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What are Consensus Mechanisms?

What are Consensus Mechanisms?


A single administrator maintains and updates centralized systems, such as a company’s database that contains important information.

The authority, which is responsible for keeping all records, makes all alterations, such as adding, deleting, or updating the information.

Blockchains are decentralized, self-governing networks that operate globally without a single centralized authority. They involve the participation of many users who try to authenticate and verify transactions occurring on the blockchain.

These open shared ledgers need an efficient, equitable, real-time, practical, dependable, and secure mechanism to confirm that all network transactions are legitimate and that all participants agree on the ledger’s status. This vital function is performed by the consensus mechanism, which is the set of rules that establishes the legitimacy of contributions made by different blockchain participants (i.e., nodes or transactors).

In order to obtain the required consensus on a single data value or a single state of the network across distributed processes or multi-agent systems, such as with cryptocurrencies, consensus mechanisms acts as the fault-tolerant mechanisms employed in blockchain systems. It is helpful for keeping records, among other things.

A consensus mechanism is a technique for ensuring the security of a distributed database and validating entries. Since the database in the case of cryptocurrencies is referred to as a blockchain, the consensus process protects the blockchain.

Types of consensus Mechanisms

Two of the most used consensus mechanisms in the context of blockchains and cryptocurrencies are proof-of-work (PoW) and proof-of-stake (PoS).

Proof of work (PoW)

Proof of work (PoW) is a decentralized consensus mechanism that prevents system gaming by making network users spend time figuring out a random mathematical puzzle. It is frequently employed in cryptocurrency mining for the purpose of validating transactions and producing new coins.

Proof of work requires a not-insignificant but realistic amount of effort in order to deter wasteful or malicious uses of computing resources, such as sending spam emails or starting denial-of-service attacks.

When Satoshi Nakamoto created Bitcoin in 2008, he described the digital currencies as being built on proof-of-work protocols that would allow secure peer-to-peer transactions without the need for a centralized authority.

One of the issues that has previously prevented the development of a practical digital currency is the double-spend issue. Since cryptocurrencies are essentially data, a mechanism is needed to prevent users from using the same units repeatedly before the system can record the transactions.

If you’ve ever copied and pasted a computer file, you can probably see how you could spend digital money twice — or perhaps ten times or more — while it would be difficult to use the same dollar note for two different purchases.

This double-spend was resolved by Nakamoto’s consensus algorithm. Proof of work assists in preventing double-spending by incentivizing miners to examine the legitimacy of new crypto transactions before adding them to the distributed record known as the blockchain.

Proof of stake

The proof-of-stake (POS) consensus method, which was created as an alternative for proof-of-work (POW) is a decentralized ledger technology. Owners of cryptocurrencies can validate block transactions depending on the number of staked coins.

The proof of stake approach, demand validators to hold and stake tokens in exchange for the right to earn transaction fees, in contrast proof of work method, which depends on miners to solve cryptographic puzzles.

Proof-of-stake is used in blockchains to process transactions and create new blocks, which reduces the amount of computational work needed to verify blocks and transactions. Blockchain security was maintained by proof of work. Proof-of-stake modifies how blocks are confirmed using coin owners’ devices, reducing the amount of computational work necessary. The owners invest their currency as collateral in exchange for the chance to validate blocks and subsequently turn into validators.

To validate data blocks and confirm transactions, validators are chosen at random. This system randomly chooses who is qualified to receive fees rather than using a competitive rewards-based strategy like proof-of-work.

To become a validator, one must “stake” a certain number of coins, for instance, before a user on Ethereum may become a validator, 32 ETH must be staked. A certain number of validators must confirm that a block is accurate for it to be finalized and closed. Blocks are validated by more than one validator.

Various proof-of-stake systems can reach a consensus using a variety of techniques. When Ethereum adopts sharding, for instance, a validator will confirm the transactions and add them to a shard block, necessitating at least 128 validators on a committee. After the creation of a block and the validation of the shards, the block is closed when two-thirds of the validators certify that the transaction is valid.

Blockchains can synchronize data, validate data, and conduct transactions by these consensus mechanisms. Despite having advantages and disadvantages, each approach has been shown to be effective in maintaining a blockchain. But the strategies used by the two algorithms are significantly different.

Block makers are referred to as validators under PoS. A validator keeps records, verifies activities, votes on results, and checks transactions. Block creators are known as miners in the PoW system. For the purpose of verifying transactions, miners attempt to find the hash, a cryptographic number. They receive a coin as compensation for deciphering the hash.

To qualify as a validator on a PoS blockchain you simply need to have enough coins or tokens in order to “buy into” the role of a block maker. For PoW, miners must make significant investments in processing hardware and pay high energy costs to power the machines running the computations.

PoW mining requires expensive energy and equipment, which restricts who may mine and increases the blockchain’s security. Blockchains with a PoS model require less computing power to verify blocks and transactions. Additionally, the approach reduces network congestion and gets rid of the motivation that PoW blockchains have based on rewards.

In conclusion

other consensus algorithms like Proof of Capacity (PoC), which provide sharing of memory space of the contributing nodes on the blockchain network, exist even though PoW and PoS are by far the most common in the blockchain sector. A node is given more rights to maintain the public ledger the more memory or hard disk space it has. The Decred blockchain’s Proof of Activity (PoA) protocol is a hybrid that combines elements of PoW and PoS. Another cryptocurrency that requires users to send small amounts of money to unreachable wallet addresses to effectively “burn” them out of existence is Proof of Burn (PoB).

There are also other mechanisms like the Proof of History (PoH), created by the Solana Project and analogous to Proof of Elapsed Time (PoET), which uses cryptography to encode the passage of time itself in order to reach a consensus without using a lot of resources.

Thank you for reading!

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