The Semantics Of The Bitcoin Layers

The Semantics Of The Bitcoin Layer.

The premise of a layer comes from two worlds, each of which uses a layered ability in an even manner: the enviornment of cash, and the enviornment of networks. In this text we will instant detect both worlds. After the thought of layers has been established, we will negate the layered framework to Bitcoin, which is a special and original hybrid of both cash and technology. We are able to introduce the nuance of layers, and propose that distinction in language is feeble within the absence of redefining ancient context or the usage of an fully pretty a few nomenclature.

Layers A La Moneys, Historically

Monetary layers contain emerged many times within the future of the direction of history for a quantity of causes. Most seriously, layers happen as a mechanism to ease the transfer of cash from one celebration to 1 more.

Allow us to take notice of the U.S. dollar within the future of the pre-1971 era. Every gold and silver were prison gentle and might perhaps perhaps very well be feeble to form transactions. These treasured metals must no longer without complications divisible and contain pretty a few physical characteristics that form them undesirable to make utilize of in day-to-day transactions, such as ease of transport. That’s the reason, a 2d monetary layer emerged: one by which the monetary institution held gold deposits to your behalf, and supplied you with an IOU conceal representing that deposit. This conceal would be redeemable for the gold, and the bearer of this conceal has swear to the gold deposit.

In inform of transacting with gold, americans would now transact with the notes representing the gold. As we would peep later in history, this methodology used to be rife with corruption. Right here is the anecdote of the U.S. dollar and the supreme failure of the gold typical. For an in-depth dive into the enviornment of industrial layers, I imply reading Nik Bhatia’s “Layered Money“.

Layers A La Networks, Historically

The digital world brought with it the emergence of digital networks — most seriously, the web. The web as all americans is aware of it and put it to use nowadays is a layered structure known as the Web Protocol Suite, or TCP/IP for rapid.

A layered protocol ability enables us to attain consensus and spoil very complicated tips down into separate parts. It furthermore supplied interoperability such that terminate users can trail in with their like products or instrument.

Layers A La Bitcoin

Conversations about applying the layered framework to Bitcoin most incessantly terminate with shrimp to no consensus, as Bitcoin distorts and blurs primitive intuitions. This distortion stems from Bitcoin being both a cash and a community, each of which, historically, has a layered framework that is trip from the pretty a few. Most disagreements about bitcoin layers are due to the proponents talking honest past each pretty a few.

Let’s start with some typical ground, the keep apart most folks would agree: Bitcoin Layer 1. The Bitcoin protocol is enforced by the operation of fleshy nodes. These nodes store the whole Bitcoin blockchain and validate the legitimacy of transactions that miners include in blocks. Most incessantly, the first layer of Bitcoin is the field of interactions that falls within the future of the fleshy node enforced protocol: cryptographic ownership of a UTXO, a transaction from take care of A to address B, the block prime of the present block, and so forth. Straightforward, honest? That’s for the reason that first layer of Bitcoin suits cleanly within both the Layer 1 monetary application and the Layer 1 technological application frameworks. They reconcile with each pretty a few fully.

The Bitcoin Protocol:

Monetary Layer 1: Check

Network Layer 1: Check

“The fleshy node enforced protocol is the Layer 1 of Bitcoin”: Check

As we continue on to the 2d layer of Bitcoin, it is serious to esteem why we want a layered ability within the first inform. All the pieces in existence has alternate-offs, collectively with Bitcoin. The Bitcoin protocol is optimized for both dentralization and security on its first layer, which is done thru restricted block house and ten minute block intervals. These serious parameters severely throttle the quantity of transactions that the Bitcoin blockchain can direction of, which is within the ballpark of 5 to seven transactions per 2d. Nonetheless, these parameters enable for more americans to bustle a Bitcoin fleshy node (decentralization) moreover to enabling a aggressive fee market for transaction confirmation (security). For these causes, scaling Bitcoin to billions of users on the depraved layer is no longer likely. The Bitcoin blockchain will be the worldwide settlement layer feeble by americans, banks, and companies prepared to reduction a few minutes and pay an on-chain fee for last settlement. The Layer 1 blockchain will be feeble for finality, while pretty a few layers will be feeble for pretty a few capabilities, such as on a regular basis transactions (a coffee being the basic example).

