Protocol Labs Research

A resilient system or network is fundamentally uncompromised by an isolated failure or network split. The system is malleable, adaptable to different conditions and capable of evolving to meet new requirements over time. That said, resilience here identifies also as a characteristic against changing system or network conditions, i.e., the system’s core operating principles adjust so that performance remains when the system scales up to serve increasing demand from more users. Building resilience into foundational infrastructure is the key in building a computing and networking fabric for human knowledge.

Mission & Vision

The mission of the Resilient Networks Lab is to build resilient distributed systems, by creating and operating a platform where researchers can collaborate openly and asynchronously on deep technical work.

Motivation & Description

The lab’s genesis comes from a need present in the IPFS and libp2p projects to amp their research efforts to tackle the critical challenges of scaling up networks to planet scale and beyond. The Lab is designed to take ownership of the earlier stages on the research pipeline, from ideas to specs and to code.

Research Endeavours

  • Decentralized Data Delivery Markets (3DMs): With the emergence of Decentralized Storage Networks and the rapid decrease in the price of storage services and hardware, there is a rapidly growing need to leverage the additional storage capacity contributed to Decentralized Storage Networks by new players, including end-users, and use it to deliver reliable and high-quality storage and delivery services. Similarly to Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) for the traditional Cloud Storage market, we now have the opportunity to build Decentralised CDNs for Decentralised Storage Networks. The Decentralized Data Delivery Markets (3DMs) Open Problem covers all the essential areas of work that need to be studied in order to create a fully permissionless free market for data delivery that supports fair data exchange on the service provided.
  • Networking in Heterogeneous Runtimes: Edge computing has emerged as a distributed computing paradigm to overcome practical scalability limits of cloud computing. The main principle of edge computing is to leverage computational resources outside of the cloud to perform computations closer to data sources, avoiding unnecessary data transfers to the cloud and enabling faster responses for clients. Given the enormous amount of data that is expected to be produced at the edge of the network (by end-user devices), the edge-computing principle builds on the fact that “it is cheaper to bring computation to data, rather than data to computation.”
  • Preserve users' privacy when providing and fetching content: How to ensure that the user’s of the IPFS network can collect and provide information while mainting their full anonymity.
  • Mutable data (naming, real-time, guarantees): Enabling a multitude of different patterns of interactions between users, machines and both. In other words, what are the essential primitives that must be provided for dynamic applications to exist, what are the guarantees they require (consistency, availability, persistence, authenticity, etc) from the underlying layer in order create powerful and complete applications in the Distributed Web.
  • Human-readable naming: You can only have two of three properties for a name: human-meaningful, secure, decentralized. This is Zooko’s Trilemma. Can we have all 3, or even more? Can context related to some data help solve this problem?
  • Enhanced bitswap/graphsync with more network smarts: Bitswap is a simple protocol and it generally works. However, we feel that its performance can be substantially improved. One of the main factors that hold performance back is the fact that a node cannot request a subgraph of the DAG and results in many round-trips in order to “walk down” the DAG. The current operation of bitswap is also very often linked to duplicate transmission and receipt of content which overloads both the end nodes and the network.
  • Routing at scale (1M, 10M, 100M, 1B.. nodes): Content-addressable networks face the challenge of routing scalability, as the amount of addressable elements in the network rises by several orders of magnitude compared to the host-addressable Internet of today.
  • PubSub at scale (1M, 10M, 100M, 1B.. nodes): As the IPFS system is evolving and growing, communicating new entries to the IPNS is becoming an issue due to the increased network and node load requirements. The expected growth of the system to multiple millions of nodes is going to create significant performance issues, which might render the system unusable. Despite the significant amount of related literature on the topic of pub/sub, very few systems have been tested to that level of scalability, while those that have been are mostly cloud-based, managed and structured infrastructures.
  • Improved layouts to represent data in hash-linked graphs (using IPLD): IPFS offers a unique way to represent any kind of data in a hash-linked graph. What this means is that a file can be chunked in different ways and these chunks can be organized with the goal of improving file seek times, file fetching, reducing time to first byte and more, which creates the room for drastic improvements in the performance of certain applications (e.g. video streaming) and the memory footprint of each dataset. We believe this to be an evergreen field as the IPFS network improves and gets smarter, new ways to chunk and organize data will emerge for all sorts of usecases.


