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The Concept of Blockchain Views

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Rafael Belchior Hacker Noon profile picture

@rafaelbelchiorRafael Belchior

PhD researcher (Blockchain); https://rafaelapb.github.io/

Today I would like to express some ideas and leave you with the concept of blockchain view.

In business process management, there is a concept called a view. A view is a representation of a business process from a certain user (or stakeholder) perspective. Thus, the same business process can have several views. Does it mean that one is right and others are wrong? No. It just means that they represent different perspectives. To make this easier to understand, let us understand what is a business process:

“A business process (BP) is a collection of activities (or tasks), representing a well-defined procedure that aims to achieve a specific organizational goal”.

Business processes can be represented in different languages and notations, for example, BPMN.  For example, the following figure represents the request for renting a book:

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Source: https://www.mindphp.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=79&t=69957

More simply, let us consider JusticeChain, a system that protects application logs from the Portuguese information systems. JusticeChain predicts an automatic log analysis via smart contracts, but logs can also be analyzed by auditors. Hence, we may have two stakeholders’ views on the same process (collect evidence for an audit):

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Auditor and Smart contract (representing a blockchain consortium) concerns’ regarding the collection of evidence for a semi-automatic audit

What does this have to do with blockchain? Well, blockchains do also have several views. Some of them come and go naturally and harmlessly, others are created by malicious parties, and others are permanent.  

Section “Future Trends” from [1] says:

Different views on the global state of blockchains can exist due to the blockchain’s nature or data privacy necessity. For instance, in Bitcoin [42], the first public blockchain, the consensus is probabilistic, meaning that temporary views can exist. Concurrently, on private blockchains tailored for enterprises, different views are not only common but desirable. 
For example, at Hyperledger Fabric, a popular enterprise-grade blockchain, the private data feature allows participants to hide part of the state they hold effectively, only sharing proof of the existence of such data [2, 25]. Enterprise needs lead to the (permanent) existence of different views in the same blockchain. A practical case for studying view integration on the blockchain is merging different blockchain views onto an integrated one [8]. 
This process has several real-world applications: i) blockchain migration, ii) blockchain backup, and iii) data analytics for legal audits. In particular, blockchain migration happens when it is desirable to change a decentralized application’s blockchain infrastructure to another. Setting up the new infrastructure requires an integrated view of the first blockchain. Regarding backups, while it may be desirable to save all the data containing the blockchain, perhaps a subset of that data (view) is enough. Concerning data analytics, legal frameworks are starting to regulate blockchains [19], putting the focus on audits1 [27, 7, 6]. Subsequently, it is important not only to have raw data but also to access each stakeholder’s views to conduct a virtuous audit and analysis.

The same article provides a Figure in which it is possible to visualize what are views in a private blockchain. In short, there is a lot of space to work on the construction, management, and processing of blockchain views, with implications to several industries.

Conclusion

As put by the article: “ blockchain is often applied to mediate conflicting stakeholder concerns, allowing them to create their views, but at the same time, it provides a generic, integrated view [8]. Typically, as no entity fully controls the blockchain, the process of creating a consolidated view is manual and cumbersome. Future research is needed to systematically analyze those views, as well as automatically retrieve the consolidated view”.

References

1 — Belchior, R., Guerreiro, S., Vasconcelos, A., & Correia, M. (2020). A Survey on Business Process View Integration. http://arxiv.org/abs/2011.14465

2- Belchior, R., Correia, M., & Vasconcelos, A. (2019). JusticeChain: Using Blockchain To Protect Justice Logs. CoopIS 2019: 27th International Conference on Cooperative Information Systems 

3 — Belchior, R., Vasconcelos, A., & Correia, M. (2020). Towards Secure, Decentralized, and Automatic Audits with Blockchain. European Conference on Information Systems.

Articles available at: https://rafaelapb.github.io//academic

Also published at https://medium.com/coinmonks/blockchain-does-not-provide-a-single-source-of-truth-171d07d7dc21

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