Quick Nebulas Overview
● Founded in 2017
● Sometimes referred to as the Google of blockchains
● A Decentralized platform which provides an innovating ranking & search system for all blockchains
● Uses an innovating consensus algorithm called Proof of Devotion, combining some of the best qualities of more traditional consensus methods (PoW, PoS, PoI).
● Allows for the main blockchain protocol & all DApps residing on the Nebulas platform to be edited or updated and changes to be implemented without the need for forks.
● Founder & CEO of NAS also founded Antshares (now known as NEO)
● The team behind this project carries a wealth of experience with the titans of the tech industry & computer science world
● The whitepaper is extremely strong, recognized by other industry experts as a stand-out.
● Currently in TestNet
By The Numbers
What Problem is Nebulas Trying to Solve?
Problem #1: Inability for users to find relevant DApps/smart contract
Solution: Create platform with integral ranking system & search functionality
The blockchain ecosystem is getting more complex by the minute as there are elements being created at a rapid pace. Decentralized Applications (DApps), smart contracts, new currencies & innovative projects are being created in droves every day. Similar when the internet age began, hundreds (and eventually thousands) of new websites were created every day. Early web users were able to navigate to these sites by typing in the correct domain name into their 1st generation web browsers and watching the magic happen. Although this provided unprecedented access to information, it was clunky and difficult to find what was needed.
Although it took many years, it became painfully obvious as web traffic increased that a centralized search engine was needed to assist users in navigating the world wide web. Instead of having to type ”www.pizzahut.com” and wondering whether it should have been ”www.pizza-hut.com”, for the first time users could now just search for Pizza Hut and a link to the correct domain name would appear. For those readers who weren’t around or using the internet before search engines, it may be hard to imagine life without them!
In the age of the ”new internet”, we are in the early development stage. The potential use cases are abundant, but actual usage of blockchain and cryptocurrency is still very limited. Less than 1% of all financial transactions are handled via blockchain. Blockchain accounts for less than 1% of cloud data storage, real estate transactions, medical records, employee wages, shipping records, bills of lading, supply chain management, invoices, taxes paid and hundreds of other examples that are still dominated by traditional methods of information storage and value transfers.
Within 2–3 years, most of the current blockchain projects (at least according to current roadmaps) will have working products and will be focused on gaining widespread adoption by the masses. When the use cases are realized, the ”new internet” will face a similar problem as the pre-search engine world wide web. Users who want to hire a cab via a decentralized system and pay in Bitcoin shouldn’t have to know that this project is called BitCab. They’ll want to be able to search for ”cab” or ”taxi” and see a list of projects which provide the services they seek. Nebulas aims to provide a platform for searching and finding the most appropriate DApps and smart contracts. Search functionality is a good first step, but a ranking system is a necessity in order to determine which results will provide the user with the most value. Nebulas has also created an innovative ranking system which is capable to objectively assigning a network-value score to Dapps, smart contracts, and even individual user addresses. The team has also taken steps to ensure the integrity of the ranking system remains intact, filtering out network transactions which are not representative of true increased network utility.
One of the most intriguing aspects of the Nebulas project is that it aims to solve a problem which isn’t a major one today. However, with the rapid growth in the blockchain space, the need for a platform providing a value-based ranking system and search capability will become a near necessity (as we view search engines like Google today).
Problem #2: Forks are required to make changes to blockchain protocols & DApps
Solution: Innovative Nebulas Force
Nebulas Force refers to the ability of the blockchain and the DApps residing on the system to be self-evolving. Nebulas has a unique architecture and block structure where the base protocols become part of the blockchain data and are upgraded through the addition of on-chain data. In addition, smart contract data can be upgraded by enabling cross-contract access to state variables at the bottom layer of storage of smart contracts. A visual representation. The Nebulas Virtual Machine (NVM) will use LLVM (a highly modularized collection of compiler tool chains and technologies). The revolutionary block structure, combined with the NVM and flexible programming languages will provide a platform with inherently stronger functionality than previous generation blockchain systems. Visual representations of this are shown below in the Nebulas Whitepaper.
