Fabric

Abstract

We present a novel approach to building general-purpose "computation markets", in which users are able to deploy complex programs for blinded execution by a network of peers, which lay claim to digital currency bonded in the initial request for computation. Our design defers consensus on global state to an underlying trust anchor, particularly the Nakamoto Consensus surrounding Bitcoin's blockchain.

Introduction

Recent advances in Fully-Homomorphic Encryption (FHE) have reduced computational requirements to a domain in which real-world users may find tolerable, in the range of 30 seconds to two minutes for small, well-defined programs. Two primary approaches exist, Yao's garbled circuits model^[citation needed] and an array of secret-sharing designs, but Fabric's design relies on Yao's model for Secure Multi-Party Computations, or SMPC.

Background

Bitcoin

In 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto crystallized a solution to the Byzantine General's Problem in the form of Nakamoto Consensus, which is most famously utilized as part of Bitcoin's consensus mechanism. Launching publicly in 2009, Bitcoin has gone on to become the world's most reknown distributed system.

Smart Contracts

Bitcoin leverages the concept of a self-executing agreement known as a Smart Contract, a term coined by Nick Szabo in 2001^[citation needed]. While Bitcoin has encountered many upstart alternatives, it remains dominant in the market as of the time of writing, indicating it has the highest likelihood of success according to the Lindy Effect^[citation needed].

Payment Channels

A Payment Channel is a special arrangement between two Bitcoin users, who construct a special form of smart contract which applies additional constraints to the funds locked up in the contract, but allows the pair to perform large volumes of transactions without generating additional on-chain overhead.

Atomic Cross-Chain Transactions

Another interesting use of Bitcoin's smart contracting capability is the hash-lock, which can add the additional constraint on a Bitcoin transaction to require a pre-selected secret to be revealed in order to claim funds. When off-chain coordination is utilized, peers can leverage this tool to construct multi-chain transactions, which either happen all at once or not at all (thus the "atomic" description).

Potential Networks

To measure the potential along any one particular path, one first calculates the risk for each edge by measuring the probability of reversal, then multiplying it by the balance of channel (positive or negative). Once all routes have been computed, a simple sum along any route is sufficient to rank paths by potential value, allowing any peer to verify the correct execution of a contract by performing the sort themselves and checking the order of the resulting elements.

Let's take a simple example where Alice would like to pay the network to compute the n_th fibonacci number. Alice first composes her verifier program, which takes some inputs _x and y and produces some boolean value B as to whether x is at position y in the fibonacci sequence.

Approach

Minimized Trust Requirements

Assumptions

Cryptographic

Computational

Consensus

Components

Layer 1: Consensus on Global State

Fabric relies on Bitcoin's blockchain to establish consensus on a shared, global state, namely the monetary capital used in a Fabric-speaking network. Using this external conflict resolution mechanism, we can build smaller, more specialized networks without additionally having to implement our own consensus algorithm.

Layer 2: Peering & Payments

Requests for computation are small operations, typically a single application of a polynomial function to a known prior state. As even the simplest of programs is often composed from hundreds of thousands of such operations, requiring space in a globally-distributed database for every transaction would rapidly become prohibitively expensive. As such, Fabric relies on a network of deeply-embedded payment channels at Layer 2, not dissimilar from the Lightning Network or our earlier work on Impulse.

Each peering relationship has three primary components; the bonding commitment, the secret preimage, and the counterparty. A typical peer lifecycle might look as follows:

  1. User commits funds to a time-locked contract (the bonding commitment)
  2. User establishes a peering relationship with the network (the counterparty)
  3. User generates some secret preimage,

Layer 3: Execution

Bitcoin

The emergence of Bitcoin, a new peer-to-peer digital cash system in 2008 by Satoshi Nakamoto, catalyzed the development of what is now a burgeoning industry surrounding digital payments, identity, and information security. Fabric would not be possible without a reliable, independently-secured value token, and Bitcoin has to date achieve the widest success [cite: network size] and greatest security [cite: hash power] in this field. For this reason, we explicitly select the Bitcoin as the bond that secures all Fabric contracts.

