Bitcoin Cash Leading Dev Announces Bitcoin ABC is “Moving Forward with the Grasberg DAA”

TL;DR: Amaury Séchet, lead developer for Bitcoin Cash (BCH) protocol implementation Bitcoin ABC, announced his team is “moving forward with the Grasberg DAA.” It’s an answer to increasing levels of discussion and debate regarding the DAA (difficulty adjustment algorithm) in recent weeks, notably led by Bitcoin mining veteran and longtime developer Jonathan Toomim and his proposed change. 

Bitcoin ABC is “Moving Forward with the Grasberg DAA”

“The Grasberg DAA,” Amaury Séchet insisted, “aims to solve 3 main problems existing right now on the Bitcoin Cash blockchain: Ensure more consistent block production, which will translate into more reliable confirmation times for users, and will also reduce occurrences in which users run into per-block limits. Ensure that steady miners get close to optimal profitability vs alternative mining strategies. Ensure that the emission of coins follows a predictable schedule.”

As Bitcoin Cash heads into its third anniversary on August 1st, the DAA has been a consistent bugaboo for the project. As is, it allows hash to oscillate and move away from BCH, potentially weakening its security model among other consequences. While DAA discussion has been ongoing, it was over the last few weeks that specifics began to arise. Developers such as Jacob Elisosoff, Tom Harding, Scott Roberts, and Jonathan Toomim participated in a livestream to hammer out the issues involved, for example.

Toomim’s own proposal received vigorous analysis from Stamp Chat’s Shammah Chancellor. Not too long after, The Future of Bitcoin Cash group hosted yet another livestream with a dozen developers all focused on the DAA (which included both Toomim and Séchet, among others). There was even a survey done with the Chinese BCH community about their feelings on the DAA. A recent explainer video also emerged.

Drift Correction Mechanism

Séchet and Bitcoin ABC, however, found issues with Toomim’s proposal such as it was, ultimately preferring Grasberg. The advantages, according to Séchet, are that Grasberg is “working on the work required to produce a block rather than the target,” and as Bitcoin Cash is not a new chain but in fact uses its reference point as the Genesis Block, “Choosing a reference point other than the genesis block is effectively equivalent to redefining the coin emission policy, which is a big NO.”

As such, “Grasberg includes a drift correction mechanism” which will hopefully mitigate against Bitcoin Cash’s experiencing “significant drift in the past.” Séchet contrasts Grasberg with Toomim’s preference for ASERT, appearing to argue Grasberg is less of a drastic overhaul more in line with where the BCH chain is now. “Some will find that this mechanism breaks the mathematical beauty of ASERT and they’d be correct,” he acknowledged. “Unfortunately, ASERT in its absolute form using the genesis block as reference would jack up the difficulty so high due to pre-existing drift that it is a complete non-starter.”

Séchet also acknowledged how the “community has shown great interest in improving the DAA. While there is a lot of discussion around the DAA, no concrete proposal has reached ABC at the time of this writing, which does not leave us with sufficient time to review adequately, simulate and test, and get feedback addressed before the feature freeze on August 15th,” lines which arguably comprised the most controversial part of his post.

Upcoming DAA Meeting

Bitcoin Cash Node (BCHN) lead maintainer “freetrader” took issue with Séchet’s characterization of “no concrete proposal” having reached ABC. “False: the concrete proposal (with code) of an integer-approximation ASERT by Jonathan Toomim reached ABC (and everyone else) and was discussed in the last DAA meeting,” freetrader insisted in comments on read.cash. And as for Toomim’s proposal being “more complex” compared to Grasberg, freetrader contended, “False: activation is practically trivial to implement either way. MTP-based activation for (absolutely-scheduled) ASERT has already been implemented. It’s an extremely simple function which can be removed a short while after the fork when the exact reference block height, target and timestamp can be hardcoded into the DAA. This is the same in either case.”

Freetrader also openly wondered at the point of ABC “moving forward” with Grasberg. “Not sure what you mean,” he pondered. “Other nodes have been invited to a BCH developer meeting to discuss DAA work. It sounds like ABC is trying to pre-empt any decisions of that meeting,” perhaps referencing yet another DAA meeting scheduled by The Future of Bitcoin Cash set for July 27th, 2020.

For his part, Toomim weighed-in on the issues via popular Bitcoin Cash-centric subreddit, r/BTC. “This is rather cheeky and disingenuous,” he commented on the oft-seized upon “no concrete proposal” contention in Séchet’s Grasberg post. “The issue here isn’t that there’s no concrete proposal. There definitely is. The issue is that it isn’t written based on Bitcoin ABC, and hasn’t been submitted to Bitcoin ABC as a code diff against their repo. Instead the concrete proposal is based on BCHN, and they were asked to review the proposal as a diff against the BCHN repo.” He called the ultimate issue “a non-technical problem” where it appears ABC desires “all other BCH full node implementations should need to read or copy code from ABC.”

Bitcoin Cash

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