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Proof of Work (commonly abbreviated to PoW) is a mechanism for preventing double-spends. Most major cryptocurrencies use this as their consensus algorithm. That’s just what we call a method for securing the cryptocurrency’s ledger.
Proof of Work was the first consensus algorithm to surface, and, to date, remains the dominant one. It was introduced by Satoshi Nakamoto in the 2008 Bitcoin white paper, but the technology itself was conceived long before then.
Adam Back’s HashCash is an early example of a Proof of Work algorithm in the pre-cryptocurrency days. By requiring senders to perform a small amount of computing before sending an email, receivers could mitigate spam. This computation would cost virtually nothing to a legitimate sender, but quickly add up for someone sending emails en masse.
What is a double-spend?A double-spend occurs when the same funds are spent more than once. The term is used almost exclusively in the context of digital money — after all, you’d have a hard time spending the same physical cash twice. When you pay for a coffee today, you hand cash over to a cashier who probably locks it in a register. You can’t go to the coffee shop across the road and pay for another coffee with the same bill.
In digital cash schemes, there’s the possibility that you could. You’ve surely duplicated a computer file before — you just copy and paste it. You can email the same file to ten, twenty, fifty people.
Since digital money is just data, you need to prevent people from copying and spending the same units in different places. Otherwise, your currency will collapse in no time.
For a more in-depth look at double-spending, check out Double Spending Explained.
Why is Proof of Work necessary?If you’ve read our guide to blockchain technology, you’ll know that users broadcast transactions to the network. Those transactions aren’t immediately considered valid, though. That only happens when they get added to the blockchain.
The blockchain is a big database that every user can see, so they can check if funds have been spent before. Picture it like this: you and three friends have a notepad. Anytime one of you wants to make a transfer of whatever units you’re using, you write it down — Alice pays Bob five units, Bob pays Carol two units, etc.
There’s another intricacy here — each time you make a transaction, you refer to the transaction where the funds came from. So, if Bob was paying Carol with two units, the entry would actually look like the following: Bob pays Carol two units from this earlier transaction with Alice.
Now, we have a way to track the units. If Bob tries to make another transaction using the same units he just sent to Carol, everyone will know immediately. The group won’t allow the transaction to be added to the notepad.
Now, this might work well in a small group. Everyone knows each other, so they’ll probably agree on which of the friends should add transactions to the notepad. What if we want a group of 10,000 participants? The notepad idea doesn’t scale well, because nobody wants to trust a stranger to manage it.
This is where Proof of Work comes in. It ensures that users aren’t spending money that they don’t have the right to spend. By using a combination of game theory and cryptography, a PoW algorithm enables anyone to update the blockchain according to the rules of the system.
How does PoW work?Our notepad above is the blockchain. But we don’t add transactions one by one — instead, we lump them into blocks. We announce the transactions to the network, then users creating a block will include them in a candidate block. The transactions will only be considered valid once their candidate block becomes a confirmed block, meaning that it has been added to the blockchain.
Appending a block isn’t cheap, however. Proof of Work requires that a miner (the user creating the block) uses up some of their own resources for the privilege. That resource is computing power, which is used to hash the block’s data until a solution to a puzzle is found.
Hashing the block’s data means that you pass it through a hashing function to generate a block hash. The block hash works like a “fingerprint” — it’s an identity for your input data and is unique to each block.
It’s virtually impossible to reverse a block hash to get the input data. Knowing an input, however, it’s trivial for you to confirm that the hash is correct. You just have to submit the input through the function and check if the output is the same.
In Proof of Work, you must provide data whose hash matches certain conditions. But you don’t know how to get there. Your only option is to pass your data through a hash function and to check if it matches the conditions. If it doesn’t, you’ll have to change your data slightly to get a different hash. Changing even one character in your data will result in a totally different result, so there’s no way of predicting what an output might be.
As a result, if you want to create a block, you’re playing a guessing game. You typically take information on all of the transactions that you want to add and some other important data, then hash it all together. But since your dataset won’t change, you need to add a piece of information that is variable. Otherwise, you would always get the same hash as output. This variable data is what we call a nonce. It’s a number that you’ll change with every attempt, so you’re getting a different hash every time. And this is what we call mining.