Bitcoin works by enforcing a quorum of majority rule, whereby voting on the state of a shared database takes place in the form of a "proof of work". To vote on the consensus is to provide computational capacity towards the security of the network, expending energy to complete proofs in exchange for the minting of new value tokens, known as "bitcoins", which ostensibly represent the amount of energy spent in their creation.

This clever arrangement of incentives allows for the implementation of a triple-entry accounting system, wherein changes to the ledger must be broadcast publicly to the entire network and are subsequently independently verified for correctness by every participant before being relayed to the next. Once a modification has been verified, it can then move to a second phase, the "commit", whereby it and other currently outstanding transactions are appended in a new "page" to the ledger, known as a "block". This is isomorphic to the two-phase commit introduced by J. Gray [Gray78] in 1978.

With the addition of proof of work, Bitcoin presents a security profile reasonably defensible against outside parties, arranging a set of incentive mechanisms that ensure fair participation while keeping it reasonably secure against irrational or outright malicious participants. We find that the Bitcoin network demonstrates the principle that security of a network is directly correlated with the decentralization of the network, and also that the security of a network is function of its size [cite: altcoin failures]. Fabric requires such a system, and cannot provide provable fairness without it.

Information Markets

Fundamentally, Fabric aims to facilitate an information market. By addressing content across the network, and furthermore positively identifying it by utilizing cryptographic hashes, we can construct a market for information with the addition of an intrinsic payment mechanism. Actors participating in this market can independently price the delivery of the data, and consumers of these information bundles can independently choose which data provider they'd like to retrieve the data from.

We can think of Fabric in economic terms as a clearing house for computational resources, wherein contracts (termed "Service Contracts") are broadcast and claimed by individual actors on the network. These contracts can have varying levels of complexity, and are paid for by the consumers most interested in their results.

Payments between nodes on the network are made using the Bitcoin network, specifically using a special construction of transactions termed "duplex payment channels". This allows for a zero-risk commitment of monetary value, in addition to offering an extremely high rate of change – to be broadcast and committed to the Bitcoin transaction only once, at the end of a peer session (or longer).

Provable Fairness

  • principle of isolation
  • perfect hashing (uniformity guarantees)

Bitcoin works by establishing a linked list of finalized pages, known as "blocks", in a distributed ledger, the "blockchain". Actors within the network perform a resource-intensive operation in competition with one another to derive newly-minted tokens, known as "bitcoins", in an operation that is difficult to duplicate, but trivial to verify. The allocation of new tokens in this system is known as the "block subsidy", and it is the incentive mechanism by which outside parties are rewarded for providing the network with security through their efforts.

The Semantic Web

Timothy Berners-Lee introduced the idea of hypertext in 198~ [citation needed]. With it came the promise of a new era of context in the blossoming world of interconnected networks. Other, similar ideas emerged at roughly the same time, including Project Xanadu and ??? [citation needed].

With the introduction of XMLHTTPRequest by Microsoft in ??? [citation needed], the doors to a new era of the Web opened as new, interesting, and compelling use-cases became possible like never before. A new wave of dynamic "shell" applications that had the ability to modify documents after they had been retrieved emerged, including Twitter, MySpace, Friendster [???] [citation needed]. However, these applications very quickly became isolated silos with barely-working interfaces for integration, as their proprietary bundles of application-specific code had finite, acute focii.

A resurgent effort to restore the interoperability provided by purely semantic markup languages such as HTML gave birth to initiatives such as Microformats and later Schema.org [citation needed], but the overhead of their implementations gave too much resistance to their adoption.

Messaging

Alan Kay introduced the idea of messaging .... Today we observe many derivatives of this model, including that of the Actor Model citation needed.

A messaging system provides .... It does not, however, provide any mechanism for ordering. This is desirable when developing asynchronous systems. However, for conflict resolution, one might want to identify which particular message came first. This leaves us with the timestamping problem.

Protocol

The Fabric protocol implements a mechanism for representing a largely intangible idea, trust, as a pre-established commitment in a slightly more tangible fashion, a value token. If a network is composed primarily of honest, friendly nodes, then commitments increase over time until the updates provided by the network cease to be valuable. Should a node cease being honest, it destroys its ability to increase in value over time.

Security

Contract Signatures

Transactions as Functions

Given a transaction set t, there should also be a correlating inverse transaction set t^-1 such that the state of a database prior to the application of t can be completely derived after its application by applying t^-1.

Further, individual patchsets, should be composable functions, with equivalent inverse functions.

Fuzzchains (WIP)

Since the constraint of a finite limit on information (such as a limit on token supply) is not present in an information market, as new information can be introduced at any time, To implement a distributed datastore on a peer-to-peer basis without compromising the freedom of speech of any individual node, we must remove the constraint of consensus from the network.

Without a need to enforce the availability of specific transaction sets, we can derive a new type of blockchain we term a "fuzzchain". This fuzzchain allows for many divergent sequences of chains, which may or may not be in conflict at any point in time.

In the case of Fabric, we replace the direct block subsidy and transaction fee market with a

Multi-Party Computations

Fabric aims to provide data security across a fully decentralized network, that is, one without any requisite third party. As participants in such a network are not necessarily favorable actors, a strategy to protect data while simultaneously allowing for computations on said data is necessary for such a system to be viable.

We build on Baum's work on secure computations, taking advantage of recent advances in computer science to extend existing models to include n-party computations. Specifically, we utilize a hierarchical secure multi-party computation, which splits our network into a hierarchy of equally sized MPCs which are then used in sum to compute the finalized output. As these units are completely independent, we can parallelize the work at each level of the hierarchy.

Some optimizations from Enigma are included in Fabric to offer linear, rather than quadratic, scalability.

  • Yao, Andrew C. ”Protocols for secure computations.” 2013 IEEE 54th Annual Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science. IEEE, 1982.
  • Baum, Carsten, Ivan Damgrd, and Claudio Orlandi. ”Publicly auditable secure multi-party computation.” Security and Cryptography for Networks. Springer International Publishing, 2014. 175-196.
  • Cohen, Gil, et al. ”Efficient multiparty protocols via log-depth threshold formulae.” Advances in CryptologyCRYPTO 2013. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2013. 185-202.

  • Guy Zyskind, Oz Nathan, Alex ’Sandy’ Pentland. "Enigma: Decentralized Computation Platform with Guaranteed Privacy" MIT

Application

The application layer of Fabric is the implementation of the underlying Resource contract. We provide Maki, a reference implementation of the Application Resource Contracts (ARC) protocol,

Resources

Fabric's

Semantic Linkability

Since Fabric exposes Resources in a descriptive fashion, applications can interact with one another. By requesting a resource from a namespace other than one's own, information can cross the boundaries of individual applications and other interesting combinations of data can be constructed.

Furthermore, since applications can be described in their entirety with a simple contract, applications can discover one anothers' behaviors and resource definitions. This can be used to build various forms of semantic interoperability, potentially including new forms of search engine behaviors.

Mutations

Once an application's underlying Resources are defined, their state can be manipulated in an atomic fashion. Arbitrary rules can be defined about the validity of a mutation, including various authorization models.

Mutation Blocks

Fabric, in contrast to traditional proof-of-work mechanisms, does not require work to be bundled into "blocks". Instead, consensus is achieved through the bundling of atomic mutations to the chain state. These atomic operations are rolled up into groupings called, perhaps inconveniently, "transactions". These transactions are isomorphic to traditional blockchain transactions, in that either a block is valid or it is not, as determined by the component operations it contains. If any one operation is invalid, so too must be the block.

OTHER NOTES

See:

  • "Convergent Instrumental Goal"

OTHER CITATIONS TO INCLUDE: