Fractal Scaling: What is it?

03 March 2022Gabriella Wong
  • blockchain
  • anoma basics

Fractals are a phenomenon that occurs naturally, describing patterns that nature repeats at different scales. Based on fractals in nature, like snowflakes, Anoma's approach to scaling follows how human commercial activities are mostly local, both geographically and socially. Learn the basics of how Anoma plans to withstand a rapidly growing user base, alongside offering customizability and flexibility.

Fractal Scaling: What is it?

Fractals can be found everywhere. Originally coined to describe patterns that the law of nature repeats at different scales, this phenomenon creates some of the most extraordinary wonders of the natural world. From trees, to river deltas, to snowflakes, fractals in nature grow in the same pattern at different sizes and scales, creating geometric shapes and objects that can be split into parts, each of which is a smaller replica of the whole.

Based on fractals in nature, fractal scaling is Anoma’s approach to scaling throughput, which is the rate at which transactions are processed. As the Anoma protocols and subprotocols grow in terms of users and transaction volume, there are certain problems that can be anticipated: hardware limitations and long response times as a result of high latency that may also lead to higher transaction fees. Blockchain scalability has been a recurring issue in large-scale projects and networks, and if networks cannot expand in terms of capacity for accommodating new transactions and users, it can greatly hinder growth and widespread adoption.

There are two types of scaling in the blockchain space: horizontal and vertical scaling. Vertical scaling is done by simply making the blockchain faster using zero-knowledge protocols to compress transactions, improving database access patterns, and stricter requirements of validators to buy faster servers. This applies to improving the performance of a single instance of the ledger. Vertical scaling is complemented by horizontal scaling, which is where fractal scaling comes in.

Anoma’s fractal scaling approach is based on the fact that human commercial activities are mostly local (both geographically and socially, from people in the same gaming community to cities or entire countries), allowing and encouraging users, to the extent that developers and the network can, to launch separate instances of Anoma in local areas to fit their own needs and commercial behavior. Additionally, these separate instances of Anoma are highly customizable. Users who launched them have the flexibility to recruit their own validators and configure their own security model. For example, one can decide for their geographically local instance of Anoma, “Anoma Berlin,” to connect only to other instances in Germany, such as “Anoma Hamburg.” These properties are not controlled by any particular centralized Anoma instance, although a default software will be provided by developers which can be modified to suit a community’s needs.


The goals of fractal scaling are not limited to scaling throughput. Because the Anoma protocols expect to host a wide spectrum of transactions with different security needs and values, a single ledger is limited to how much it can service these varying needs. Local instances offer quicker transaction times with lower security for those who don’t need it. Ultimately, Anoma’s goal, not just from the aspect of scaling, is to provide customizability and flexibility. By decoupling the architecture and security model in its design, users are empowered to create, as well as use their own version of Anoma, catered to almost every aspect of their transactional needs, while the Anoma protocols scale fractally alongside the growth of the community.

To understand more about fractal scaling, read Fractal Scaling from the Anoma Tangram series which offers a more complex explanation on the topic.

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