Summing up, mining is the process of gathering blockchain data and hashing it along with a nonce until you find a particular hash. If you find a hash that satisfies the conditions set out by the protocol, you get the right to broadcast the new block to the network. At this point, the other participants of the network update their blockchains to include the new block.
For major cryptocurrencies today, the conditions are incredibly challenging to satisfy. The higher the hash rate on the network, the more difficult it is to find a valid hash. This is done to ensure that blocks aren’t found too quickly.
As you can imagine, trying to guess massive amounts of hashes can be costly on your computer. You’re wasting computational cycles and electricity. But the protocol will reward you with cryptocurrency if you find a valid hash.
Let’s recap what we know so far:
That’s where public-key cryptography comes in. We won’t go into depth in this article, but check out What is Public-Key Cryptography? for a comprehensive look at it. In short, we use some neat cryptographic tricks that allow any user to verify whether someone has a right to move the funds they’re attempting to spend.
When you create a transaction, you sign it. Anyone on the network can compare your signature with your public key, and check whether they match. They’ll also check if you can actually spend your funds and that the sum of your inputs is higher than the sum of your outputs (i.e., that you’re not spending more than you have).
Any block that includes an invalid transaction will be automatically rejected by the network. It’s expensive for you to even attempt to cheat. You’ll waste your own resources without any reward.
Therein lies the beauty of Proof of Work: it makes it expensive to cheat, but profitable to act honestly. Any rational miner will be seeking ROI, so they can be expected to behave in a way that guarantees revenue.
Proof of Work vs. Proof of StakeThere are many consensus algorithms, but one of the most highly-anticipated ones is Proof of Stake (PoS). The concept dates back to 2011, and has been implemented in some smaller protocols. But it has yet to see adoption in any of the big blockchains.
In Proof of Stake systems, miners are replaced with validators. There’s no mining involved and no race to guess hashes. Instead, users are randomly selected — if they’re picked, they must propose (or “forge”) a block. If the block is valid, they’ll receive a reward made up of the fees from the block’s transactions.
Not just any user can be selected, though — the protocol chooses them based on a number of factors. To be eligible, participants must lock up a stake, which is a predetermined amount of the blockchain’s native currency. The stake works like bail: just as defendants put up a large sum of money to disincentivize them from skipping trial, validators lock up a stake to disincentivize cheating. If they act dishonestly, their stake (or a portion of it) will be taken.
Proof of Stake does have some benefits over Proof of Work. The most notable one is the smaller carbon footprint — since there’s no need for high-powered mining farms in PoS, the electricity consumed is only a fraction of that consumed in PoW.
That said, it has nowhere near the track record of PoW. Although it could be perceived as wasteful, mining is the only consensus algorithm that’s proven itself at scale. In just over a decade, it has secured trillions of dollars worth of transactions. To say with certainty whether PoS can rival its security, staking needs to be properly tested in the wild.
Closing thoughtsProof of Work was the original solution to the double-spend problem and has proven to be reliable and secure. Bitcoin proved that we don’t need centralized entities to prevent the same funds from being spent twice. With clever use of cryptography, hash functions, and game theory, participants in a decentralized environment can agree on the state of a financial database.
Original article here: https://medium.com/wanchain-foundation/ama-with-wanchain-vp-lini-58ada078b4fesubmitted by maciej_wan to wanchain [link] [comments]
“What is unique about us is that we have actually put theory into practice.”https://preview.redd.it/n6lo2xcmtn621.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=281acce4b45eed8acf0c52b201d01cb6f0d13507
Wanchain’s Vice President of Business Development, Lini, sat down with blockchain media organization Neutrino for an AMA covering a wide range of topics concerning Wanchain’s development.
The following is an English translation of the original Chinese AMA which was held on December 13th, 2018:
Neutrino: Could you please first share with us a little basic background, what are the basic concepts behind cross chain technology? What are the core problems which are solved with cross-chain? In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge of implementing cross chain to achieve value transfer between different chains?
