried. It uses a distributed number of nodes – witnesses – who retrieve web data as responses to queries. The witnesses earn incentives when their information is correct and honest but will be slashed if otherwise. The simplicity of the protocol makes it inexpensive, and computation is faster. The protocol can retrieve data such as stock prices, weather forecasts, sports updates etc. from the internet. The Witnet oracle uses high-level cryptography plus economic techniques to feed contracts with important data. 

A Layer-2 is a network that is built on top of the primary blockchain, or Layer-1, and functions to increase that blockchain’s scalability and efficiency. The primary blockchain, or Layer 1, typically refers to the main blockchain network where transactions are settled and recorded in a secure and decentralised manner. However, as the demand for blockchain services increases, issues such as slow transaction processing times and high fees can arise.

Layer 2 solutions aim to address these challenges by moving some of the transaction processing off the main blockchain, conducting certain operations in a more efficient manner. This is achieved by creating a secondary layer that operates “on top” of the main blockchain. Examples of layer-2 solutions include Optimism, Arbitrum and Starknet.

A parachain, short for “parallel chain,” is a concept in the context of blockchain technology, particularly associated with the Polkadot network. Polkadot is a multi-chain blockchain platform designed to facilitate interoperability between different blockchains. Parachains are one of the key components of the Polkadot ecosystem.

In the Polkadot network, the main chain is called the Relay Chain, and it is responsible for coordinating and securing the entire network. Parachains are additional blockchains that run in parallel to the Relay Chain. Each parachain operates independently, with its own set of rules and governance. Parachains are connected to the Relay Chain through a mechanism called a relay bridge.

The benefit of using parachains in the Polkadot network is that they can specialise in specific use cases, providing greater flexibility and scalability. Parachains can have their own consensus mechanisms, tokenomics, and governance structures, enabling developers to tailor them for specific applications. The interoperability provided by the Polkadot network allows different parachains to communicate and share information with each other.

This architecture aims to address some of the scalability and interoperability challenges faced by traditional blockchain networks by enabling a more modular and interconnected approach to blockchain development. Other blockchain platforms, such as Kusama, have also adopted a similar parachain concept inspired by Polkadot.

Substrate is an open-source blockchain development framework for developers to create custom blockchains and dApps with specific functionalities.

Substrate’s customisability includes defining consensus mechanisms, block validation, governance mechanisms and economic models, making it adaptable to a wide range of blockchain applications. Additionally, its emphasis on interoperability, on-chain upgradability, and security features, including leveraging the Rust programming language, contribute to its robust foundation for building interoperable and scalable blockchain applications.

Substrate is often associated with the Polkadot ecosystem, as it serves as the framework for developing parachains (parallel blockchains) that can connect to the Polkadot Relay Chain. However, Substrate can also be used independently for creating standalone blockchains.

“EVM compatible” refers to compatibility with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), a crucial component of the Ethereum blockchain. The EVM is a runtime environment for executing smart contracts on the Ethereum network. When a blockchain or platform is described as EVM compatible, it means that it can run the same smart contracts that are written in Ethereum’s native programming language, Solidity, and deployed on the Ethereum blockchain.

Being EVM compatible is significant because it allows developers to port or deploy their existing Ethereum smart contracts onto the compatible blockchain without significant modifications. This interoperability facilitates the adoption of DApps and smart contracts across different blockchain networks. Platforms that are EVM compatible often attract developers and projects from the Ethereum ecosystem, promoting a degree of standardisation and compatibility within the broader blockchain space.

Learn more about Witnet here:
Witnet Website
Witnet Twitter
Witnet Documentation
Tomas Ruiz Twitter

Blockchain Oracle Summit (BOS) is an annual conference where blockchain enthusiasts gather to discuss the relevance of oracles as well as their challenges. Experts and seasoned developers gather to share their development and use of oracle solutions. Article by Michael Abiodun.

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