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Mimblewimble Progress Update Thread - July

July Progress:

The focus this month was on the Initial Block Download. Before I can detail the progress made, I need to give some background info for those not intimately familiar with mimblewimble.

The biggest innovation behind mimblewimble is that, in order to verify the chain, you just need to know all of the unspent coins/outputs, and a small part of each transaction called the “Kernel.” These 2 things together are called the “chain state.”

In bitcoin/litecoin, each block header uses a merkle tree to commit to only the transactions in that block. Since we don’t want to require everyone to download all old mimblewimble blocks, or to know about all old, spent outputs, we use a different structure to commit to the transactions. Each mimblewimble header commits to the root of 2 different Merkle Mountain Ranges(MMRs). One represents all historical kernels up to that block, and the other represents all historical outputs/coins. Merkle Mountain Ranges are a different sort of tree that supports “pruning”, which means we can verify the root of the structure without knowing all of its members (called leaves). For an in-depth look at how this works, I recommend reading https://github.com/mimblewimble/grin/blob/master/doc/mmr.md

Since old blocks don’t need to be downloaded, Initial State Download (ISD) is a more accurate term for the initial sync process that I worked on this month. To facilitate the ISD I ended up defining the following P2P messages:

GETMWSTATE - This simply consists of the hash of a header sometime in the recent past. We’ll call this the “horizon” header. A new node, after syncing most of the canonical (non-mimblewimble) blocks in the chain, sends this message to a single peer, requesting the mimblewimble chain state at the time of that block. MWSTATE - The response to a GETMWSTATE message. This contains the entire chain state, which is everything you need to validate the extension chain up to the point of t...
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