A team of developers has came up with a family of new consensus protocols for blockchains. Recently announced by the Cornell University professor and blockchain researcher Emin Gun Sirer, these new protocols were designed to combine the “classical consensus” and “Nakamoto consensus” models in blockchain network decision-making.
“The way this protocol works is incredibly simple yet incredibly powerful,” he said.
Sirer said they’ve been working on the white paper for this protocol family for months, but it was actually developed by a pseudonymous team called “Team Rocket,” named after the Pokemon characters.
Snowflake, Snowball and Avalanche
Those are the names of new protocols, which reach the consensus by randomly sampling network participants, and ultimately choosing a single result.
“They rely on randomness and they rely on random interactions and yet they ensure after the interactions everyone has decided the same thing,” Sirer said.
From the white paper:
Inspired by gossip algorithms, this new family gains its safety through a deliberately metastable mechanism. Specifically, the system operates by repeatedly sampling the network at random, and steering the correct nodes towards the same outcome.
In comparison, the Nakamoto consensus protocols — which are used in the Bitcoin network — require miners to agree to a specific decision before it can be enacted, whereas classical consensus requires a two-thirds plus one majority.
For what it matters, said gossip algorithms are used in Hashgraph, which promises to deliver more efficient DLT solutions.
Not everyone thinks this is a novel breakthrough
One of them is Vlad Zamfir, the leading researcher behind Ethereum’s upcoming proof-of-stake protocol Casper CBC, who turned to Twitter to share his disagreement.
First he said that we shouldn’t “take a probabilistic model of the network for granted,” only to add later that “it’s not asynchronously safe and it’s probabilistic” and that the proposed solution is “more like the worst of both worlds.”
Guess there’s room for different points of view, at least until these new protocols are implemented, and we get to see the first results. More to come, obviously…