Accumulate’s Key Innovations

Written by Drew Mailen

On May 13, 2022

Factom launched in April 2015, around the same time as Ethereum. When it first became available on exchanges, the Factom token demanded a similar asking price as ETH. Yet, despite media comparisons that may have implied competition, the interactions were positive. Ethereum Founder Vitalik Buterin was asked for his opinion on Factom when it first came online and he peer-reviewed the Factom white paper. 

In the years following, Factom evolved through innovative developments and the buildout of an ecosystem. Factom secured partnerships with the Gates Foundation, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Energy. The momentum surrounding Factom’s launch and the build-out of its core infrastructure is resounding and what was developed has an everlasting legacy to this day. 

Some of Factom’s early core infrastructure is still used across the entire industry.  Factom created the precursor to modern-day SegWit. Factom introduced anchoring transactions onto Layer 1 blockchains and it was the first protocol with a dual-token model. Although Factom’s name will change, the innovations live on.  

A validator-elected upgrade of the Factom Protocol to Accumulate augments some of Factom’s core features in an entirely new architecture that addresses new use cases across various industries. Parts of the world-class engineering group from Factom continue to work on Accumulate with the upcoming hard fork. 

Accumulate includes several key innovations.

Accumulate Key Innovations: 

  • Identity Paradigm 
  • Parallel Processing 
  • Synthetic Transactions
  • Key Management 
  • Scratch Accounts 

Identity Paradigm: Accumulate has centered its protocol around Accumulate Digital Identities (ADIs). In Bitcoin, transactions are hashed and then put into a Merkle tree. The tree’s hash is put inside a block, and a blockchain is created together with the roots from other tree hashes. ADIs are independent identities that define their own state, and they are treated like independent blockchains.

Each ADI is distributed across Tendermint networks. These networks, referred to as Block Validator Networks (BVNs), enable Accumulate to scale and maintain a high transaction throughput. ADIs are user-friendly and application-friendly, making them an essential addition to the web3 ecosystem.

Parallel Processing: Every Accumulate ADI is assigned to a BVN. Every BVN is a network of Tendermint nodes, and each BVN can process transactions for thousands of accounts. If a greater scale for the network is needed, then more BVNs can be added. At launch, Accumulate can handle about 75,000 TPS. However, Accumulate can scale to millions of TPS by adding more BVNs. The end result of parallel processing is fast transaction finality and short block times.

Synthetic Transactions: Transactions generated by the protocol in response to user-generated transactions are referred to as synthetic transactions. These transactions are sent to the BVN that manages the destination ADI after it leaves the source ADI. A synthetic transaction is sent each time ADIs interact with another ADI. An ADI doesn’t have to query a BVN node to verify the balance of an ADI; this fact allows the network to be indefinitely scalable.  

Every ADI has its own state and is its own blockchain, a layout that makes Accumulate sharded by design. Transactions routed to an ADI must be processed independently of other ADIs in a network. Communication between BVNs becomes tough to manage due to coordination issues when multiple ADIs are involved in a transaction. Accumulate’s solution is to self-generate additional transactions that perform settlement within an ADI, thus improving the communication scenario. 

Scratch Accounts: This is a way to compress data by limiting the data’s availability. If an ADI’s owner creates a Scratch Account, all the transaction hashes belonging to the account will be pruned at 2-week intervals (unless the owner decides to store the data off-chain). While transaction hashes are pruned, the root hashes are saved on-chain. These accounts provide validation proof without putting too much stress on the blockchain. Scratch Accounts ultimately reduce the cost of using the blockchain for consensus building.

Key Management: Commonly, an organization’s personnel has a hierarchy of different levels of capabilities, access levels, and administrative privileges. A Key Book is a set of Key Pages that are structured by priority, and a Key Page outlines what keys are required to validate a transaction. Accumulate can reproduce this common corporate framework on a blockchain using ADIs with Key Books to define access control. Key Books define these capabilities and access control, such as which ADI in an organization’s Key Book has password changing capability or which ADI has certain decision-making authority.  

Learn more about these Accumulate Key Innovations in the whitepaper and this recent YouTube video:

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