Testnet Briefly Explained

Aleo’s commitment to creating a decentralized, open-source network offering support for end-users and developers to build, deploy and run truly private applications on the web made it possible by combining the strengths of decentralized systems with zero-knowledge cryptography.

Furthermore, as a mechanism that incentivizes the market to reduce the cost and increase the efficiency of creating zero-knowledge proofs, Aleo validated the concept of Proof-of-Succinct Work (PoSW).

Aleo purposely creates a public testnet to validate the technical architecture and security of the blockchain in a setting that is as realistic as possible. Aleo’s Testnet1 was an experimental network for developers to begin building and testing applications on Aleo. Testnet1, while being a trusted testnet, was used by the core team for designing and evaluating new circuits, planning and staging network upgrades, and running experimental features following a subsequent Testnet2.

Incentivized Testnet2

After months of research and engineering, on December 6, 2021, an incentivized testnet, called Testnet2 was launched. Testnet2, a technical upgrade from testnet1, invites all of our Aleo community members, incentivizing them to participate in running a mine or a small number of mining nodes on their hardware for rewards such as 15,000,000 Aleo credits redeemable at mainnet launch.

Our goal with testnet2 was to test these crypto-economic assumptions in a Byzantine setting, wherein the Aleo team did not possess control over nodes in the network or how nodes interacted with one another in the protocol (honestly or dishonestly).

During the ten weeks of Testnet2, ending on February 14, 2022, over 10,000 nodes from around the Aleo community participated in mining blocks, which helped Aleo test technical architecture and validate Aleo’s crypto-economic design. At one point, the fastest miner was computing an incredible 10,000 proofs per second, and the total network hash rate at its peak was over 20,000 proofs per second. The project received an impressive show of engagement and support from the community, its distributing control and accountability among many parties, thus contributing to the security of the network and its decentralization at launch.

Contributors have identified or submitted fixes for various bugs, as well as adding support for additional features beyond what was originally submitted by the team. The team was able to identify and address critical issues related to consensus. In particular, they moved from Nakamoto Consensus to an algorithm called ASERT and fixed a small but critical bug in how proofs were generated within PoSW.

Several mining pools are now up and running, which will help spread the hash rate across the network and ensure that control and accountability are distributed among the members of the main network rather than any one group of entities.

So, what’s the next Aleo step?

The incentivized portion of testnet2 was a significant step towards our mainnet launch. Currently, an industry initiative on organizing the Zprize competition to develop an open-source faster GPU prover should enable significant improvements to the baseline Aleo prover, which should help democratize participation in mining and lead to a higher hash rate and greater security at mainnet launch.

Our team remains focused on launching mainnet in Q3 of this coming year. Meanwhile, please note that while the incentive period for testnet2 has ended, the network will continue to run without deploying codes on it.

Meanwhile, the development of testnet3 has already begun. Critically, this testnet will add support for deployment fully-fledged Leo programs and enable users of the testnet to interact with those programs via transactions generated off-chain. This will be our final testnet before the mainnet launch, anticipated in Q3 of this year.

Aleo wants to thank everyone for your contributions which made this testnet a success. We couldn’t do it without the efforts of the whole community, and we’re excited to launch this network together in 2022.

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