Brink, the new nonprofit founded by John Newbery and Mike Schmidt to train and support Bitcoin developers, today announced Gloria Zhao as its first fellow. After graduating from Berkeley with a degree in computer science this month, Zhao will familiarize herself with contributing to Bitcoin Core and related open-source projects under mentorship of Newbery. Her year-long fellowship is funded by donations from Square Crypto and the Human Rights Foundation.
“I want to be a serious and long-term Bitcoin Core developer, which I don’t imagine is an extremely rare interest or anything, but there are a ton of technical and psychological barriers to overcome,” Zhao told Bitcoin Magazine. “Having a supportive community has been extremely important in my personal journey and, in general, John’s demonstrated a strong interest and ability to foster new contributors into long-term contributors. My main reason for joining the Brink fellowship instead of grants is the mentorship he’s offering.”
Zhao will in particular focus on package relay, a proposed upgrade to Bitcoin’s handling of unconfirmed transactions which could improve Bitcoin’s user experience, optimize fee market dynamics, and — perhaps most importantly — make Layer 2 protocols like the Lightning Network more robust.
A Bitcoin node’s mempool (memory pool) is the collection of transactions it has received but that have not yet been confirmed in a block. Nodes forward transactions from their mempool to peers on the network, and miners select transactions from their mempool to include in a new block.
Mempools have a size limit. This limit can be configured for each node (the default for Bitcoin Core nodes is 300 megabytes) but when it is full, some transactions must be dropped from the mempool before new transactions can be added. Currently, this selection is based on fees: transactions that include the lowest fees are dropped from mempools in…