MacroChain Review

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When analyzing a project, the Eden Labs team looks for projects that do something unique or do it much better than its competition. Quality projects should be able to explain complex ideas simplified to their audience. In addition, projects that rely heavily on a broad user base have to have an incentive for the first ten people to join the network before a million users is ever achievable. No project will succeed if it requires a million participants to bring any value to its users.

 

Summary

MacroChain (MANX) is a distributed ledger chain with features built around service-chain architecture. MANX has incorporated various technological elements including post-quantum cryptography, scaling through sidechains and state channels, as well as other features. With a focus on safety, efficiency, and low transaction costs, MANX is attempting to optimize the trade-off between security and centralized efficiency. The platform supports turing-complete computation, digital signature technology which is quantum computing resistant, privacy protection based on homomorphic encryption, and interoperability across chains. The project is open-sourced, and the developing organization is non-profit.

 

Industry Need

MANX aims to reduce the challenges of blockchain application development, bridging the gap between individual developers, technology communities, and the deployment demands of SMEs (small and medium enterprises.) At the core of their approach to building a new generation blockchain, are four main aspects:

  • The platform is built on top of a turing-complete architecture, meaning that it is capable of computing anything computable given enough resources.
  • It integrates an efficient digital signature for post-quantum security, so it’s virtually unbreakable despite overwhelming computing power.
  • It innovates in areas of privacy protection.
  • It builds on a next-generation networks for a closed-loop token economy system of value aggregation, where each application can act both independently as well as in cooperation with the network.

 

Solution

MacroChain’s architecture is simple but reliable. The balance it provides between distributed security and centralized efficiency allows users to optimize high-performance computation, without having to compromise on the security delivered by the multi-chain’s architectural solutions. MANX is a super server set to deliver decentralized services for various internet services on top of an extensible multi-chain architecture and a high-performance mainchain. This approach to third-generation blockchains combines a safe, efficient, and low-cost public chain with adaptable side-chains, the MANX development framework, templates, and plug & play technical architecture for small and medium businesses.

 

Tech Analysis

As a super server, MANX aims to become a platform for start to finish dApp development. The realization of this goal requires several specific technological innovations. MANX has a three-tier sandwich structure. At the bottom is the infrastructure, followed in the middle by the MANX development framework, and lastly, the MANX-based blockchain ecosystem application. In this article, we’ll be overviewing some of the core elements of this architecture as well as discussions with the team, an overview of the multi-chain interaction protocol, how the consensus operates, the approach to interoperability via relay chains, an analysis of on-chain vs. off-chain channels, and lastly, the integration and role of lattice ciphers in enabling quantum-resistance.

 

Tech Breakdown

MANX is built on a hierarchical subchain architecture, meaning there is a core mainchain and configurable subchains. These subchains are subject to the configuration of the mainchain. The mainchain is made for high performance, while sidechains are flexible and serve the various needs of different decentralized applications. This flexibility allows sidechains to support different block sizes and specialize in areas such as the routing protocol. Ultimately, this means that applications can customize sidechain architecture while still benefiting from the interoperability, security, and performance of the mainchain.

Subchains are configured through the MANX generation template and can have consensus and storage mechanisms. Hence, each side-chain can focus on its business logic, provisioning the necessary computing resources, while the core mainchain provides the infrastructure service. In this scenario, the mainchain will generate related Merkle proof data of subchains.

To guarantee sidechain autonomy from the mainchain, the connection between the two happens through the block headers. Through this method, the mainchain does not require full access to sidechains, and protocol channels are in place instead for the subchain to directly access specific nodes and protocols deployed on the mainchain. This ensures autonomy and sidechain security, while ensuring that the sidechains can still communicate with the mainchain.

Protocol chains can also be considered as relay chains which run the distributed service interaction protocols. As explained by the MacroChain team:

“Protocol chains can also be considered as relay chains which run the distributed service interaction protocols. Variables on different chains are mapped on the relay chain. The variables before and after mapping are called the original image and the mirror image respectively. The relay smart contract is established on the relay chain based on all images. The relay chain achieves any interoperability with the public chain through the monitoring node and execution node. The input of the relaying contract is provided by the monitoring node which monitors the original image, and the output of the relaying contract is implemented by the execution node to the original image.”

