The Radix Saga: Part 1

The Promise Of Possibility

A Necessary Perfection

Over the past year, the DeFi ecosystem has taken the crypto world by storm. With repackaged branding and bandage-fixes, most projects have only now hopped onto the DeFi bandwagon. Hidden with this charade, however, exists a team that has spent nearly a decade engineering an elegant future-ready platform to put all-others to shame...

Back in 2013, visionary Dan Hughes foresaw the inefficiencies that would eventually come to plague the DeFi space. Of course, “DeFi” wasn’t even a well-known term back then. But Dan was thinking far ahead of his peers. Inspired by Satoshi Nakamoto himself, Dan envisioned a truly globally-scalable platform that would revolutionize the world as we know it. 

Led by this coding genius, the Radix team has discarded iteration after iteration of consensus-models. Each of these iterations were cutting-edge innovations. But to Radix — none of them were good enough.  They were stubborn in their pursuit of a truly world-breaking innovation.  Some would say their approach to innovation was “perfectionist”, but Radix would argue that their approach was “necessary.” After all, Radix is embarking on a herculean mission that demands nothing less than perfection itself.

A Trillion Dollar Ambition

Scalability is often touted as the next big step for the DeFi Ecosystem. But that begs the question — what does scaling even entail? How “much” do we need to scale? And scale for “whom” exactly?  The Radix team have been obsessing over these questions over the past decade, and they have found the crypto-space severely wanting.

The global financial services industry (lending, borrowing, payments etc) is estimated to be worth $25 Trillion dollars. Crypto DeFi is only a tiny fraction in comparison and still wasn’t able to meet the throughput requirements. The rebuttal to this is often “Ethereum 2.0 will solve the scalability and throughput problem”. And perhaps it may — but not without a host of other problems that lead to bottlenecks on the road to global adoption.

Dan Hughes was able to foresee these crippling hurdles all the way back in 2013. Even four years later, while everyone was touting “scalability” as the new buzz word, Dan and his team were working tirelessly away at problems that hadn’t even been discovered yet. Radix sought to engineer a solution that would be battle-ready for the demands of the trillion dollar industry that not only needed scalability — but security and ease-of-use as well.

A Four-Pronged Attack

Although extremely ambitious, Radix’s mission statement could be summed up in a single simple sentence: 
A decentralized protocol to serve as the backbone of global finance.

A simple sentence indeed — but an almost impossible task. In fact, achieving this would entail battling one of the hardest problems in Computer Science. The Blockchain Trilemma states that a system cannot have all three: Security, Scalability & Decentralization without compromising on at least one of them.

Radix, however, didn’t just want their platform to fulfil all three of these criteria — but they insisted on the fourth: “Ease Of Use”.  Again, while this may sound simple on paper, it would require the genius of Dan Hughes and his team to see it fulfilled. 

Even the team at Ethereum struggle to provide ease-of-use to their community. While Ethereum 2.0 may eventually deliver on its promise of scalability, it will do so by adding increased complexity to an already unsavoury development experience. This makes future development efforts prone-to-error, laborious, and expensive — all of which are likely to hinder adoption.

In fact, this is a problem that plagues every major project in the DeFi space. As soon as a team attempts to tackle one problem, they inevitably sacrifice a value offering on another problem. For example, the solution provided by Ethereum 2.0 brings to doubt its core-value proposition in the DeFi Space. For while Ethereum’s solution may provide scalability, it also hampers the seamless “cross-chain composability” that made DeFi effective in the first place.

Radix realized that the only way to escape this “trap of compromise” was to approach the problem differently. Instead of trying to solve “one problem at a time”, they opted for a four-pronged attack. Tackling all four problems holistically would allow Radix to craft an innovation where each one of the solutions “complimented” each other, instead of “compromising” on each other:

  • Scalability with Composability
  • Security
  • Decentralization
  • Ease of Use

But achieving this feat would be no small matter. In fact, it would be a gargantuan task — the likes of which would raise the eyebrows of the smartest minds in the space. Dan Hughes, however, would settle for nothing less.

A Composable Solution

After years of sweat and blood, the persistence finally paid off. Radix’s stubborn determination bore fruit to what could potentially be a world-changing innovation: Cerberus — the heart of the Radix protocol.  

Cerberus, aptly named after a mythological multi-headed guardian, was Radix’s statement indicating that they have finally arrived for the grand stage. It promises to encapsulate every feature the team envisioned in their dream protocol — a protocol that would serve as the backbone of the global financial system.  

“We spent years building, so you don’t have to”
Dan Hughes

By incorporating a unique shard-first  approach, Radix was able to elegantly solve each of the aforementioned problems. Not only does Cerberus provide a novel answer to the Blockchain Trilemma, but it does so while still maintaining ease-of use &  composability — a core feature to ensure the success of the DeFi ecosystem.

Put simply, Cerberus’ pre-sharded architecture allows Radix to leverage the benefits of sharding while still maintaining seamless communication between the shards. This means that apps living on different shards can interact with each other easily (aka cross-shard interoperability) This is far more crucial and ground-breaking than it may seem.  In future articles, we will provide simple explainers to all of these concepts and how Radix tackles them.

Like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle finally coming together, Cerberus is a picturesque piece of engineering where every component compliments the other.  But will Radix achieve its eventual goal of global adoption? There’s definitely still a long road ahead. And at Mango; we’re excited to explore the technology further.

About the author

Shawn Dexter

Shawn is a blockchain & distributed ledger technology enthusiast with a strong background in Computer Science, Product Management and Entrepreneurship.