Having mentioned that, it is efficacious to explicitly clarify what resolution a layer is offering to the Bitcoin community. Most incessantly, layers strive to treatment the restricted transaction ability of BTC on the first blockchain, as described above. Right here is to no longer deliver that some layers might perhaps perhaps no longer focal point on pretty a few complications (such as privacy), but for simplicity and the scope of this writing, we will witness layers with transaction scalability capabilities.

In theory, the ability of fixing transaction scalability is pretty straightforward: many transactions shall be embedded within one on-chain (Layer 1) transaction. We lock some BTC away, depart it round to each pretty a few indefinitely, then throw it reduction to the mainchain for settlement. On the coronary heart of it, here’s a Layer 2 Bitcoin application. It is now an appropriate time to introduce the thought of “on-chain” and “off-chain” transactions, which some would argue is more trip than the usage of the jargon of layers and all of the semantic baggage that incorporates it. Place simply, an on-chain transaction is any transaction that occurs on the Bitcoin blockchain (I send some BTC to a BTC take care of that you provide me), while an off-chain transaction is any transaction that occurs off the Bitcoin blockchain (I send “IOU” BTC steadiness from my Money App anecdote to your Money App anecdote). By definition, all Layer 2 alternatives on Bitcoin form utilize of off-chain transactions as they’re no longer within the scope of the fleshy node enforced protocol.

A Monetary Layer Relationship To Bitcoin:

By following the ancient thought of a monetary layer, we will clarify a Bitcoin monetary Layer 2 as any invent of off-chain interaction that transfers a steadiness of BTC from one entity to 1 more. The transfer of a BTC steadiness can happen within the invent of an IOU, or within the invent of precise ownership. This more or less monetary Layer 2 interaction can happen in quite a lot of forms: thru a third celebration, thru the transfer of a non-public key, and even notion-to-notion thru a community Layer 2 (mentioned later). The recipient of this interaction has a swear to that quantity of BTC on-chain, but doesn’t receive irregular ownership to the actual on-chain BTC till a separate on-chain transaction occurs.

It is serious to conceal that no longer all monetary layers are created equal. They approach on a spectrum of trustlessness, and plenty are fully antithetical to the ethos of Bitcoin. Even supposing we might perhaps perhaps no longer esteem it, the precedent of industrial layers has been established by history and we would must redefine ancient and semantic context to preserve some distance from Bitcoin’s affiliation with monetary layers. Alternatively, we might perhaps perhaps preserve some distance from the thought of industrial layers and utilize pretty a few nomenclature fully.

A Network Layer Relationship To Bitcoin:

By following the ancient thought of a community layer, we will clarify a Bitcoin community Layer 2 as an interoperable protocol that is cryptographically pegged to the mainchain in a trustless manner. Being that the Bitcoin protocol forms a community, it is understandable that a community layer ability would be feeble to enable a extensive quantity of operations. A transaction scalability functionality would be a first-rate application for a community Layer 2 on Bitcoin. This might pork up aspects of Bitcoin without compromising any optimizations of the first layer. Any invent of transaction scalability community layer would furthermore be thought to be a monetary layer by its very nature of facilitating transactions off-chain.

What we in fact take notice of a community layer on Bitcoin goes to be a chunk controversial, but it is price exploring and defining. For starters, a community layer desires to be a protocol that is interoperable with the Layer 1 Bitcoin protocol. Secondly, a community layer on Bitcoin respects all of the sovereign aspects of Bitcoin’s Layer 1 protocol. This entails its notion-to-notion nature, and its disintermediated verifiability. A community layer must never form utilize of IOUs in any invent, as asking for to redeem BTC would invalidate the non-custodial nature of Bitcoin. For now, these qualifications are sufficient.