Technical jargon have your head spinning? Not to worry — here’s what this all means in plain English:
Existing popular Dapp platforms (namely Ethereum) were built with an inherent structure that makes it nearly impossible to update effectively. Picture a car that was built 5 years ago and is currently cruising down the highway at 80MPH. This year a new engine has been developed that offers double the gas mileage with triple the power and you want to change out your that 5 year -old engine with this latest and greatest technology. You can’t. It’d be nearly impossible to change out the engine while the car is moving 80 MPH down the highway. This is how the Ethereum network is operating currently. The network is fully operational — transactions are occurring rapidly, smart contracts are being deployed & executed. There are no means of pushing the pause button to make necessary repairs or upgrades. Additionally, smart contracts that exist on Ethereum aren’t able to be updated either. Nebulas solves both of these major problems through their system architecture and block structure. The flexibility to adapt to ever-changing technology without the need for forks (as we see prevalent today) will give Nebulas staying power. Platforms that cannot adapt will be left in the dust, but Nebulas has been built to allow for change, to embrace new code & updates, to grow with the evolving technology over time.
Problem #3: Existing Consensus Algorithms All Have Inherent Flaws
Solution: Innovative Proof of Devotion (PoD) Consensus Algorithm
Nebulas will use Proof of Devotion (PoD) as the system’s consensus algorithm, combining many of the good features of the other more commonly used consensus methods. Bitcoin uses Proof of Work (PoW), which provides strong security but also requires high mining cost and limits the speed of transactions. Other blockchains use Proof of Stake (PoS), which uses asset amount to replace hash rate and the probability of obtaining the bookkeeping right is based on coin/token ownership. Although PoS overcomes the issue of high mining power consumption and transaction speed, the ”big players” are more likely to gain control and form a sort of monopoly of the ecosystem. This could be damaging to the overall health and well-being of the Nebulas ecosystem. Though PoW & PoS comprise the bulk of the consensus algorithms used by today’s blockchains, a newer form of consensus called Proof of Importance (PoI) uses an account importance score to determine the probability of bookkeeping rights. PoI addresses both the high mining cost issue associated with PoW and also eliminates the monopoly issue with PoS, but still has a downfall: the bookkeepers of the network could have nothing at stake & therefore the cost to reverse a block or ”cheat” would be next to nothing. Without the incentive to maintain a valid ledger, the exposure to a network attack is increased.
Nebulas recognized that there is a need for a better consensus algorithm. Their solution is to combine the traits of Proof of Stake & Proof of Importance to create a unique Proof of Devotion (PoD) consensus algorithm. In short, it will integrate the strict economic penalties seen in PoS with the concept of account importance seen in PoI. The cost penalty aspect of PoS will enhance the irreversibility of PoI and the account importance rating will contain the potential monopoly, creating the best of both worlds. The Proof of Devotion concept will use the Nebulas Rank system to determine account importance, further enhancing the value of this aspect of the network’s functionality. There has been much debate on what the best consensus algorithm is, this team may have just found the golden ticket.
The founder & CEO, Hitters Xu, was also the founder of Antshares (now known as NEO).
The team behind Xu is just as strong. Robin Zhong and Aero Wang are co-founders of Nebulas & have extensive experience in the blockchain world as well. Zhong is an original architect of Ant Financial’s Blockchain Platform and the founder of Chinas first blockchain support platform, Tongxinclub. Wang co-founded Antshares (NEO) with Xu. The developers on the team have experience with Google, Facebook & IBM as software engineers.
The project is focused on developers. They will provide a multitude of developer tools to assist in creating the most robust DApps on their platform and making it easier for developers to use the Nebulas System
Nebulas has a Developer Incentive Protocol (DIP), which is a positive feedback to incentivize developers who create widely used DApps and smart contracts. Popular DApps/smart contracts that see high usage will be rewarded in the $NAS token.
Nebulas has lofty goals of becoming the premier platform for DApp developers and enhancing the overall user experience for interface to the blockchain ecosystem. The ranking and search functionality will be critical when mass adoption truly begins and as the overall cryptocurrency/blockchain ecosystem continues its rapid expansion. The technology behind this project is not copy/paste of existing open-source code, but rather a unique and highly innovative block structure and protocol. The ability to modify protocols and smart contracts is another necessity if this technology will go mainstream. Nebulas has the best solutions today for allowing for these types of modifications & could possibly eliminate the need for the much-debated forks that the industry has seen up to this point. The team behind this effort comes from a history of success in not only the blockchain space but also the computer science and tech industry and has proven that they can create powerful platforms. Nebulas may have created the most complete consensus algorithm in their Proof of Devotion model, which serves as the fundamental basis to the network. Nebulas may provide solutions to multiple major problems which exist in current blockchain ecosystems & will incentivize developers to use their platform and provide tangible value to improve the utility of the network. With the project currently in the Testnet phase, the future is bright for this project if this superstar team can execute on their goals. Given their track record, there are many reasons to support their cause and invest in the Nebulas project.
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Also published on Medium.