Lini: Actually, this question is quite big. Let me break it down into three smaller parts:
In China, we like to use the word “cross-chain”, the term “interoperability” is used more frequently in foreign countries. Interoperability is also one of the important technologies identified by Vitalik for the development of a future blockchain ecosystem mentioned in the Ethereum white paper. So cross-chain is basically the concept of interoperability between chains.
In essence, blockchain is a distributed bookkeeping technique, also known as distributed ledger technology. Tokens are the core units of account on each chain, there currently exist many different chains, each with their own token. Of especial importance is the way in which each ledger uses tokens to interact with each other for the purpose of clearing settlements.
Cross chain technology is one of the foundational technological infrastructures that is necessary for the large scale application of blockchain technology.
Neutrino: As we all know, there are many different kinds of cross-chain technologies. Please give us a brief introduction to several popular cross-chain technologies on the market, and the characteristics of each of these technologies。
Lini: Before answering this question, it is very important to share two important concepts with our friends: heterogeneity and homogeneity, and centralization and decentralization.
These two points are especially important for understanding various cross-chain technologies, because there are many different technologies and terminologies, and these are some of the foundational concepts needed for understanding them.
There are also two core challenges which must be overcome to implement cross-chain:
Combining the above two points, we look at the exploration of some solutions in the industry and the design concepts of other cross-chain projects.
First I’d like to discuss the Relay solution.
However the Relay solution must consume a relatively large amount of gas to read the BTC header. Another downside is that, as we all know, Bitcoin’s blocks are relatively slow, so the time to wait for verification will be long, it usually takes about 10 minutes to wait for one block to confirm, and the best practice is to wait for 6 blocks.
The next concept is the idea of Sidechains.
This solution is good, but not all chains contain SPV, a simple verification method. Therefore, there are certain drawbacks. Of course, this two way peg way solves challenge beta very well, that is, the atomicity of the transaction.
These two technical concepts have already been incorporated into a number of existing cross chain projects. Let’s take a look at two of the most influential of these.
The first is Polkadot.
This is just a summary based on Polkadot’s whitepaper and most recent developments. The theoretical design is very good and can solve challenges alpha and beta. Last week, Neutrino organized a meetup with Polkadot, which we attended. In his talk, Gavin’s focus was on governance, he didn’t get into too much technical detail, but Gavin shared some very interesting ideas about chain governance mechanisms! The specific technical details of Polkadot may have to wait until after their main net is online before it can be analyzed.
Next is Cosmos.
Cosmos is a star project who’s basic concept is similar to Polkadot. Cosmos’s approach is based on using a central hub. Both projects both take into account the issue of heterogeneous cross-chain transactions, and both have also taken into account how to solve challenges alpha and beta.
To sum up, each research and project team has done a lot of exploration on the best methods for implementing cross-chain technology, but many are still in the theoretical design stage. Unfortunately, since the main net has not launched yet, it is not possible to have a more detailed understanding of each project’s implementation. A blockchain’s development can be divided into two parts: theoretical design, and engineering implementation. Therefore, we can only wait until after the launch of each project’s main network, and then analyze it in more detail.
Neutrino: As mentioned in the white paper, Wanchain is a general ledger based on Ethereum, with the goal of building a distributed digital asset financial infrastructure. There are a few questions related to this. How do you solve Ethereum’s scaling problem? How does it compare with Ripple, which is aiming to be the standard trading protocol that is common to all major banks around the world? As a basic potential fundamental financial infrastructure, what makes Wanchain stand out?
Lini: This question is actually composed of two small questions. Let me answer the first one first.
The TPS of Ethereum is not high at this stage, which is limited by various factors such as the POW consensus mechanism. However, this point also in part is due to the characteristics of Ethereum’s very distributed and decentralized features. Therefore, in order to improve TPS, Wanchain stated in its whitepaper that it will launch its own POS consensus, thus partially solving the performance issues related to TPS. Wanchain’s POS is completely different from the POS mechanism of Ethereum 2.0 Casper.