The mainchain serves as the hub for sidechain interactions, and for communication between the chains, MANX adopts the relay chain approach and a built-in SPV (Simplified Payment Verification) mechanism. In this framework, cross-chain services are possible through cross-chain smart contracts that are distributed over side-chains while the consistency of the entire transaction needs to be guaranteed. Also involved in this process are user, monitor, and execution nodes. This enables a high level of sidechain interaction. It allows assets to be transferred between sidechains and for isolated smart contracts to call on other isolated contracts. This is done through relay chains with the mainchain acting as the middleman.

Relay chains include all the mechanisms for event processing and saving, as well as a complete state machine for processing smart contracts. The arbitration mechanism of the relay is done through SPV whereby the mainchain stores the block header information of each subchain and verifies the existence of transaction and account information. Once relayers send transactions to the relay chain, it validates the block headers based on the existing block header information. Once verified, block headers are added to the current block headers.

In regards to its consensus, the MANX mainchain integrates the Thunderella consensus method, aiming for rapid development and deployment. Within the state machine system, servers agree on a growing, linearly ordered log. All servers must have the same log record, and there must be liveness (whenever a node submits a transaction, it can quickly be appended to the log.) To achieve responsiveness, two-thirds of the participants have to be honest. In the worst case scenario, the network will be slow to make decisions to ensure consistency, and in the best case, the protocol provides responsive confirmations. The latter requires more than three-fourths of nodes to be online and active. In other words, Thunderella shifts between a less safe, more efficient state and a more safe, less efficient state depending on the threat level of the network.

The consensus model itself works as follows: a leader is designated; they receive transactions, sign them, and send them to the committee. Committee members then confirm the transactions with at most one sequence number. If a transaction gets more than three-fourths of sequence numbers from the committee, it is notarized. The protocol ensures liveliness under optimal conditions and is consistent as long as the leader, three-fourths of the committee, and half of the nodes are honest. On-chain, contracts (divided into three categories: root contract, arbitration contract, and oracle contract) are used for final settlements and only becomes active after tokens are received from all participants. Once all off-chain transactions occur, the final settlement is transferred to all participants. These can then make an arbitration through the arbitration contract if they do not agree with the final result. The mainchain stores the final result. It’s relevant as well to understand that the MacroChain team is modifying elements of Thunderella to ensure it’s more applicable to MANX’s specific requirements.

And lastly, at the core of all this is the implementation of lattice cipher. It is well known that modern cryptography is based on the theory of computational complexity. For example, the security of RSA and ECC public key cryptosystems are based on the assertion that larger integer factorization and discrete logarithms are NP hardship problems. In simple terms, this means that modern day cryptography is based on the principle that for some problems (called NP problems), calculating solutions is very difficult, but verifying correct solutions is easy. RSA cryptography provides a good example of this. RSA uses prime number factorization. Essentially, they contend that it’s very hard to determine which two numbers were multiplied together to get a large number (if only given that large number). However, if provided with the two numbers, it’s easy to confirm that they do indeed produce the larger number. ECC and RSA are based on this principal.

However, Shor’s algorithm shows us that large integer factorization and discrete logarithm problems are a solvable problem in the quantum turing machine environment. In other words, given the computing power of future quantum computers, they will make quick work of modern day encryption methods. Lattice-based cryptography is based on the lattice problem, such as the shortest vector problem and the nearest vector problem in the lattice. Academia proves that lattice problems can’t be solved by all existing quantum algorithms including Shor’s algorithm and Grover’s algorithm. Hence, unlike more widely used and known public-key schemes such as RSA and ECC which are easily compromised by quantum computers, lattice-based constructions appear to be resistant to attack by both classical and quantum computers. It’s important to recognize that lattice-based cryptography isn’t quantum computing-proof, but merely far more difficult to compromise than ECC and RSA.

MacroChain integrates a very similar model of lattice-based cryptography called ETRU, according to their latest academic paper “An Advanced Quantum-Resistant Signature Scheme for Cloud-Based on Eisenstein Ring.” This technology will not be available from the start, but will be implemented further down the line.

