This article was first published on Dr. Craig Wright’s blog, and we republished with permission from the author.

[This blog post has been published by Dr. Craig Wright’s editor on behalf of Dr. Wright.]

The papers analyzed here offer a varied perspective on blockchain technology, supply-chain resilience, and innovative idea propagation in multi-agent networks. Each contributes to its respective field while inviting further scrutiny and exploration.

Chawla et al. (2019) proposed ‘Velocity,’ a new protocol to improve block propagation in blockchain networks through rateless erasure coding. Their idea emerges from recognizing block propagation as a vital factor influencing blockchain performance and scalability. Yet, their assumption of blockchain networks as vast, mesh-based systems is a critical point of contention. It contradicts the operational realities of networks like Bitcoin, which operate more as small-world networks where most nodes are interconnected, reducing the hops necessary for block propagation. Thus, while the ‘Velocity’ protocol presents an academic progression, its practical relevance may be limited because of the disparity in network structure assumptions.

Stoykovet et al. (2017) similarly ventured into blockchain network simulations with their tool VIBES. Designed for large-scale P2P networks, VIBES aspires to overcome the computational limitations that traditional simulators grapple with. Yet, like Chawla et al. (2019), the VIBES model assumes a mesh network structure, diverging from the small-world configuration of real-world blockchain networks. Moreover, the utility of VIBES in effective and accurate blockchain simulation could be compromised because of its failure to accurately represent actual network dynamics.

In contrast, Tian et al. (2021) pivoted from blockchain technology to investigate supply-chain resilience. They introduced a dynamic model that accounted for enterprise exit and reselection, a common disruption in supply chains. The model, embracing the real-world dynamics of supply chains, provides insights into the effects of such disruptions and emphasizes proactive management strategies for resilience. Yet, exploring how this model can be integrated with technologies like blockchain in more depth, which are increasingly being applied to enhance supply-chain transparency and efficiency, would be more beneficial.

Finally, Shekfeh and Minai (2021) provided a fresh perspective on the propagation of innovative ideas within a multi-agent network model. Based on implicit learning and cognitive diversity, their model presents a compelling framework for understanding how novel ideas emerge and spread. Yet, the authors could delve deeper into how modern technologies like AI and blockchain could influence this process, a topic that remains relatively unexplored.

Annotated Bibliography

Chawla, N., Behrens, H. W., Tapp, D., Boscovic, D., & Candan, K. S. (2019). Velocity: Scalability Improvements in Block Propagation Through Rateless Erasure Coding. 2019 IEEE International Conference on Blockchain and Cryptocurrency (ICBC), 447–454. https://doi.org/10.1109/BLOC.2019.8751427

Chawla et al. (2019) present a flawed approach to enhancing blockchain scalability via rateless erasure coding. By critically examining the work, it becomes evident that some assumptions made in the study may not align entirely with the actuality of existing blockchain networks.

Firstly, the proposed Velocity protocol, which employs rateless erasure coding to minimize data transmission, is designed around the presumption that blockchain networks comprise thousands of nodes. Although this idea sounds impressive, it does not reflect the reality of blockchain networks like Bitcoin and others, which have far fewer nodes in operation. Thus, the argument that a few nodes can potentially create and propagate blocks effectively contradicts the vast-node-network assumption underpinning their research.

Further, Chawla et al. (2019) seem to depict Bitcoin and similar networks as mesh-based systems involving multiple hops for block propagation. This interpretation can be misleading as it neglects the ‘small-world’ nature of these networks, where most nodes are interconnected, reducing the number of hops necessary for block propagation. Blockchains function more as small-world networks, emphasizing direct peer-to-peer interaction.

Finally, as presented in the paper, the concept of Velocity creates a system that, although it operates under the name of blockchain, bears little resemblance to blockchain architectures. Chawla et al. (2019) have an approach which diverges from the fundamental principles and operations of blockchain systems. While the initiative to enhance blockchain scalability is commendable, it’s crucial to ensure the proposed solutions align with the practical, operational realities of existing blockchain networks for the solutions to be effectively implemented and genuinely beneficial.