Of course, at the same time, we are also paying close attention to many good proposals from the Ethereum community, such as sharding, state channels, side chains, and the Raiden network. Since blockchain exists in the world of open source, we can of course learn from other technological breakthroughs and use our own POS to further improve TPS. If we have some time at the end, I’d love to share some points about Wanchain’s POS mechanism.
Wanchain is focused on different use cases, it is to act as a bridge between different tokens and tokens, and between assets and tokens. For various cross-chain applications it is necessary to consume WAN as a gas fee to pay out to nodes.
So it seems that the purpose Ripple and Wanchain serve are quite different. Of course, there are notary witnesses in the cross-chain mechanism, that is, everyone must trust the middleman. Ripple mainly serves financial clients, banks, so essentially everyone’s trust is already there.
Neutrino: We see that Wanchain uses a multi-party computing and threshold key sharing scheme for joint anchoring, and achieves “minimum cost” for integration through cross-chain communication protocols without changing the original chain mechanism. What are the technical characteristics of multi-party computing and threshold key sharing? How do other chains access Wanchain, what is the cross-chain communication protocol here? What is the cost of “minimum cost?
Lini: The answer to this question is more technical, involving a lot of cryptography, I will try to explain it in a simple way.
In sMPC multiple parties each holding their own piece of private data jointly perform a calculation (for example, calculating a maximum value) and obtain a calculation result. However, in the process, each party involved does not leak any of their respective data. Essentially sMPC calculation can allow for designing a protocol without relying on any trusted third parties, since no individual ever has access to the complete private information.
Secure multiparty computing can be abstractly understood as two parties who each have their own private data, and can calculate the results of a public function without leaking their private data. When the entire calculation is completed, only the calculation results are revealed to both parties, and neither of them knows the data of the other party and the intermediate data of the calculation process. The protocol used for secure multiparty computing is homomorphic encryption + secret sharing + OT (+ commitment scheme + zero knowledge proofs, etc.)
Wanchain’s 21 cross chain Storeman nodes use sMPC to participate in the verification of a transaction without obtaining of a user’s complete private key. Simply put, the user’s private key will have 21 pieces given to 21 anonymous people who each can only get 1/21 part, and can’t complete the whole key.
Wanchain uses the threshold M<=N; N=21; M=16. That is to say, at least 16 Storeman nodes must participate in multi-party calculation to confirm a transaction. Not all 21 Storeman nodes are required to participate. This is a solution to the security problem of managing private keys.
Cross-chain communication protocols refers to the different communication methods used by different chains. This is because heterogeneous cross-chain methods can’t change the mechanism of the original chains. Nakamoto and Vitalik will not modify their main chains because they need BTC and ETH interoperability. Therefore, project teams that can only do cross-chain agreements to create different protocols for each chain to “talk”, or communicate. So the essence of a cross-chain protocol is not a single standard, but a multiple sets of standards. But there is still a shared sMPC and threshold design with the Storeman nodes.
The minimum cost is quite low, as can be shown with Wanchain 3.0’s cross chain implementation. In fact it requires just two smart contracts, one each on Ethereum and Wanchain to connect the two chains. To connect with Bitcoin all that is needed is to write a Bitcoin script. Our implementation guarantees both security and decentralization, while at the same time remaining simple and consuming less computation. The specific Ethereum contract and Bitcoin scripts online can be checked out by anyone interested in learning more.
Neutrino: What kind of consensus mechanism is currently used by Wanchain? In addition, what is the consensus and incentive mechanism for cross-chain transactions, and what is the purpose of doing so? And Wanchain will support cross-chain transactions (such as BTC, ETH) on mainstream public chains, asset cross-chain transactions between the alliance chains, and cross-chain transactions between the public and alliance chains, how can you achieve asset cross-chain security and privacy?
Lini: It is now PPOW (Permissioned Proof of Work), in order to ensure the reliability of the nodes before the cross-chain protocol design is completed, and to prepare to switch to POS (as according to the Whitepaper roadmap). The cross-chain consensus has been mentioned above, with the participation of a small consensus (at least 16 nodes) in a set of 21 Storeman nodes through sMPC and threshold secret sharing.
