The Topology of Bitcoin’s Lightning Network
Bitcoin’s Lightning Network has been carefully studied by Hungarian researcher István András Seres. Launched to Bitcoin’s mainnet in 2018, the network provides two-way peer-to-peer payment channels that allow quick and inexpensive micro-transactions to be sent on a secondary layer without broadcasting to the Bitcoin blockchain.
István studies Lightning Network topology at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. He writes:
When we talk about the security of Bitcoin, we usually look at the subject from the perspective of cryptography or economics. However, Bitcoin is also a computer network, and therefore can be studied from a network scientific angle. Although the connections on Bitcoin’s network layer — Layer 0 — are deliberately disguised and difficult to map topologically, the features of the Lightning Network, Layer-2, is public and visible to anyone.
Bitcoin’s Lightning Network allows transactions to be sent and received with negligible fees and settled instantly on a global scale. In order to use this network, funds have to be locked into payment channels on the Bitcoin blockchain — Layer 1, for subsequent use on the Lightning Network — Layer 2. Lightning is a system of payment channels that enable a user to efficiently, securely and privately route payments across the whole network even when only a few payment channels are actually operational.
István’s research covers the unique structure of Lightning and show how its current topology can be enhanced in order to improve the network’s security and to allow it to live up to its tremendous potential.
István is a researcher at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary with a passion for technology, and especially cryptography and cryptocurrencies. His area of focus is in the security and privacy aspects of cryptocurrencies. He looks forward to a future in which user-friendly, secure, scalable, borderless, and permissionless cryptocurrencies can be used by the masses. When he isn’t reading or writing papers, he competes on the football field and plays the clarinet.
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