Different consensus algorithms power Blockchain technology. It is the consensus algorithm of a given Blockchain that determines how nodes participate in sharing of the database of such Blockchain.
A growing trend within the Blockchain ecosystem is the combination of two or more consensus algorithms by solution providers. By doing so, Blockchain developers seek to employ the various strengths of different algorithms in order to achieve a more robust platform.
There is no perfect Blockchain
Previn Kutty, Blockchain solutions architect, notes that several consensus algorithms have been introduced on the Blockchain. These are proof of work, proof of stake, proof of service, proof of burn, proof of space, byzantine fault tolerance etc., all of them claiming to solve the cryptocurrencies / Blockchain challenges for decentralized control, low latency, flexible trust, less resource intensive, asymptotic security, etc.
However, it is now widespread knowledge that each of these algorithms has their particular areas of strength and weaknesses, a development that Kutty describes as a “one size doesn’t fit all” scenario.
Kutty tells Cointelegraph:
“There is the lingering question of one size consensus doesn’t fit for all, as each Blockchain app has their own challenges and the entire Blockchain community is exploring new opportunities for everyday consensus challenges, which is good as it promises more and more opportunities for technological development in consensus arena.”
Bjorn Bjercke, Blockchain developer, explains that in isolation the various consensus algorithms tend to reveal profound weaknesses within their systems.
Bjercke mentions examples such as proof of stake, which has been discovered to have issues with safety, and proof of service that according to him has been proven to be hackable.
As for proof of authority, Bjercke notes despite having proven to be safe. It is a centralized system, therefore defeating the initial idea of the Blockchain.
Synergy of algorithms
In a previous report by Cointelegraph, Inpay was noted to harness the properties of Ethereum Classic and Waves in enabling features such as decentralized voting systems and aliases.
Another project that claims to be harnessing the qualities of multiple Blockchains is Qtum Foundation’s Sparknet. This project claims to combine the advantages of Bitcoin, Ethereum’s Virtual Machine and proof-of-stake consensus.
Jordan Earls, co-founder of Qtum, says that the testnet would feature an Ethereum Virtual Machine smart contract implementation along with Qtum’s proof-of-stake protocol.
“I am ready to get this in the hands of the community and see what everyone’s response to it will be, in particular, what features other developers can come up with.”
Internal division of labor
Still, in its early stages of development, it is natural that the Blockchain ecosystem continues to experience twitches and adjustments. The weaknesses of the various consensus algorithms in existence are becoming more and more exposed as more products are built on top of these platforms.
However, with the developing trend of combining multiple systems, improved efficiency can be achieved with the creation of more robust systems. In doing so, the various responsibilities within the given project are split among the individual algorithms that make up the platform.
Bjercke explains that a typical scenario involves splitting the Blockchain into having transactions on one side and transaction cost on the other, thereby making two different entries in the ledger when adopting a triple hash proof of work combined with proof of stake for transaction cost.