When it comes to cryptocurrency, we are presented with a plethora of projects that at first glance all seem rather interesting. Upon deeper scrutiny, you may discover that many are simply copycats of each other, or have no viable, profitable or justifiable use in the real world.
While the first cryptocurrencies seemed decentralized and ownership spread across large communities, many recent projects have assigned large portions of the overall token supply to the team. This in itself, is a form of centralization.
Even in recent times, there have been instances when a single mining pool surpassed hashing power of over 50% of the network effectively giving them the ability to perform a 51% attack if they were malicious.
Providing security, decentralization, easy access and optimized use of network resources all at the same time has been an impossible task, until now.
Harmony is a Sharding based blockchain that was created to resolve the current challenges in the distributed ledger industry.
WHAT IS SHARDING?
Sharding is a type of database partitioning that separates very large databases into smaller, faster, more easily managed parts called data shards. The word shard means a small part of a whole. Source.
Each of these individual shards can handle the same complex tasks as the entire database/network. The aim of a sharded network is to be able to process transactions quickly, accurately and securely by reducing computing and storage requirements.
Each shard processes non-conflicting transactions in parallel then updates the global state with other shards after running consensus on different shards.
Imagine the blockchain network was your 2 terabytes external hard-drive. When you connect it to your system (e.g. a laptop), you notice that sometimes it's slow to display or reveal the results of folders. This is because your system has to scan the entire hard-drive every time you want to access any information on that hard drive.
You will agree this can get annoying.
Compare that with when you plug in a small USB drive (say perhaps 1gb, 2gb). You will see that the system easily navigates the contents of the USB drive without delay.
This is basically how Sharding works on the blockchain. Sharding breaks down the large database into many smaller partitions. This allows users to quickly connect to the Harmony blockchain to conduct transactions and other activities without delay.
WHAT'S SPECIAL ABOUT HARMONY SHARDING?
Sharding technology is not relatively new. There are other projects that have attempted to incorporate it into their infrastructure. Let's look at how they compare to Harmony.
Harmony employs deep sharding. While others only focus on sharding on only the Software Layer, Harmony also shards on the Network Layer. This optimizes bandwidth and reduces latency while enhancing security.
Another advantage of Harmony's Sharding technology is that with legacy blockchains we get a general transaction limit (e.g. 7 transactions per second for Bitcoin and 15 TPS for Ethereum) but with Harmony each shard can handle its own transactions. A single Harmony shard can reach 1000 transactions per second!.
Combine this with the fact that Harmony can create blocks quickly within shards or across the network, and Cross shard transactions scale logarithmically with the number of shards (that is, every new shard gets you 1, 10, 100... more transactions instead of 5, 10, 15). You can see there is virtually no limit for its scalability.
As at the time of writing this article, Harmony has launched their Day ONE Mainnet. It boasts 600 nodes and when the planned Mainnet Phase 2 released, scalability will be increased by activating 1,600 nodes (4 shards with 400 nodes each). Mainnet Phase 2 will also include a token swap to the native ONE token, the staking smart contract, and token transfers.
The use of many nodes makes Harmony one of the most decentralized blockchain platforms.
PROOF OF STAKE SHARDING
Harmony uses an adaptive threshold Proof Of Stake mechanism to elect validators based on staking ability. Basically, the more Harmony ONE tokens one holds, the more voting shares they possess.
The mechanism automatically adjusts based on the volume of total staking in a way that prevents malicious stakers from concentrating their power on a single shard. The threshold is however low enough that small stakers can still participate in the network and earn rewards.
Harmony uses a random generation protocol for its sharding process. It combines 2 cryptographic functions, a verifiable random function and a verifiable delay function(epoch). This gives random numbers to shards and helps to safeguard against the actions of bad actors on the network.
Harmony supports zero-knowledge proof while allowing users to share data.
IS SHARDED NETWORK IMMUNE TO ATTACK?
No, a sharded network while harder to take over, can still be corrupted if the malicious parties are not checkmated. Taking over a sharded network requires a 1% shard attack so Security is maintained by keeping malicious stakers to less than 1/3 of the voting shares in any shard.
Epochs: Sharding Time Intervals
On the Harmony network, sharding conditions are changed at intervals. This further randomizes the shards handling different transactions and increases security. These time intervals are called Epochs.
The Beacon Chain is a multi-purpose central component of the Harmony blockchain. The main function of the Beacon Chain is to transmit communication between shards. It is uniquely responsible for generating the random numbers that influence which validators are assigned to which shards. It is also responsible for accepting validator stakes.
The Shards in Harmony network are designed to function both as an individual unit and as part of the network. In other words, each shard chain maintains its own account state. A user can conduct different transactions on different shards. Everything is randomized for security.
APPLICATION OF HARMONY
Harmony is a vast database that can be utilized for various concepts. This include, but are not limited to
- Blockchain-based Games
- Community and Registry
- Decentralized Exchanges
- Reverse ICO
The Harmony blockchain is very scalable and can be easily integrated into any infrastructure. Harmony was designed to be compatible even with projects built on other blockchains such as Ethereum.
TESTING THE HARMONY BLOCKCHAIN
As stated earlier, there are many projects promising a lot but delivering little. Harmony is not one of them.
Remember Cryptokitties? The first Ethereum based game entailed grooming and training digital cats and was a crowd favorite. The problem? It took too much bandwidth and in no time it clogged the network. This was because Ethereum was not designed to be scalable and couldn't handle all the transaction requests.
Harmony has now partnered with the company behind Cryptokitties (Animoca) to collaborate on the development of a new ecosystem for crypto collectibles!
Pangea is as a decentralized jurisdiction on which Voluntary Nations can be created, joined and lived-in. As you would expect this would require a massive database as well as resources and security. Harmony is uniquely capable of handling such requests.
Within the first 24 hours the initiative had the following:
1. 138 Nodes up & running already
2. 1283 Signups
3. 77 Countries
4. 356 Keys Downloaded
Harmony was successfully vetted by the Binance panel and the Harmony (ONE) IEO was conducted on Binance launchpad on May 29th, 2019. The custom token (ONE) is now available for trading on Binance DEX.
The Harmony team consists of experts in both business and engineering. The roster is an impressive team who have extensive experience in academia and industry.
You can also reach them on their social media channels
Harmony Twitter | Harmony Instagram | Harmony LinkedIn | Harmony Medium | Harmony Telegram
DISCLAIMER: The information contained within this post shall not be taken as financial advice. I am not a financial advisor and none of your investing should be carried out based on any information presented here. You can lose all of your money by not investing wisely. The above information is for educational and awareness purposes only. Kindly Endeavor to DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH.