The Byzantium update was a planned fork, hence it did not have many disagreements among the community regarding the code changes.

The second largest cryptocurrency by market cap, Ethereum, under went the fifth hard fork on its network at 05:22 UTC, 16th October 2017. The “Byzantium” update is the first part, while the “Constantinople” is the second part, of the larger “Metropolis” update.

The Byzantium update was a planned fork, hence it did not have many disagreements among the community regarding the code changes. Although, this update does not introduce Proof of Stake (POS) and anonymous transactions, it does bring some interesting changes moving forward. In preparation for proof of stake (POS), where mining will be phased out completely, under the “Byzantium” update the mining reward will be reduced from 5 ETH to 3 ETH.

In regards to one day enabling anonymous transactions on the Ethereum network, the Byzantium upgrade has added the following four functions:

  • Big Mod Exponentiation
  • Elliptic Curve Addition
  • Elliptic Curve Scalar Multiplication
  • Elliptic Curve Pairing

These four functions will be essential for the execution of ZK-Snarks, the cryptography that will finally enable anonymous transactions on the network.

There are some other notable features that have been added under the Byzantium update. The state tree root dependency between transactions on a block has been removed, and some optional parameters have been added. This will facilitate parallel transactions also meaning faster transactions on the network.

The “Byzantium” upgrade has not been smooth sailing all the way and it has had its rough moments in the form of critical bugs being found in the code. The developers did make corrections to the code in the run-up to the deadline, but the possibility of postponing the upgrade was quite big.

According to Ether nodes, a website for blockchain analytics, the two main ethereum nodes, Geth & Parity are running faulty software at approximately 65% & 30% respectively. Due to this faulty software, there is a possibility of a consensus issue arising which could lead to network partition or render the network vulnerable to a denial of service attacks. However, there is cause for celebrations among the Ethereum developers and the community as there is no sign of minority fork according to the data.

About the Author: Gursimran Bhullar, MBA (Business Development) from Clarkson University New York State, Entrepreneur, Crypto Enthusiast & Investor.

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