Shankar, R. K., & Clausen, T. H. (2020). Scale quickly or fail fast: An inductive study of acceleration. Technovation98, 102174. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.technovation.2020.102174

Shankar and Clausen (2020) examine the critical importance of rapid scaling in today’s fast-paced business environment. Not directly related to blockchain, this concept integrates with the business idea of building scalable use cases, and any industry, including blockchain, must do this to survive.

The study is based on inductive reasoning, allowing the authors to draw generalized conclusions from specific business growth and acceleration observations. This method allows for understanding complex phenomena that are not easily quantifiable.

Shankar and Clausen (2020) propose that businesses must either scale rapidly or fail fast in the current competitive landscape. The former is an essential strategy to seize market opportunities and ward off competition, while the latter results from slow adaptation and scalability in a fast-paced market.

Shankar and Clausen (2020) meticulously analyze cases of various businesses and their growth strategies to validate their proposition. They underscore the role of innovation, technology, operational efficiency, and adaptive business models in rapid scaling. The study also reveals that organizations that do not scale swiftly face the risk of quick failure, primarily due to a lack of competitiveness, inability to meet customer demands, or even becoming obsolete due to technological advancements.

Furthermore, Shankar and Clausen (2020) suggest that the “scale quickly or fail fast” phenomenon isn’t just limited to startups or technology firms. They argue that it is pervasive across all business sectors, highlighting the universal importance of agility and scalability in business operations. Hence, while not the original focus of this week’s research, the paper has been included as it has merit.

In conclusion, the authors’ research emphasizes the significance of rapid scalability as a make-or-break factor for modern businesses, encouraging organizations to adapt swiftly to market changes and scale operations to thrive in the competitive landscape. The study serves as a stern reminder that businesses that do not adapt and scale promptly face a high risk of fast failure.

Shekfeh, M., & Minai, A. A. (2021). Emergence and Diffusion of Novel Associative Ideas in a Multi-Agent Network Model of Implicit Learning. In S. Doboli, J. B. Kenworthy, A. A. Minai, & P. B. Paulus (Eds.), Creativity and Innovation: Cognitive, Social, and Computational Approaches (pp. 229–264). Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-77198-0_9

Shekfeh and Minai (2021) propose a multi-agent network model to study the creation and diffusion of innovative ideas. This study is part of the book “Creativity and Innovation: Cognitive, Social, and Computational Approaches,” edited by Doboli, Kenworthy, Minai, and Paulus. Their research concentrates on implicit learning, a subconscious process in which individuals absorb patterns from their environment and generate novel ideas. This process is simulated in a network of agents who share and generate ideas based on their implicit learning and cognitive abilities.

In addition, the authors highlight the importance of cognitive diversity within the network, showcasing how individual cognitive structures contribute to the birth of unique associative ideas. They further analyze the dissemination of these ideas within the agent network, influenced by factors such as the cognitive receptivity of agents, idea novelty, and social network structure. The study underscores that specific network configurations combined with cognitive diversity can expedite the spread of innovative ideas.

Overall, Shekfeh and Minai (2021) offer a study that provides deep insights into the cognitive and social processes that lead to the genesis and diffusion of novel ideas, thereby contributing to creativity and innovation studies. However, this topic presents limited ideas related to the scaling of Bitcoin or blockchain.

Stoykov, L., Zhang, K., & Jacobsen, H.-A. (2017). VIBES: Fast blockchain simulations for large-scale peer-to-peer networks: demo. Proceedings of the 18th ACM/IFIP/USENIX Middleware Conference: Posters and Demos, 19–20. https://doi.org/10.1145/3155016.3155020

Stoykov et al. (2017) present a simulation tool named VIBES. The tool is designed to conduct fast blockchain simulations in large-scale peer-to-peer (P2P) networks. VIBES was created to simulate and analyze blockchain behaviour within large P2P networks. Due to heavy computational requirements, traditional simulation tools often encounter difficulties with such vast-scale systems. VIBES aims to bypass these limitations by simulating crucial events, such as block creation and propagation while disregarding less significant ones.

However, a critical assessment of VIBES highlights a significant limitation: the assumption that blockchain systems operate as a mesh network rather than a small-world system, more representative of real-world scenarios. The actual blockchain networks, such as Bitcoin, operate as a small-world network where most nodes are a few steps away from each other rather than a mesh network where data must traverse numerous hops to reach its destination.

