What’s the difference and why does it matter?
Consensus represents an agreement between users as to what proposals to accept/reject and is fundamental to decision-making in blockchain.
In this article, we explore the mechanics behind the two major types of consensus, Proof of Work (PoW) and Proof of Stake (PoS), evaluating their use within blockchain before detailing the relevance of Tendermint to the Kujira Ecosystem.
Proof of Work (PoW)
How Does It Work?
Picture a digital Colosseum where miners, armed with powerful computers, battle to solve complex puzzles.
This is the essence of Proof of Work, the original blockchain gladiator.
Here, ‘miners’ work to ‘mine’ new blocks and add them to the blockchain, receiving cryptocurrency as a reward, typically paid in the native token.
Running a PoW network is incredibly expensive, creating high barriers to entry for prospective ‘miners’, thereby providing an effective shield against manipulation.
However, its strength is also its Achilles heel.
These high barriers to entry mean only the wealthiest can compete, creating the potential for centralization of power to specific individuals. Evidently, this is less than ideal, and the very thing blockchain technology set out to dismantle.
Further, despite being secure and proven, PoW has drawn the ire of environmentalists worldwide, outraged by the computational power required by PoW consensus algorithms.
Now we explore Proof of Stake (PoS), PoW’s eco-friendly contender.
Proof of Stake (PoS)
How Does It Work?
Proof of Stake is a more refined and energy-conscious consensus algorithm that requires validators to lock up a portion of their coins, with this representing their stake in the network.
In PoS, validators are responsible for proposing blocks to the networks. The other validators then vote on whether to accept or reject the block. If a block receives a 2/3 majority of votes, it is added to the blockchain.
Securing The Network
Economic incentives are provided to ensure network security, with slashing a good example.
Slashing is a punishment imposed on a validator for malicious behavior, such as going offline or double signing, and serves as a useful method of securing the network.
After all, if they act maliciously, they stand to lose large portions of their stake, creating a self-regulating system grounded in accountability.
Whilst PoS is undoubtedly a cleaner, greener approach that sidesteps the colossal energy demands of its predecessor, it’s not without its pitfalls.
Similar to Proof of Work, the concentration of wealth/voting power poses a risk, as an individual can exert undue influence on the direction of the blockchain if they have a large enough stake.
To achieve consensus, there must be a 51% majority. This would require an individual/group of individuals to own over 50% of the staked asset, which is nearly impossible.
Kujira x Tendermint
Tendermint: Achieving Consensus
Kujira is a Cosmos-based blockchain that utilizes the Tendermint consensus algorithm to achieve consensus among its validators.
Tendermint utilizes a Byzantine Fault Tolerance (BFT) consensus algorithm, which describes the ability of a system to continue functioning correctly as long as two-thirds of the network reaches consensus.
Through harnessing this BFT consensus model, Tendermint’s system can resist up to one-third of the nodes failing, ensuring robustness and consensus amongst network participants.
Benefits To Kujira
Tendermint’s consensus algorithm is a key component of the Kujira blockchain, providing high transaction throughput, low latency, and security to network participants.
Tendermint Core is a core piece of this puzzle, requiring an intermediary to ensure transactions are replicated and validated across the blockchain.
This peer-to-peer ‘gossiping’ system enables high transaction throughput and low latency, meaning transactions to be confirmed in a heartbeat without the requirement of multiple confirmations. Instant finality.
Further, developers are also able to craft applications in any language of their choosing, through utilizing a simple yet powerful Application Blockchain Interface (ABCI).
So, that’s PoW and PoS in a nutshell, but what does the future of consensus hold?
The Future Of Consensus
The debate between PoW and PoS represents a crucial juncture in the evolution of blockchain technology.
Whilst PoW is the original guardian, PoS is quickly emerging as the agile and efficient challenger, with the scales seemingly tipping in its favor as blockchain adapts to a world where sustainability is no longer a luxury, but a necessity.
As this industry develops, protocols will face a choice between PoW and PoS, with their decision shaping the future of consensus, and ultimately the direction of blockchain technology.
Hence, understanding these two methods of reaching a consensus is vital for developers and investors alike, providing valuable insight into how protocols enable transactions, establish governance, and secure networks.
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