In addition, the incentive is achieved through two aspects: 1) 100% of the cross chain transaction fee is used to reward the Storeman node; 2) Wanchain has set aside a portion of their total token reserve as an incentive mechanism for encouraging Storeman nodes in case of small cross-chain transaction volume in the beginning.
It can be revealed that Storeman participation is opening gradually and will become completely distributed and decentralized in batches. The first phase of the Storeman node participation and rewards program is to be launched at the end of 2018. It is expected that the selection of participants will be completed within one quarter. Please pay attention to our official announcements this month.
In addition, for public chains, consortium chains, and private chains, asset transfer will also follow the cross-chain mechanism mentioned above, and generally follow the sMPC and threshold integration technology to ensure cross-chain security.
When it comes to privacy, this topic will be bigger. Going back to the Wanchain Whitepaper, we have provided privacy protection on Wanchain mainnet. Simply put, the principle is using ring signatures. The basic idea is that it mixes the original address with many other addresses to ensure privacy. We also use one-time address. In this mechanism a stamp system is used that generates a one-time address from a common address. This has been implemented since our 2.0 release.
But now only the privacy protection of native WAN transactions can be provided. The protection of cross-chain privacy and user experience will also be one of the important tasks for us in 2019.
Neutrino: At present, Wanchain uses Storeman as a cross-chain trading node. Can you introduce the Storeman mechanism and how to protect these nodes?
Lini: Let me one problem from two aspects.
Neutrino: On December 12th, the mainnet of Wanchain 3.0 was launched. Wanchain 3.0 opened cross-chain transactions between Bitcoin, Ethereum and ERC20 (such as MakerDao’s stable currency DAI and MKR). What does this version mean for you and the industry? This upgrade of cross-chain with Bitcoin is the biggest bright spot. So, if now you are able to use Wanchain to make transactions between what is the difference between tokens, then what is the difference between a cross chain platform like Wanchain and cryptocurrency exchanges?
Lini: The release of 3.0 is the industry’s first major network which has crossed ETH and BTC, and it has been very stable so far. As mentioned above, many cross-chain, password-protected theoretical designs are very distinctive, but for engineering implementation, the whether or not it can can be achieved is a big question mark. Therefore, this time Wanchain is the first network launched in the world to achieve this. Users are welcome to test and attack. This also means that Wanchain has connected the two most difficult and most challenging public networks. We are confident we will soon be connecting other well-known public chains.
At the same time of the release of 3.0, we also introduced cross chain integration with other ERC20 tokens in the 2.X version, such as MakerDao’s DAI, MKR, LRC, etc., which also means that more tokens of excellent projects on Ethereum will also gradually be integrated with Wanchain.
Some people will be curious, since Wanchain has crossed so many well-known public chains/projects; how is it different with crypto exchanges? In fact, it is very simple, one centralized; one distributed. Back to the white paper of Nakamoto, is not decentralization the original intention of blockchain? So what Wanchain has to do is essentially to solve the bottom layer of the blockchain, one of the core technical difficulties.
Anyone trying to create a DEX (decentralized exchange); digital lending and other application scenarios can base their application on Wanchain. There is a Wanchain based DEX prototype made by our community members Jeremiah and Harry, which quite amazing. Take a look at this video below.
Neutrino: What are the specific application use cases after the launch of Wanchain 3.0? Most are still exploring small-scale projects. According to your experience, what are the killer blockchain applications of the future? What problems need to be solved during this period? How many years does it take?
Lini: As a cross-chain public chain, we are not biased towards professional developers or ordinary developers, and they are all the same. As mentioned above, we provide a platform as infrastructure, and everyone is free to develop applications on us.
For example, if it is a decentralized exchange, it must be for ordinary users to trade on; if it is some kind of financial derivatives product, it is more likely to be used by finance professionals. As for cross-chain wallets which automatically exchange, I’m not sure if you are talking about distributed exchanges, the wallet will not be “automatic” at first, but you can “automatically” redeem other tokens.
Finally, the remaining WAN tokens are strictly in accordance with the plan laid out in the whitepaper. For example, the POS node reward mentioned above will give 10% of the total amount for reward. At the same time, for the community, there are also rewards for the bounty program. The prototype of the DEX that I just saw is a masterpiece of the overseas community developers, and also received tokens from our incentive program.