Related talks

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Beyond swapping bits
Protocol Labs Research Talks / 2021.02.23

Related publications

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2021.1.14 / Report
Accelerating content routing with Bitswap: A multi-path file transfer protocol in IPFS and Filecoin
Bitswap is a Block Exchange protocol designed for P2P Content Addressable Networks. It leverages merkle-linked graphs in order to parallelize retrieval and verify content integrity. Bitswap is being used in the InterPlanetary File System architecture as the main content exchange protocol, as well as in the Filecoin network as part of the block synchronisation protocol.
2020.7.6 / Report
GossipSub: Attack-resilient message propagation in the Filecoin and ETH2.0 networks
Permissionless blockchain environments necessitate the use of a fast and attack-resilient message propagation protocol for Block and Transaction messages to keep nodes synchronised and avoid forks. We present GossipSub, a gossip-based pubsub protocol, which, in contrast to past pubsub protocols, incorporates resilience against a wide spectrum of attacks.
Dimitris Vyzovitis, Yusef Napora, Dirk McCormick, David Dias , Yiannis Psaras
2020.4.18 / Report
Gossipsub-v1.1 evaluation report
Permissionless blockchain environments necessitate the use of a fast and attack-resilient message propagation protocol for Block and Transaction messages to keep nodes synchronised and avoid forks. We present GossipSub, a gossip-based pubsub protocol, which, in contrast to past pubsub protocols, incorporates resilience against a wide spectrum of attacks.
Dimitris Vyzovitis, Yusef Napora, Dirk McCormick, David Dias , Yiannis Psaras
2020.1.6 / Conference paper
DClaims: A censorship resistant web annotations system using IPFS and Ethereum
The proliferation of unreliable and biased information is a significant problem on the Internet. To assess the credibility of the information retrieved from news websites and other sources, users often resort to social platforms looking for confirmation with trustworthy parties.
ACM/SIGAPP Symposium On Applied Computing (to appear) / 2020.04.30 / Brno, Czech Republic
João Santos, Nuno Santos, David Dias

