Understanding Consensus Protocols And How They Can Affect Blockchain App Development

2018-10-24 by Melissa Crooks

Before anyone (app developers and development companies inclusive) can effectively adopt blockchain technology, it is highly important for them to get educated and understand how the system operates among many other aspects. While the technology could function as a transaction platform or a ledger or even a currency, it is imperative to understand, that blockchain is made of different aspects and components that can even be more than a process improvement technology.


One major area that many developers have really tried to wrap their heads around is in the aspect of consensus protocols. These (consensus mechanisms) can be simply referred to as the engine or vehicle of communication designed to lead those interested in the technology on the innovation path. There is no way a new service model and technology can be enabled on the blockchain without understanding its consensus protocol.


What are consensus protocols?


In the crypto world, these mechanisms have to do with a set of established guidelines or rules that allows the nodes available on a network to effectively communicate with each other and arrive at a consensus, hence the name “Consensus Protocol.” Since the blockchain has no central authority guiding its operations, then there is the need for a consensus mechanism that is designed to ensure that no one tampers information available on the distributed database – “digital ledger."


When it comes to blockchain development, it is important for mobile app developers to understand that the blockchain technology functions as a decentralized network and, as such, has no database admin. This is why the blockchain is so special. Before any can participate in the network, they will need to become a node by setting up a server and joining the blockchain. In order to support a decision in the best interest of the whole, members of the network will firstly need to come into agreement.


As part of efforts to effectively record transactions of activities within the blockchain, some innovations like Bitcoin are leveraging a public digital ledger as their blockchain technology. So, this implies that transaction records are made public particularly when it comes to making digital payments – i.e. movement of cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin) from one address to another. Here, it is easy to verify if a participating member of the network has got enough funds to make a particular payment beforehand.


Types of consensus protocols


For an app developer to be able to effectively adopt blockchain as a new form technology, there is the need to understand the type of consensus protocol available and how it is been employed within the distributed system. It is these elements that determine the type of offering that every blockchain existing today provides.


In a bid to help developers understand what the blockchain technology is all about and learn how best to employ it, below are some helpful tips on the various types of consensus protocols adopted by many exciting blockchains today.


Proof of Work


Commonly known as POW, Proof of Work is the most popular of all consensus protocols existing today. Just so you know, it is the first-ever mechanism to be adopted as a consensus protocol for a blockchain. It was invented by Satoshi Nakamoto who is referred to as the founder of Bitcoins. Basically, it works by allowing miners add new blocks of the transaction to the blockchain. However, this can only be done by those who find the hash first.


It is like rewarding miners for a job well done. Generally, miners will need to possess a high hashrate before they can be able to calculate the hash thereby making the mining process highly computation-intensive. Any app developer seeking to adopt the first public blockchain – Bitcoin should prepare to engage in a hash puzzle – i.e. compete to solve in a cryptographic problem.


Proof of Stake


Unlike Proof of Work where computational work is required to enable miners to create new transaction blocks, Proof of Stake is simply based on the participants’ coin stake. Instead of miners, PoS makes use of forgers whose main responsibility is to stake coins. The more coins staked, the more likely they’d be able to include a new block of the transaction to the blockchain.


Unlike PoW, PoS does not reward its members (forgers) for staking. Here, only the transaction fee is seen as the staker’s reward. When it comes to the distribution of tokens based on investment, this is the most adopted approach by most platforms involved with crowdsale funding due to its lower energy-intensive nature. Undoubtedly, this will surely make a great choice for app developers looking to adopt a platform with static coin supply.


Delegated Proof of Stake


Here, delegates (or witnesses) are assigned to perform various duties aimed at maintaining the network such as validating signatures and time-stamping transactions. The consensus protocol works by allowing users to vote for delegates. As a variation of PoS, DPoS is established to give users more ownership and influence in the network by enabling them to vote in or out whoever they want.


Though many professionals regard Delegated Proof of Stake as a semi-centralized network, it is, however, renowned for its ability to offer better scalability. When compared to PoS and PoW, DPoS may present a better choice for mobile app developers based on the grounds of scalability. It also allows users to vote on changing the network parameter. This protocol simply operates like a democratic system of government.


Proof of Authority


Like DPoS and PoS, PoA assigns more powers to validators – a group of preselected authorities – to produce new blocks and manage the blockchain. This consensus algorithm is known to possess some kind of centralized elements in it owing to the fact that its trust system is predetermined. Here, developers will need to have verified accounts so as to be able to get their transactions validated. While PoA is generally known to be highly centralized, it is, also known to be fast and scalable.

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Melissa Crooks

Melissa Crooks

Hyperlink InfoSystem

Melissa Crooks is Content Writer who writes for Hyperlink InfoSystem, one of the leading app development companies in New York, USA & India that holds the best team of skilled and expert app developers. She is a versatile tech writer and loves exploring latest technology trends, entrepreneur and startup column. She also writes for top app development companies.

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