Directed Acyclic Graph could be considered the future of blockchain technology (blockchain 3.0).
For those of you who have been in the Crypto game, you probably have a decent understanding of blockchain technology, it is the first and – at the moment – the most used type of technology in the industry.
However (at the risk of you reading this in the voice of Lawrence Fishburne), what if I told you there is more to crypto technology than The Hallowed Blockchain? Furthermore, what if I told you that Morpheus never actually said those words in The Matrix? Fascinating huh?
False movie references aside, There are more ways than one to create a secure distributed ledger. One of the most recent and promising ways of doing this is using a Directed Acyclic Graph, or DAG.
Wait… What? Acyclic… What?
What The Heck is a Directed Acyclic Graph?
If you’re not in the know, that’s a completely natural reaction!
Before we delve into the specifics, I want to give you a really basic idea of what a typical blockchain is.
All a block turns out to be is a “package” or blocks of transactions with a “passkey” in the front and back.
The key in the back matches the key in the front of the block behind it, and the key in the front of that block matches the key in the back of the block ahead of it, making a nice, pretty little “chain” of blocks that turns out to be VERY cryptographically secure and hard to falsify, and can be copied and verified by a bunch of different computers in a network all over the world.
That being said, the blocks follow in line, one after the other without anybody cutting into the line like that really nasty kid named Johnny Milsap from the 3rd grade who would ALWAYS get in front of you and take the last chocolate milk.
A Directed Acyclic Graph is different. Instead of using the traditional block structure which typically produces only one block at a time, a Directed Acyclic Graph has transactions verified between nodes, which are then able to proceed forward in the ledger.
Over time, instead of looking like a chain (with branches and such), it resembles more of a “web” or well… “graph”. In math, a graph is basically a set of nodes, or “vertices” with connections between them.
For example, a directed graph that cycles back on itself would look something like this:
This is what’s specifically called a directed cyclic graph. You could imagine something like three players standing in a triangle and throwing a ball to one another in a particular direction.
Also, you could look at it like three players in a board game where the turns cycle around in one direction, always reaching the place it started.
Having tutored math for several years, I know the very mention of the word is likely to make a lot of folks eyes glaze over.
Bear with me; we are nearly there. I have explained what a directed cyclic graph is, and that seems pretty straightforward, right?
Now consider a directed graph that has no cycles. Basically, the graph moves “forward” as more nodes are added, and you could say, go from one previous node to a more recent one with no issues.
However, you cannot “loop” back to a previous node.
An intuitive way to visualize this is a downhill river. The water is flowing one direction and additional smaller streams might come into contact with it down the line and add its downhill flow to this river. As it goes on, the flow gets larger and stronger.
Okay, so Now I Know What a Directed Acyclic Graph is. Why The Heck Do I Care?
In traditional blockchains and their associated protocols, it is often the case that transactions are verified by “looping back” on the previous transactions.
Miners are primarily the ones that verify the transactions in the Proof of Work (PoW) system like bitcoin.
This leads to an increase in transaction times as the chain carries on, which also increases in size over time.
In a Directed Acyclic Graph, previous transactions are verified by others that come before it.
DAG protocols only require you to verify two transactions from the nodes around you in order to add one, which also saves time and prevents the dreaded “double spending” problem, where someone could potentially apply the amount of money they have to the ledger twice! That would be bad.
Here’s the mind-blowing part about DAG; since every node is essentially its own “miner” so to speak, it verifies transactions swiftly and as a result completely avoids the traditional fees associated with verification.
This makes a cryptocurrency based on a Directed Acyclic Graph capable of being fee-less!
Imagine being able to send money anywhere at any time quickly, efficiently, and without having to pay money to do it.
That’s the dream here, and several cryptocurrencies such as Nano and its “fork” Banano, allow you to send them to others without ever incurring a fee. It’s beautiful!
There’s also the issue of scaling. Remember how I told you that traditional blockchains tend to increase demands in computation power and size?
DAGs significantly reduce that required infrastructure, since essentially everyone on the network verifies transactions.
The more nodes you add, the more efficient and powerful the DAG crypto becomes. That’s a HUGE asset to a crypto that’s trying to scale.
Here’s a REALLY interesting thing about DAG; this in many ways is probably the most “decentralized” a network can get.
Instead of having big ol’ miners with their gigantic infrastructure verifying transactions and solving hashes, you have basically the whole network doing the job.
It splits the work up remarkably well, where even the “decentralization” of PoW protocols seems centralized in comparison.
You don’t have to worry about the network slowing down because miners are capitulating, or super long transaction times because your network only produces one block of transactions every X minutes or so.
You can have your transaction verified and ready to go in literally seconds.
As a COMPLETELY NEUTRAL example, take Banano. You can send and receive banano (in most cases) less than thirty seconds.
I have done this time and time again through my own Kalium wallet, and it’s remarkable.
Personal Outlook on The Technology.
While I would never dream of you taking this as financial advice (BECAUSE IT IS NOT. DON’T LISTEN TO ME. WELL, LISTEN JUST A BIT MORE), I have this intuition that DAG-based cryptocurrencies are going to be the next big thing.
Traditional PoW blockchains were the grandaddies, Proof of Stake was the “2.0” blockchain, and any Cryptocurrency employing a Directed Acyclic Graph as its distributed ledger should have a great advantage just in the time and resources it saves its users.
I’ve heard it called the “Blockchain 3.0” and it is for a good reason.
The scalability alone will make this the next-generation tech in the crypto space, and it’s crazy to think that it only popped up about 5 years ago.
For more information on the specific implementations, I highly recommend you look into IOTA, Byteball, and Nano (and well, Banano. They’re the DogeCoin of DAG and their community will keep you in stitches).
Thank you for reading. Until next time, keep your eyes on the market and Screw Johnny Milsap, the damn thief.