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A Deep Dive into Analog’s Timechain

by Gail Poole

While blockchain has evolved into a solution that organizations can leverage to validate transactions across several industries for decades, there is no model for verifying event data. Yet, there are several decentralized applications (DApps) across various industry verticals  that are dependent on event data.Without verified event data, these DApps run very inefficiently. For example, Augur, a well-known Ethereum DApp that is used to predict future events, could leverage previous event data to calculate the likelihood of each prediction coming true more accurately. Using this data, Augur can then adjust the size of rewards offered to speculators.

Most players in the blockchain space are focused on the applications this technology has for payments, decentralized finance (DeFi), exchanges, swaps, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), oracles, and gaming. While event data is a crucial component for managing the workflows and offering cross-chain capabilities in these services, event data is not a priority in current blockchain projects.

Blockchain Use Cases

Identity verification is one of the most revolutionary applications of blockchain. This is especially because blockchain offers identity verification to protect private user data. To do this, blockchain developers have built DApps that perform identity verification through biometric data, facial identification, and digital identities. The DApps then leverage blockchain to store this encrypted data in the distributed ledger. Third parties can then verify that the data has not been changed. In this way, these third parties can verify the consistency of the data.

In a world where transparency is a crucial business priority – especially among large corporations, blockchain can be used to audit enterprise systems.

In a voting system, votes can be treated as transactions that are appended to the blockchain. Since these votes are treated as transactions, the blockchain can be used to keep track of the votes received while maintaining voter privacy. In this way, the blockchain would ensure the consistency and integrity of the votes. All the voters in this system would trust the final results because they can verify the results themselves.

The Importance of Event Data Verification—the Missing Link in DApps

At the moment, blockchain can be used to verify all the points mentioned above, but it still can’t be used to confirm that a specific event happened at a specific time in the past.

The lack of reliable event data also compromises the efficiency of time-dependent DApps. For example, while decentralized money markets such as Aave and CREAM have made it easier for people to borrow and lend funds, it’s currently impossible to lend and borrow seamlessly across different blockchains. Let’s assume a user has a wallet on Ethereum but wants to borrow funds on BSC, they have to start by putting up collateral on Ethereum and creating a bridge (at an additional fee) to allow the BSC tokens to be transferred to Ethereum. Once that is done, they can then borrow on BSC and swap on Ethereum where they have their wallet.

With an interoperable solution such as the one at Analog, users could avoid all that hassle and, instead, borrow tokens from BSC and transfer them to Ethereum in one click.

For these reasons, Analog is implementing the world’s first layer-0 blockchain powered by proof-of-time to help organizations maximize efficiency and power time-dependent DApps.

Just as proof-of-work (PoW) and proof-of-stake (PoS) allow Bitcoin transactions to be confirmed and recorded without a central authority, proof-of-time (PoT) enables the Analog network to validate event-based data. However, unlike PoW and PoS – both of which operate as first-to-file models – PoT assigns a separate and distinct timestamp to each transaction that is carried out on the blockchain.

PoT is simply a consensus protocol that allows time and consensus nodes to verify event data cryptographically. Analog’s PoT concept runs on a ledger known as the Timechain. This Timechain contains validated blocks linked together through cryptography to form a long chain, hence the name “Timechain.” The Timechain uses the causality of hash chains and the unpredictability of the PoT consensus algorithm to establish an irrefutable record of event data. Thanks to the immutable transactions and the principle of causality on which the Timechain is based, what happened before and the events that followed becomes impossible to erase or corrupt.

How Analog Guarantees Data Privacy

In addition to providing a platform where users can validate event data, Analog has developed an ecosystem where privacy is guaranteed.

To do this, the Analog network relies on zero-knowledge proofs known as the zero-knowledge scalable transparent arguments of knowledge (zk-STARKs). With these proofs, the network can transfer event data between applications without sacrificing the time data itself.

This level of privacy is particularly useful in situations where sensitive information is being transferred from one DApp to another. For example, with zk-STARKs, one DApp could connect to another to verify your credit score is above a certain threshold. In this scenario, the second DApp would only verify that your credit score is above the stated threshold and share the necessary proof.

While other platforms already use zk-STARKs, other existing implementations follow a different model that doesn’t allow for interoperability across different blockchains. For instance, Zcash, the first blockchain to introduce zk-STARKs as a privacy-focused solution, uses these proofs to verify transactions on the native blockchain.

On the other hand, Analog applies zk-STARKs in a way that allows DApps users to verify time data across blockchains using private continuum smart contracts as the intermediate. These smart contracts connect with each other using the Analog Timegraph’s API. Let’s use the example of the continuum smart contract that connects Uber and the Marriott again. Let’s also assume that Uber and the Marriott run on two different blockchains.

Since Analog is a Layer-0 blockchain with infrastructure for interoperability, Analog’s implementation of zk-STARKs can interoperate across both blockchains seamlessly. Using the receipt of payment at Uber as a trigger, the continuum smart contract would then alert the staff at the Marriott to prepare a room for the guest who is arriving on the Uber without revealing the details of the receipt, maintaining the guest’s privacy

Thanks to this infrastructure, a sender on chain A can perform a predetermined action that triggers a new and separate action that is part of the services offered on a different chain (chain B). In other words, by performing the predetermined action, the sender from chain A can trigger the delivery of services on chain B in a private manner. In order for this to be possible, both chains need to allow their smart contracts to communicate interoperably by running the Timegraph API.

With this unique and seamless implementation of zk-STARKs, Analog is powering the next generation of DApps services that will run more efficiently. To find out how to start using these zk-STARKs from Analog to protect time data, click here.

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