What is «dust» and why the blockchain of bitcoin need a cleaner

The current bitcoin algorithm works in such a way that it is almost inevitable in the course of each transaction, the data is «split» into components, which in some point (especially when a small amount of the transactions) are crushed to «dust», forming such parts of bitcoin is that it is unprofitable to spend, because the transaction fee exceeds their cost. On the one hand, this is disadvantageous for users, the other for the entire blockchain such a cluttered space can lead to slow performance of the whole system.

And if earlier «dust» was not a problem for traders, this all changed when the entered the game fees, rather, when they have grown so much that performing everyday small transactions became unprofitable. So, in December, a collection of Bitcoin at its peak was $54.9. By the end of February, at the time of release IN the Bitcoin Core 0.16.0 with convenient features to create SegWit addresses, the fee has dropped to $2.8, and to date has reached the performance end of April 2017 — to about $0.84.

The decentralized applications developer Greg Slepak is sure that now is the best time to get rid of dust. «Such a chance may not happen again,» said he in a conversation with CoinDesk, referring to a record falling fees and lower interest in bitcoin. The next take-off may happen when Lightning Network — ofchain-processing solution for micropayments in bitcoin — is fully operational. «I think all of that leads to the growth of popularity of the blockchain, can lead to increased fees, which will be more than the dust,» — said Slepak.

Slepak describes the method by which users can get rid of the dust: they should combine all the «unspent transaction outputs» (UTXO) into one outgoing transaction. It should be understood that the bitcoins stored in the wallet than individual coins, namely in the form of «unspent outputs» — the remnants of the previous sent or received transactions. Thus, 1 bitcoin can imagine the amount of 0.1 BTC, 0.5 BTC, 0.2 BTC and other, smaller components — and so on until the «dust». The process of combining these parts in a single transaction can be represented in the form of an exchange of a handful of pennies, five-cent and ten-cent coins to one-dollar bill. However, the functionality needed to detect dust and getting rid of it presented not in every purse.

Slepak recommends that you use the Electrum wallet with a simplified payment verification (SPV), which requires less data to confirm the transaction and well adapted for mobile devices. The Electrum user can choose a certain number of addresses containing the dust, and click the «send» — thus self-selecting which parts of the coins to combine into a single output of a transaction. Such an operation allows the Blockchain wallet. However, some wallets do not imply this level of control, especially if cold storage according to the type of wallet Coinbase, which carries out the operation autonomously, independently deciding what unspent outputs it to get rid of.

Although the Slepak believes that it is time to «dispel the dust» in order not to lose money, he said that this should be done only if «implications from the privacy» will not be detrimental to the user. The fact that, owing to the public nature of the bitcoin blockchain in such «cleaning» the user risks to reveal their transaction history. To maintain financial privacy is extremely important not to reuse the same address, otherwise another user may with great probability be assumed that this address belongs to you: each time the private key is already used addresses «signs» the transaction, any recipient can trace the history of this address and get your information. However, this threat is significant only in the case if you have accumulated dust on several of his accounts, especially if one of those accounts has undergone KYC process on the exchange and the user has confirmed his identity. Thus, if one of the addresses associated with a specific person, all other addresses, keeping dust, when combined in a single transaction will also expose the identity of the user. «It’s like saying, «Yes, it is, these addresses also belong to me»,» — said Slepak. But if all «dust» is already linked to the same account, no new threats to privacy when forming a single transaction will not occur.

Less radical views in the matter of getting rid of the «dust» sticks to the database developer Blockchain Antoine Le Calvez. Published in March on Medium material, he notes that the amount of dust has decreased, and it was provoked by «uncomfortable» high charges Dec. Large companies working with bitcoin, looking for more profitable strategies and including resorted to getting rid of the dust. «Coinbase cleaned your wallet. And they were quite large «» polluter,» said Le Calvez, noting that since the extra «cleaning» creates less dust. Le Calvez believes that users can combine transaction described method for potential savings in the future, but only at will. In his opinion, the largest bitcoin company in any case will have a greater impact on the overall level of dust and «clean air» depends on them. However, Le Calvez agree that if the current level of fees in the Bitcoin network to simply clean the dust, but the situation will change when the number of transactions will soar again: «the Real test will be in the next lift,» he said.

Also significantly reduce the formation of dust can be the next version of Bitcoin, the release is scheduled for 2019. One of the major changes will affect the current selection algorithm of the coins, which, according to developers, inefficient unites the parts of the coins in the transaction and almost always creates «outputs for delivery» even when it can be avoided. New algorithm of «branch and bound» (eng. Branch and bound), developed by Andrew Chow and mark Erhardt, groups data more economical in terms of scalability, both in terms of fees: it is considering all the inputs, trying to find among them exactly the amount of bitcoins a user wants to spend. «Nobody wants the transaction was milled to dust,» says Erhardt.

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