With Mastering the Lightning Network, a book is released that has what it takes to become a standard job on the Bitcoin scene. We spoke with co-author Rene Pickhardt about risks and opportunities in the Lightning network, the creative process, and open source development.
When we meet Rene Pickhardt for an interview, the Lightning specialist is in a good mood. No wonder: with the publication of Mastering the Lightning Network: A Second Layer Blockchain Protocol for Instant Bitcoin Payments the educator’s most ambitious project comes to an end. Pickhardt and his two co-authors, Andreas Antonopoulos and Olaoluwa Osuntokun, also known as @roasbeef, sat on the book. The result can be read; It’s probably exactly what is needed now to convince more programmers of the Lightning open source project. Speaking of open source: all the text is freely available on GitHub.
But what is this Lightning network anyway, Mr. Pickhardt?
“The Lightning Network is an ingenious way to use Bitcoin. With the Lightning network we are making it possible to send and receive bitcoins between people without having to accept the disadvantages of the slow blockchain ”, is the most precise answer to this question that we have ever heard. “I’ve had to answer them several times,” says the author with a laugh.
But that’s exactly what Lightning is all about – a smart way to send Bitcoin (the currency) without using Bitcoin (the network):
What Bitcoin can do is process transactions, only 7 of them per second on average. […] Now it turns out that you can do that with the Lightning network at a significantly higher rate than with these seven technical transactions. With Lightning you have more or less the same security guarantees,
Pickhardt told BTC-ECHO.
Problem area liquidity
But as innovative as the second layer network in Bitcoin, which was first mentioned in 2015 in a corresponding paper by Joseph Poon and Thaddeus Dryja, it does not work without technical difficulties. First, there is the problem of liquidity. Sufficient liquidity is required to forward payments within the network, which always consists of payment channels between two parties. A distinction is made between incoming and outgoing liquidity – “receive and send liquidity”.
If we want to pay someone through Lightning, then there should always be enough liquidity in the channels. But you don’t know.
But this is exactly where a business opportunity would also arise. Because the Lightning network is designed in such a way that node operators who intelligently distribute their channels can be rewarded with routing fees. This is still a “dysfunctional market” today, as liquidity is often “provided in the wrong place.” However, if these inefficiencies are resolved, “providing liquidity could result in a business opportunity,” says the author, who is currently doing his PhD in Norway.
Similar to Mastering Bitcoin It is also Mastering the Lightning network written for two target groups: “For the plebs”, that is, for those interested in Bitcoin, as well as for developers. Because while part 1 is quite intuitive to read, part two already gets to the heart of the matter. “People with a computer background who want to understand the network at the protocol level have added value,” Pickhardt said in an interview with BTC-ECHO.
Mastering the Lightning Network – A Standard Job
At the end of the day, I could Mastering the Lightning network in the same breath with Mastering Bitcoin by Antonopoulos: A standard reference work that shouldn’t be missing from any Bitcoin library.
Mastering the Lightning network It is now available as an e-book version and, as of December 21, also as a paperback. However, since the work was created open source, the entire text is also accessible GitHub memory.
BTW: If you want to open a Lightning channel with the BTC-ECHO node, you can contact the author directly on Twitter (@Davemeave).