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What Is RChain? Introduction to RHOC and REV

Can concurrent-based calculus resolve scalability issues in early blockchain projects?

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Although cryptos like Ethereum and Bitcoin are media darlings, their early lead in the blockchain industry found them stumbling on obstacles of speed, security, and scalability. RChain began development in Seattle, Washington in 2016 to address these issues. Designed by mathematician Greg Meredith (a co-creator of Reflective High-Order Calculus), this cooperative-run blockchain has a lot of experience behind it.

But is it too late to the table?

Solutions like Plasma are actively addressing scalability issues in older blockchains. Meanwhile, newer blockchains like Ontology, Stratis, Bytom, and Lisk address scalability issues using sidechains and blockchain interoperability. The issues RChain addresses are being addressed throughout the crypto sector, and partnerships are going to be key to any blockchain’s success, no matter how impressive the tech specs.

The RChain Cooperative isn’t without partnerships though – it partnered with several Seattle-based blockchain groups, including Reflective Venture Partners, a venture capital fund seeding RChain-based startups, and Resonate, a digital music platform migrating to the blockchain.

Whether these partnerships are strong enough to sustain RChain remains to be seen. Before diving into the nuts and bolts of the project, let’s review the RHOC token, RChain’s proprietary cryptocurrency.

Breakdown of RHOC

RChain has a market cap of $271,267,211 as of July 6th, 2018. This is based on a circulating supply of 360,710,406 RHOC (out of a total supply of 1,000,000,000) and an exchange rate of $0.752036. Its peak price so far was $3.10 on January 7, 2018. RHOC is not minable.

RChain held a private token sale in August 2017 with a minimum investment of $50,000. The cooperative sold $15 million worth of RHOC (valued at $0.20 each at the time) during this sale.

The current iteration of RHOC is an ERC-20 token on the Ethereum blockchain. Once the RChain mainnet launches (tentatively scheduled for the end of 2018), RHOC tokens will convert to REV tokens at a 1:1 ratio.

The tokens are used to compensate node operators for computing and storing system contracts, along with bandwidth resources. They’re also a staking currency used for consensus and validator bonding.

RHOC tokens may be purchased on Kucoin, Etherdelta, Forkdelta, and Idex. They are supported by the RChain wallet, along with any wallets that support ERC-20 tokens.

Rise of the Blockchain Co-op

Meredith isn’t the only person working there, of course. Its board includes Alexandr Bulkin, co-founder of Coinfund, Kenny Rowe, co-founder of MakerDAO, and Ethereum developer/researchers Vlad Zamfir and David Currin.

The co-op also has partnerships with Pyrofex and Pithia Inc., along with the partnerships above. Each partner is dedicated to expanding the RChain ecosystem while solidifying its core technical development.

RChain isn’t without its controversy, however. Meredith started on the project as Chief Technology Officer of Synereo, a content monetization platform that uses the AMP token. Meredith and Synereo CEO Dor Konforty had a public falling out that caused Meredith to head out on his own to start the RChain co-op. Stories swirled around the Internet from company insiders about both projects being vaporware.

While RChain is touted as a faster solution than Ethereum or Bitcoin that’s able to scale easier, a completed project has yet to materialize. Supporters compare the blockchain only to these popular blockchains, ignoring the dozens of others that improve upon their formulas.

Detractors point out most of the development appears to be outsourced and we’ve yet to see a working product. The testnet is scheduled for launch July 2018, and once it’s up, we’ll have more of an opportunity to see how it truly works in the real world.

Even then, partnerships are going to be key to RChain’s success. While the co-op is working hard to fund startups and incubate development on the chain, it’s a house of cards without partnerships from major enterprises. For the company to succeed, it needs partners in the Fortune 500.

How RChain Works

RChain got its name from the RHO calculus mentioned in the intro. This is one of its key features and is a simplified variant of asynchronous polyadic pi calculus. Basically, it allows concurrent computations over networks. It’s all done using Rholang, a proprietary smart-contract programming language.

Introducing a new programming language will stump even experienced developers, as concurrent computing is much different than object-oriented or functional structures used in most popular languages on the market today. Even Ethereum’s Solidity language became a hurdle, and blockchains like Stratis and Aeternity offer more familiar languages like C# and JavaScript, respectively.

The RChain smart contracts are processed on a RhoVM virtual machine and verified using a proof-of-stake consensus protocol (more specifically, the Casper algorithm is used). Like Ethereum, smart contracts are Turing complete, and each block has a dynamic size.

An RChain node includes the RhoVM, a Java VM (on which the RhoVM runs), and a P2P network. Each node can theoretically process multiple blockchains concurrently and can be configured as a public, private, or consortium blockchain. In this sense, RChain will be one of the many crypto projects that runs as a network of blockchains, rather than a single one.

In this respect, clients can pick and choose which blocks to subscribe to, without needing to process the entire blockchain. This is one of the features that helps improve speed.

RChain Summary

RChain is certainly an ambitious project, but a working product has yet to hit the market. It often compares itself to Bitcoin and Ethereum, but in the time it has so far taken to release a platform, hundreds of projects already addressed the issues in these early blockchains. Scalability will no longer be an issue by the time RChain’s main net is scheduled to go live. It does have several key factors working in its favor.

  • The current iteration of RChain exists as an ERC-20 token on the Ethereum blockchain. These tokens will be exchangeable for the REV token once the RChain mainnet is launched.
  • RChain uses reflective-high-order calculus to achieve multithreaded concurrent computing. It’s the basis of Rholang, the proprietary programming language run on a RhoVM environment within the Java virtual machine.
  • RChain hopes to have faster transaction speeds than any other cryptocurrency and more users than Facebook, although it has yet to achieve either.
  • RChain has several partnerships in place to create an incubator of startups that use its environment. Although enterprise scalability is its major selling point, it has yet to forge any enterprise partnerships.

RChain is saying all the right things, but many analysts doubt its viability in the real world, and the word ‘vaporware’ is not something anyone likes to hear, even if it may be a baseless accusation. Once its mainnet launches, we’ll know more about whether it can actually fulfill these promises.

 

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