A Beginner’s Guide to Cross-Chain Computations
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A Beginner’s Guide to Cross-Chain Computations

October 21, 2020      Deepshikha Gupta

There are multiple challenges yet to overcome scalability and interoperability in the blockchain. The problem of interoperability in the blockchain still exists despite the advancements in complicated technologies. However, Cross-chain computations have emerged as a part of the solution to the scalability problem.

Cross-chain computations are the smart contracts that provide interoperability between two relatively interdependent blockchains. In simple words, it allows blockchains to speak to each other. The limitations of a single chain can be avoided with a cross-chain. So let’s get started with the structure of cross-chain computations. And, see how this technology is going to help in communicating blockchains built in a standardized way.

Classification of Cross-Chain Computations

The cross-chain computations mechanism allows the blockchains to verify the information, and transact across multiple chains. This enables data and assets to move between them directly without any third party in between. 

Broadly it is classified into five major approaches:

1. Atomic swap

An atomic swap is not a true form of cross chains because it restricts the chains to communicate with each other. It enables trade using an intermediary in between the cross chains. 

Here one can only trade from one cryptocurrency with another using peer to peer technology. 

2. Stateless SPVs

Stateless SPVs are the original talk and stride that approximates the finality of the transaction based on its accumulated difficulty. Instead of sorting headers date-wise, Stateless SPVs computes the cumulative difficulty of the set of headers.

3. Relays
block diagram representing BTC relay

Relays allow the block header to be verified on to the other blockchains. Several approaches exist in the relays itself. Ranging from verifying specific headers on-demand to verifying the entire history of the chain. 

Block headers are used to identify a particular block on the blockchain. These are used to store information related to transactions that occur on a blockchain network. Block headers consist of three sets of block metadata that contain information about the other data. The first set contains information about other data, while the second set relates to the mining competition. Mining competition here implies to the difficulty level. Lastly, the third set Merkle tree root, a data structure used to summarize all the transactions in the block in an efficient manner. 

4. Merged Consensus

Merged consensus allows two-way interoperability between any two chains by using the relay chain.

5. Federations

Federations allow confirmation of events of one chain to another. Although, the whole mechanism is powerful with the only limitation to trust a third party. 

Summa, a provider of cross-chain architecture and interoperability solutions, led by a team of blockchain experts, has founded, advised, and contributed to many of the most prominent projects in the space.  

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Deepshikha Gupta
Deepshikha Gupta

A student from a technical background, Deepshikha found Bitcoin in 2020 and has been an evangelist ever since. A B.Tech turned into a full-time crypto-writer, she tries to bridge the gap that currently exists between the crypto world and people from non-technical backgrounds, through her simplistic yet effective form of writing. She finds that her writing for cryptocurrencies can redefine the way the audience interacts with the crypto space.