Neutrino community member’s question: There are many projects in the market to solve cross-chain problems, such as: Cosmos, Polkadot, what are Wanchain’s advantages and innovations relative to these projects?
Lini: As I mentioned earlier, Cosmos and pPolkadot all proposed very good solutions in theory. Compared with Wanchain, I don’t think that we have created anything particularly unique in our theory. The theoretical basis for our work is cryptography, which is derived from the academic foundation of scholars such as Yao Zhizhi and Silvio Micali. Our main strong point is that we have taken theory and put it into practice..
Actually, the reason why people often question whether a blockchain project can be realized or not is because the whitepapers are often too ambitious. Then when they actually start developing there are constant delays and setbacks. So for us, we focus on completing our very solid and realizable engineering goals. As for other projects, we hope to continue to learn from each other in this space.
Neutrino community member Amos from Huobi Research Institute question: How did you come to decide on 21 storeman nodes?
Lini: As for the nodes we won’t make choices based on quantity alone. The S in the POS actually also includes the time the tokens are staked, so that even if a user is staking less tokens, the amount of time they stake them for will also be used to calculate the award, so that is more fair. We designed the ULS (Unique Leader Selection) algorithm in order to reduce the reliance on the assumption of corruption delay (Cardano’s POS theory). which is used for ensuring fairness to ensure that all participants in the system can have a share of the reward, not only few large token holders.
Wu Di, a member of the Neutrino community: Many big exchanges have already begun to deploy decentralized exchanges. For example, Binance, and it seems that the progress is very fast. Will we be working with these influential exchanges in the future? We we have the opportunity to cooperate with them and broaden our own influence?
Lini: I also have seen some other exchange’s DEX. Going back the original point, distributed cross-chain nodes and centralized ones are completely different. I’m guessing that most exchanges use a centralized cross-chain solution, so it may not be the same as the 21 member Storeman group of Wanchain, but I think that most exchanges will likely be using their own token and exchange system. This is my personal understanding. But then, if you are developing cross chain technology, you will cooperate with many exchanges that want to do a DEX. Not only Binance, but also Huobi, Bithumb, Coinbase… And if there is anyone else who would like to cooperate we welcome them!
Neutrino community member AnneJiang from Maker: Dai as the first stable chain of Wanchain will open a direct trading channel between Dai and BTC. In relation to the Dai integration, has any new progress has been made on Wanchain so far?
Lini: DAI’s stable currency has already been integrated on Wanchain. I just saw it yesterday, let me give you a picture. It’s on the current 3.0 browser, https://www.wanscan.org/, you can take a look at it yourself.
This means that users with DAI are now free to trade for BTC, or ETH or some erc20 tokens. There is also a link to the Chainlink, and LRC is Loopring, so basically there are quite a few excellent project tokens. You may use the Wanchain to trade yourself, but since the DEX is not currently open, currently you can only trade with friends you know.
About NeutrinoNeutrino is a distributed, innovative collaborative community of blockchains. At present, we have established physical collaboration spaces in Tokyo, Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai and other places, and have plans to expand into important blockchain innovation cities such as Seoul, Thailand, New York and London. Through global community resources and partnerships, Neutrino organizes a wide range of online an offline events, seminars, etc. around the world to help developers in different regions better communicate and share their experiences and knowledge.
About WanchainWanchain is a blockchain platform that enables decentralized transfer of value between blockchains. The Wanchain infrastructure enables the creation of distributed financial applications for individuals and organizations. Wanchain currently enables cross-chain transactions with Ethereum, and today’s product launch will enable the same functionalities with Bitcoin. Going forward, we will continue to bridge blockchains and bring cross-chain finance functionality to companies in the industry. Wanchain has employees globally with offices in Beijing (China), Austin (USA), and London (UK).
You can find more information about Wanchain on our website. Additionally, you can reach us through Telegram, Discord, Medium, Twitter, and Reddit. You can also sign up for our monthly email newsletter here.
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