This difference means that while VIBES might simulate operations swiftly, it may not effectively simulate real-world blockchain system dynamics. Thus, the accuracy of its simulations could be questioned when applied to actual network scenarios. However, with some modifications, the VIBES simulation tool could have applications in examining select aspects of block propagation. Specifically, it could be potentially useful in modeling sharded propagation of blocks, where fast simulation and scalability are significant.

Tian, Y., Shi, Y., Shi, X., Li, M., & Zhang, M. (2021). Research on Supply Chain Network Resilience Considering the Exit and Reselection of Enterprises. IEEE Access9, 91265–91281. https://doi.org/10.1109/ACCESS.2021.3090332

Tian et al. (2021) explore the resilience of supply chain networks in the face of enterprise exit and reselection. The authors acknowledge that supply chain networks are vulnerable to disruptions, such as the exit of a firm, which could destabilize the network. They propose a new dynamic model that considers both the exit of enterprises from the network and the subsequent reselection process to replace the exited enterprises.

The model is intended to reflect the real-world dynamics of supply chains more accurately and to help stakeholders understand the effects of these disruptions on the overall resilience of the supply chain network. The model accounts for various factors, including enterprise capacity, demand fluctuations, and the time and cost associated with the exit and reselection processes.

Through their research, Tian et al. (2021) provide valuable insights into how supply chain networks can maintain operational continuity in the face of disruptions. They demonstrate that strategic enterprise reselection following an exit can bolster network resilience, minimizing the potential negative impacts on supply chain performance. While not directly focused on the issue of blockchain scalability, these issues are mentioned within the paper, and there are useful insights in analyzing real-world networks.

In conclusion, this paper sheds light on the importance of proactive management strategies in maintaining the resilience of supply chain networks, particularly in the context of enterprise exit and reselection.

Yang, L., Gilad, Y., & Alizadeh, M. (2022). Coded Transaction Broadcasting for High-throughput Blockchains (arXiv:2205.01797). arXiv. https://doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.2205.01797

Yang et al. (2022) present a new approach to improving transaction broadcasting in blockchain systems. However, the claim that blockchain-based networks do not “forward requests on a structured topology (e.g., a broadcast tree)” as “[t]hese methods were not adopted by blockchain systems largely because they are not tolerant to Byzantine nodes. For example, adversarial nodes at higher levels of a broadcast tree can disconnect it and thwart the progress of the broadcast” (Yang et al., 2022, p. 3) is false. The reason why these were not adopted is that IPv6 multicast was limited in availability in 2008.

The authors identify transaction broadcasting as a potential bottleneck in the operation of blockchain networks, particularly those striving for high throughput. Transaction broadcasting, the process of spreading transactions throughout the network, can become congested, slowing down the entire system. Yang et al. (2022) propose a method of coded transaction broadcasting to address this issue. By coding transactions for broadcasting, they can reduce the amount of data needed to be propagated through the network, thus enhancing the overall efficiency and throughput of the system.

The authors explore this approach in-depth, discussing the theoretical underpinnings, implementation details, and potential advantages. Through their research, Yang et al. (2022) demonstrate how coded transaction broadcasting can help mitigate congestion in the network, facilitating a higher transaction rate and improving blockchain scalability.

Yet, the analysis and proposed solution do not fully consider existing networking protocols like IPv6 multicast, which is not as susceptible to the congestion and attacks they discuss. The IPv6 multicast mechanism is inherently designed to efficiently deliver information to multiple recipients, which may render the problem Yang et al. (2022) are attempting to solve less critical.

What is more, there is an impression that the interpretation of blockchain could be rooted in biased or misinformed perspectives about the technology. Therefore, it is essential to critically assess the proposed solutions and their relevance in real-world blockchain scenarios. While the concept of coded transaction broadcasting presented by Yang et al. (2022) might theoretically enhance blockchain performance, it is important to consider the practical implications and the validity of the assumptions underlying their approach in the context of existing technologies and a nuanced understanding of blockchain systems.

[This blog post has been published by Dr. Craig Wright’s editor on behalf of Dr. Wright.]

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