Technical Specification for the Unchained Index

Immutable data — such as that produced by blockchains — and content-addressable storage — such as IPFS — have gotten married, and they’ve had a baby called the “Unchained Index.”

Immutable data and content-addressable storage are deeply connected.

After all, without a suitable storage medium for immutable data, how can it possibly be immutable? And, if one modifies immutable data — first of all, it’s not immutable, and secondly its location on IPFS changes. The two concepts are as connected as the front and back sides of a piece of paper. One cannot pull them apart — and even if one were able to pull them apart — rending the paper front from back, one would end up with two, slightly thinner, pieces of paper. There’s no way around it.

This document describes the Unchained Index, a computer system that purposefully takes advantage of this tight coupling between immutable data and content-addressable storage. The mechanisms described in this paper apply to any immutable data (for example, any time-ordered log), but the examples herein focus on the Ethereum blockchain’s mainnet.

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