Combining Concepts:

There might be a clear and primary distinction to form when relating to a layer on Bitcoin. I propose that one thing be referred to simply as “a layer” most intriguing if the criteria for a community layer is met. In every other case, it is moral a monetary layer and must soundless be known as its application title (ie. Money App), or explicitly acknowledged to be a monetary layer within the ancient context of the phrases. The trigger of here’s that the ancient context of industrial layers are in contradiction with the Bitcoin ethos, and conflating the two sets a substandard priority of language.

I’ve no longer contain we must soundless redefine language and ancient context to suit our agenda. For that reason, we desires to be precise in our phrases or form a original nomenclature fully. Even supposing it might perhaps perhaps perhaps be technically appropriate to refer to a monetary layer as a layer of Bitcoin, I contain it to be a harmful precedent. Now we contain got viewed the gold typical fail thru a monetary layered framework, and applying this identical framework to Bitcoin would undermine the sovereignty that Bitcoin permits.

Let’s be wide awake of both the monetary and community layered aspects and stroll thru some precise examples:

A Bitcoin Alternate:

A Bitcoin Alternate is a custodial service which enables users to alternate fiat for BTC. These exchanges on the whole enable users to transfer “IOU” BTC balances to pretty a few users. Specifically, this entails Money App, Coinbase, Venmo, and plenty others.

The Bitcoin Exchanges:

Monetary Layer 2: Check

Network Layer 2: NO

“Exchanges are a Layer 2 of Bitcoin”: NO

The Liquid Network:

Liquid is a federated sidechain that operates independently but pegged to Bitcoin. The Liquid Network enables the basic public to transfer BTC to L-BTC (the Liquid Network native asset), but requires functionary people to approve transfers of L-BTC reduction to BTC. As soon as an particular particular person has L-BTC, they might be able to transfer it to pretty a few americans the usage of the Liquid Network. From the perspective of Bitcoin, here’s an off-chain transaction, with L-BTC performing as “IOU” BTC.

The Liquid Network:

Monetary Layer 2: Check

Network Layer 2: NO

“The Liquid Network is a Layer 2 of Bitcoin”: NO

The Lightning Network:

The Lightning Network is the finest layered application mentioned thus some distance that meets the criteria of being a Bitcoin community layer. Lightning enables users to withhold cryptographic ownership of the BTC they are interacting with, and enables users to redeem an on-chain UTXO without the approval of any third events. The Lightning Network makes utilize of a multi-signature and channel essentially based operation schema, which is largely beyond the scope of this text. For now, it is moral primary to know that the Lightning Network is trustless and inform-to-notion.

The Lightning Network:

Monetary Layer 2: Check

Network Layer 2: Check

“The Lightning Network is a Layer 2 of Bitcoin”: Check


There might be a ancient precedent for layers in both cash and networks. Bitcoin is peculiar in that it is both a cash and a community, which manner it has trip cash and community layers that are most incessantly at odds with each pretty a few. I propose that one thing be known as a “layer of Bitcoin” most intriguing if it meets the criteria for a community layer. If most intriguing the cash layer framework criteria is met, the application in seek data from must soundless be referred to by title, or explicitly essential to most intriguing be a monetary layer within the ancient context of the phrases.

I must conceal that I am no longer looking out to mandate speech or swear you what you can not swear. I moral contain this nuance to be primary, as we’re looking out to flee the screw ups of all cash that got here sooner than Bitcoin. Ought to you chanced on what I’ve written to be convincing, then be contented to affix me!

Ought to you are going to contain made it this some distance I am hoping that my perspective used to be trip and coherent. I’m particular this whole article might perhaps perhaps were summarized in a few tweets, but I needed to negate all of the nuance that I contain this topic deserves. Invent you accept as true with the premise? Disagree with the premise? Let me know what the fis a layer on twitter @thefuckisalommy. Cheers.




Right here is a visitor put up by Lommy. Opinions expressed are fully their like and do not have any longer essentially mediate these of BTC, Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.

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