Related posts

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2021.4.6 / News
ResNetLab on Tour tutorials go on-demand
We started the ResNetLab on Tour programme in late 2019 with the goal of onboarding the research and academic community to the IPFS architecture and the interesting open problems and research directions associated with the decentralisation of internet services.
2021.3.16 / Talks
Protocol Labs at FOSDEM 2021
FOSDEM is one of the biggest events for software developers building open-source software. Founded in 2000, the conference takes place once a year in Brussels, gathering over 8000 developers, hackers, and engineers from across the spectrum of software development.
2021.3.3 / News, Team
ResNetLab welcomes Barath Raghavan as a research advisor
We are pleased to announce that Barath Raghavan will be working with ResNetLab as an advisor. Barath is a professor of computer science at USC, where he co-leads the networked systems lab and conducts research across the fields of core networked systems, computing for social good and sustainability, and security.
2021.2.11 / Talks
IEEE GLOBECOM 2020 - The InterPlanetary File System and the Filecoin Network
IEEE Globecom is one of the flagship IEEE ComSoc conferences in the field of networks and communications – and, with over 2000 attendees, one of the largest conferences in the field.
2021.2.3 / Event
Decentralising the Internet with IPFS and Filecoin (DI2F) workshop at IFIP Networking 2021: Call for Contributions
Since the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) was first introduced in a 2014 whitepaper, interest from the research community on improving and building on its protocol stack has been steadily growing. A search for “IPFS networking” on Google Scholar now returns over 1500 results, and that is just a fraction of the relevant publications.
2021.1.20 / Blog
ResNetLab 2020 in review: we love it when a plan comes together
We hope you spent some fantastic time with your loved ones during the holiday season. With the time to pause, rest, and reflect – and with the goal of kicking off 2021 in the best way possible – we decided to capture ResNetLab’s 2020 highlights, share what we’ve learned, and describe what we will be focusing on in 2021.
2021.1.11 / Blog
Beyond Swapping Bits: project review (and preview!)
If you have been following along for the past three months (1, 2, 3, 4), you know that we in ResNetLab started the Beyond Bitswap project with one goal in mind: to drive speed-ups for file-sharing in IPFS.
2021.1.1 / Blog
Our Bitswap nodes have become “jumping inspectors” (updated)
A few weeks ago, we shared how we have taught our Bitswap nodes to jump. If you recall from that post, the content discovery range extension gained came at the expense of an increased number of duplicate blocks exchanged in the network.
2020.12.10 / Blog
Teaching Bitswap nodes to jump
By now you may have heard about ResNetLab’s research endeavour to drive speed-ups on file transfers: Beyond Swapping Bits. Our recent blog post, “Honey, I shrunk our libp2p streams”, considers how adding compression to libp2p could lead to significant bandwidth savings.
2020.11.25 / Talks
IEEE/IFIP CNSM 2020 - The InterPlanetary File System and the Filecoin Network
ResNetLab was invited to present a 3.5 hour tutorial at one of the biggest conferences in the “NetMan” community, the 16th International Conference on Network and Service Management. We were impressed by the quality of talks, keynotes, workshops, and tutorials presented during the conference.
2020.11.3 / Blog
"Two ears, one mouth": how to leverage bitswap chatter for faster transfers
As part of ResNetLab’s research endeavour to drive speed-ups on file transfers, Beyond Swapping Bits, we present a new contribution to IPFS Bitswap protocol. We argue that Bitswap is currently discarding a wealth of information that could be used to its benefit, improving retrieval success and minimizing the latency to retrieve content.
2020.10.29 / Blog
Honey, I shrunk our libp2p streams
Today we’re excited to share the story of how we decided to explore compression for libp2p streams and ended up achieving up to a 75% decrease in bandwidth use when performing an IPFS file exchange.
2020.10.13 / News, Grants
Meet the latest Protocol Labs Research Grant recipients
In January of 2020, the Resilient Networks Lab (ResNetLab) launched two RFPs (Requests for Proposals) to address pressing open problems faced by IPFS and libp2p, namely, Routing at Scale and PubSub at Scale.
2020.10.6 / Blog
GossipSub: An attack-resilient messaging-layer protocol for public blockchains
Securing permissionless networks is the bane of open networks, starting with the Internet and every overlay network that operates over it. This challenge has existed from the early days of the Internet to the current Web 3.
2020.8.26 / News, Team
Vasilis Giotsas joins Protocol Labs Research
Vasileios (Vasilis) Giotsas is joining the Resilient Networks Lab (ResNetLab) as a Research Engineer. He comes to PL from Lancaster University, where he was an Assistant Professor, after stints at Technischen Universität Berlin and the University of California San Diego.
2020.7.27 / News, Team
Alfonso de la Rocha joins Protocol Labs Research
Alfonso is joining the Resilient Networks Lab (ResNetLab) as a Research Engineer. He comes to PL from Telefónica R&D, where he worked on blockchain-based technologies such as TrustOS. We asked Alfonso about his journey to PL, the projects he will be working on in the ResNetLab, and his thoughts about future technological developments:
2020.7.23 / Blog
How content addressing can solve streaming challenges as networks are overloaded
Given the mass migration to remote work we’ve seen in recent months, you’d think the internet would be collapsing under the added strain. Yet precisely the opposite has happened. As experts have observed, the internet isn’t buckling under added traffic; it’s thriving.
2020.7.1 / Talks
IEEE/IFIP DSN 2020 - The InterPlanetary File System and the Filecoin Network
ResNetLab was invited to present “The InterPlanetary File System and the Filecoin Network” in a 3-hour tutorial at the IEEE/IFIP International Conference on Dependable Systems and Networks! The conference, now in its 50th edition, has an established track record of top-quality research contributions, and is one of the oldest conferences in its subject area.
2020.6.8 / Talks
IPFS talk at the IRTF Decentralised Internet Infrastructure Research Group meeting
ResNetLab was invited to meet with the Decentralised Internet Infrastructure Research Group (DINRG) of the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) to present and discuss the Software Architecture of the IPFS protocol.
2020.5.18 / Talks
NDN Seminar: a high-level overview of the InterPlanetary File System
ResNetLab was invited to present the “High-Level Overview of the IPFS Architecture” to the Named Data Networking consortium!
2020.5.7 / Talks
Next Generation Networks (NGN) group talk: A high-level overview of the InterPlanetary File System
The Next Generation Networks (NGN) group recently invited the Resilient Networks Lab (ResNetLab) to present a tutorial on IPFS. NGN is a vibrant group of academics, industry researchers and engineers working in the general area of — you guessed it — next-generation networks.
2020.5.3 / Talks
IEEE ICBC 2020: The InterPlanetary File System and the Filecoin Network
ResNetLab presented at one of the most prominent conferences in the area of Distributed Ledger Technologies: the IEEE International Conference on Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies! IEEE ICBC 2020 took place remotely, was well-attended, and had an exciting programme both in terms of tutorials during the first day and invited talks during the main conference, where Vitalik Buterin delivered the keynote speech.
2020.4.17 / Talks
Gossipsub v1.1 at 'Open Tech Will Save Us' virtual event
ResNetLab was present at Open Tech Will Save Us virtual meetup, an event organized by the team during which participants could watch a live stream provided by Jitsi and ask questions using the Matrix protocol (often through a client like Riot).
2020.2.25 / News, Team
Yiannis Psaras joins Protocol Labs Research
Yiannis (Ioannis) is joining the Resilient Networks Lab, which he helped get off the ground after becoming an advisor to PL in July 2019. Yiannis is currently a fellow of the United Kingdom’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and a Lecturer at University College London, where he has worked on a number of topics within the broad field of networking, with a significant focus on Information-Centric Networking (ICN).
2019.12.30 / News
A new lab for resilient networks research
Resiliency is at the core of systems that are capable of standing the test of time, providing unshakable access for the many generations to come. A resilient system or network is fundamentally uncompromised by an isolated failure or network split.