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A privacy-preserving decentralized application network
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README.md

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Elixium

Elixium is a decentralized application network built for developers; its a Proof of Work blockchain that allows engineers to write programs that run on the chain. Right now, we're very early in our development phase, so it's a great time to get involved if you want to sway the direction of the project. We're completely open source and community driven, and we aim to continue being that way -- decentralized even within the development team. Check out the Contribution Guide to get started with contributing to Elixium. If you have any trouble getting set up or just want to join in with our development discussion, join our Telegram Group. The Elixium Development Wiki is a great place to get familiarized with Elixium's codebase.

What we're aiming to solve

One of the biggest issues in the blockchain ecosystem right now is the high barrier to entry for engineers who want to use the technology, whether its to create a decentralized application or just to interface with the blockchain. This can be attributed to many different things, but the most pressing reason is that language support in the ecosystem is very poor. In order for an engineer to create a decentralized application or smart contract, they need to either learn a language that is specifically created for smart contracting or use a predetermined language that they might not already know. The fact of the matter is that learning a new language can take days or even weeks, and engineers are very excited about blockchain but don't want to invest weeks of their time learning a new toolset for a system that might not exist in a few years (e.g. learning Solidity to create Ethereum dApps), since the ecosystem is so rapidly evolving.

Elixium mitigates this barrier to entry by employing language agnostic smart contracts -- decentralized applications that can be written in potentially any language. Engineers will no longer be tied down to learning a new language like Solidity or migrating to a language like Javascript, they'll be able to use their existing toolset and create decentralized applications with any language that compiles to WebAssembly. They'll be able to use their C, C++, Python, Go, and any other language they're already familiar with -- all they have to do is learn a new API to interact with the chain.

A few other goodies

  • Smooth token emission similar to the CryptoNote token emission algorithm
  • Memory-hardened PoW algorithm that discourages the usage of FPGA/ASICs
  • Journalized sharding (more info here)
  • TCP-layer zero knowledge peer authentication for secure communication
  • Low target block solve time

Private transactions

We're going to be the first (that we're aware of) blockchain that strictly enforces zkSNARKS technology in it's core. Other networks default to insecure / non-private transactions and some allow nodes to opt into secure transactions. Our approach is to only allow private transactions via zero knowledge proofs -- it's part of our consensus mechanism. We're still researching this, but we're looking at using Hyrax, a zero knowledge protocol that doesn't need a trusted setup.

Why Elixir?

Elixir is a language built with Erlang, and Erlang powers the entire telecom industry. This is the language that supports the infrastructure of our mobile phone networks. It was built by a company called Ericcson in 1986 for the purposes of being distributed, fault tolerant, and to have support for uninterruptable applications. Erlang was reported to have been used in production systems with an uptime of 9 nines, which is a maximum downtime of 32 milliseconds per year. This is a great fit for blockchain, as it is a system that needs to be extremely fault tolerant and available.

Concurrency is at the core of the language - processes are cheap and you can run hundreds of thousands to even millions of processes easily. This allows for huge performance improvements and parallelization. Erlang has built in error containment and fault tolerance. It has a really cool feature called a Supervisor, which automatically restarts failed processes. Erlang also features hot code swapping functionality -- allowing the software to be updated without interrupting the program. This makes writing distributed applications easy.

Because of Erlang's large support for concurrency, Elixium is able to mitigate pain points in blockchain by massively parallelizing things like transaction processing. Whenever a new transaction comes in, it's cheap and easy to spin up a separate process to validate and relay that transaction.

Using hot code swapping, Elixium reduces friction from nodes whenever a new version is released. Rather than a maintainer of a node needing to take down that node, download a patch, run the update, and then start the node back up, maintainers can choose to have their nodes updated on the fly. This reduces the chances of forks happening on the chain whenever a new patch is released.

As a result of the fault tolerance built into Erlang, and by extension Elixir, Elixium is able to have self-healing nodes. If a node encounters an error during runtime, rather than crashing and waiting for the maintainer of the node to notice and restart the node, it is able to restart itself and not lose context of its current operations, which adds to the total uptime and security of the overall network.

Blockchain technology in it's current state is written mostly in C or C-like languages, leaving development communities outside of this umbrella of languages lacking in their support for the technology. By writing a blockchain in Elixir we hope to accomplish a few things:

  1. Expand the blockchain development community into new languages and provide a reference to those who are more comfortable in Elixir
  2. Take advantages of the insane speed of Elixir to allow for a faster peer-to-peer network.
  3. Once again taking advantage of the performance of Elixir, allow for the development of decentralized apps within the Elixir community.

This code is licensed under the MIT License, which means anyone can use it to do anything they want.

Developer Setup

This is the core repo for the Elixium blockchain. Elixium is split up into a few different repositories based on their functionality, as follows:

  • Elixium Core (this repository) A library housing all of the implementation functions and algorithms of Elixium
  • Elixium Miner Pulls in the core library as a dependency and uses functionality in the core to facilitate peer-to-peer connections, block/transaction validation, and mining.
  • Elixium Node Almost exactly the same as the miner except that no mining happens. Miner and node are separate for now but are very likely to become one project because of all of their similarities.
  • Elixium Wallet Aims to be an SPV implementation as a desktop wallet. Is currently only a CLI as the main focus is currently on developing the core and network.

Because Elixium Core is a library that other projects in the Elixium ecosystem pull in as a dependency, the easiest way to update / test the core is by pulling down either the miner repo or the node repo and using them to call functions defined in the core. Check the Developer Setup Guide for detailed step-by-step instructions on how to do this.

Documentation for core can be found both in the codebase itself and on Hexdocs.

If you want to interact with strictly with core, it's possible (although much more tedious) by using the test suite or the Elixir interactive shell. To do this, run mix deps.get to fetch any dependencies needed to run Elixium. After downloading all dependencies, run mix compile to compile the Elixir code. To run the test suite, run mix test. In order to play around with Elixium and it's methods in an interactive shell, run iex -S mix.

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