 

Verdict

MacroChain implements a wide variety of architecture components, some more developed than others. Besides the anti-quantum implementation, none of this is novel technology, but rather the combination of the architectural designs is itself what makes MANX interesting. MANX provides a platform that benefits from the customizability of sidechains, incorporates relay chains to ensure that these chains are communicative, and uses Thunderella to ensure fast and safe consensus making. Future implementations of lattice based cryptography should provide long term protection against future quantum computers.

The only drawback is that there is no information yet on testings for interoperability with the different architecture components; nor has the design and implementation been finalized. The whitepaper leaves a lot of unanswered questions, and a meeting with the MacroChain team was required to clarify some of our questions.

 

Roadmap

  • Q3 2018
    • Team-building
    • Fundraising (private placement & public offering)
  • Q4 2018 & Q1 2019
    • Parallel development team for mainchain, multi-chain, state channel, post quantum system and MANX framework
    • Mainchain testnet goes live
  • Q2, Q3, Q4 2019
    • Assemble MANX components
    • MANX framework development for enterprise dapp development
  • Q1, Q2 2020
    • Functional testing on MANX framework performed
  • Q3, Q4, 2020
    • Enhanced features developed for MANX
    • Development of post-quantum cryptography
    • State channel complete
    • Cross-chain mechanism modules complete
  • Q1 2021
    • MANX public chain goes live
    • Genesis block is created
    • MANX dapps boarding on-chain

 

Verdict

The first real tests before the launch of phase one will be taking place at the end of the year, followed by the first wave of developments coming together throughout 2019. Some of the more complex implementations such as the  the post-quantum cryptography or the cross-chain mechanism modules will take longer.

 

Token Economics

Dapps running on sidechains can support their own token, building a closed loop token economy. Whenever that token needs to circulate in fiat, it can be exchanged with MANX. That MANX will then be exchanged with fiat or BTC, ETH, and other mainstream currency through exchanges.

A total of 10 billion MANX at 0.01 USD will be distributed across fundraising (30%), mining (20%), non-for-profit association reserves (30%), the core team (15%), and legal/advisors (5%).

In the public chain of MANX, leader and committee nodes are rewarded with MANX for validating and participating on the protocol. In a malicious environment, the consensus mechanism can be POW or POS. There are a total of 20 billion MANX allocated as the rewards for mining.

 

Verdict

Standard token economics support a multi-chain structure, providing transaction support between main and sidechains, and rewards to the nodes supporting the protocol’s proper implementation.

 

Ecosystem & Rivals

MANX self-classifies itself as a fifth generation public-chain, featuring multi-chain architecture, PoS with byzantine fault tolerance, and smart contract support with sharding.

MANX aims to become the most practical and developer-friendly blockchain 3.0 public chain, with the following features as crucial differentiation to its competitors:

  • A super server capable of supporting thousands of Dapps
  • Implement a public-chain with the MANX consensus mechanism
  • Tightly coupled multi-chain system with industrial strength scalability
  • Hypercube routing for infinite sharding capability
  • SQL compatible MANX scripting language
  • MANX virtual machine
  • MANX application templates for fast deployment

At the core of the competition review is an analysis of how well MANX can tackle cross-chain interoperability, compared to well-known players such as Polkadot or Cosmos. Relaying messages about the state of one chain to another is the best approach for cross-chain communication, but it’s also the hardest to implement.

While MANX’s implementation is at the moment highly theoretical and is still in development, its competitors are further ahead in their roadmap. Cosmos integrates the Inter-blockchain Communication protocol, in which two types of transactions are defined, one which allows a blockchain to prove to any observer its most recent block-hash, and another one which allows a blockchain to demonstrate to any observer that the given packet was indeed published by the sender’s application, via a Merkle-proof to the recent block-hash. Polkadot combines relay chains to coordinate consensus and transaction delivery between chains; para-chains for constituent blockchains which gather and process transactions; and bridges to link blockchains with their own consensus, such as Ethereum.

 

Verdict

Blockchain interoperability may be the next wave of innovation that creates massive value in the efforts of expanding the decentralized internet. While heavy contenders have already made strides in development, it is too early to tell which network/s will lead the movement. Whichever attracts more developers by design will be the one that grows at the faster pace, and that may ultimately be the most significant advantage. We’ll have to evaluate how MacroChain’s approach tests out later this year to have an educated guess at what their positioning will be.

 

Team & Leadership

In the fast, challenging, and dynamic industry of DLT startups, the team is an imperative component to a project’s success. The frequent need for pivoting and the challenges of a new industry necessitate a team with a strong background in distributed ledger technology, technical and engineering educations, and proven reputations. Team bios, LinkedIn profiles, past work experience, and publishing work are all reviewed and analyzed.

Jack Chiu, Co-Founder

  • China’s top cryptology and blockchain expert.
  • Extensive experience in cryptologic algorithmic design, telecom security, blockchain security architecture, and complex networks.
  • Holds a number of patents and many of his research works are internationally recognized.

Yong Jiang, Co-Founder and Chief Architect

  • Leading blockchain architect focusing on distributed system design.
  • Well versed in all generations of blockchain technologies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum and Hyperledger. Currently focuses on smart contracts and cross-chain research and design.
  • Author of top selling book in the blockchain space: “Blockchain in Vernacular Language”.

Sheng Huang, Super Server Architect

  • MS in Computer Engineering from the University of Manitoba.
  • Built many robust webs, mobile, and decentralized enterprise applications for private industries and government.
  • Skilled in cloud computing, clustering, load balancing, and various operating systems.

Yang Tang, Network Security

  • Engaged in software development and information security for 18 years.
  • Developed the National Debt System and Personal E-bank for China Construction Bank.
  • Head of IT Security Management.

Feida Zhu, Artificial Intelligence

  • Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Hong Kong.
  • Associate Researcher at the Business School of Hong Kong University.
  • Main research area is computer vision and computer graphics.

Yawei Cui, Co-Founder

  • Extremely solid academic background, MA in Philosophy & Aesthetics, MA in Cultural Studies and Ph.D. in Sociology.
  • An accomplished professional who crosses the boundaries of many areas.
  • Global Head of Academic Resourcing and Senior Academic Director of Global Training at Moody’s Corporation.

Note: The team has changed since we performed our analysis. For an updated view of their team, please check their website. Verdict is the same nevertheless.

 

Verdict

Highly technical and academic team with several Ph.D. holders. Experienced in a wide variety of relevant fields including cryptology, security, decentralized applications, and networks. They will likely need to onboard more business development manpower later this year as they begin to bring their services to the millions of SMEs they mention in their roadmap.

 

Advisors

Eric S. Maskin, Ph.D.

  • Nobel Prize Winner of Economics
  • Professor at Harvard University

Randall David, Ph.D.

  • Professor of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence at MIT

Vladan Vuletic, Ph.D.

  • Professor of Quantum Computing at MIT

 

Verdict

Along the lines of the team, highly academic and technical group of advisors. However, there are not a large variety of fields represented.

 

Red Flags

  • The ambitions of their architectural level need to be put to test before we can make an educated guess on the viability of the MANX model.
  • As much as we were pleased by the clarifications after our meeting with the MacroChain team, the whitepaper fails to convey certain points across and leaves space for many questions left unanswered. They are releasing a new whitepaper soon.
  • The interoperability wave of new proposals is as exciting and necessary as it is saturated. MacroChain will have to meet all of its expectations if it wants to compete with other players in the industry that are already ahead.
  • The team structure lacks business expertise, which is very much needed to define the enterprise ecosystem later next year.
  • Not many details released on exactly their implementation of Thunderella and how the developing team is modifying the consensus protocol.
  • There is no information yet on the partners and investors that MANX is working with.

 

Verdict

MacroChain is a well-rounded blockchain architecture, with only some minor concerns as we are in the very early stages of its development. The project needs to improve its communication due to the complexity of its aim, show test audits before the end of the year to be entirely convincing, and integrate new members with expertise in business development and partnerships to tackle the ecosystem development.

 

Conclusion

MacroChain brings together plenty of positive features that show promise from the start: a robust architecture, ambitious aims, and a technical roadmap supported by a strong group of team members and advisors. The architecture provides a good balance between security, efficiency, and customization. It’s built to support many diverse applications, as well as ensure those applications are well protected. For MANX to succeed against its rivals however, it will have to meet all of its technical expectations and incorporate new efforts in driving social presence and onboarding invigorating partnerships.

 


 

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Disclaimer: This is not investment advice, merely our opinion and analysis on the project. Do your own research.

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