February 25, 2020, Shanghai,China — Dr. Peter Zhou, the Chief Scientist at VeChain, and Dr. Zhijie Ren, the Senior Researcher on Blockchain at VeChain, recently published a preprint paper titled ‘SURFACE: A Practical Blockchain Consensus Algorithm for Real-World Networks’. The paper introduces a next-generation Proof-of-Authority (hereafter referred to as PoA 2.0-SURFACE) consensus algorithm for blockchain networks.
The new consensus algorithm PoA 2.0-SURFACE, is characterized as a Secure, Use-case adaptive, and Relatively Fork-free Approach of Chain Extension.
Shared as a preprint, this work intends to introduce VeChain’s research on PoA 2.0-SURFACE to the public as early as possible, increasing scholarly communication and awareness on the unique business friendly features of VeChainThor Blockchain. The pioneering work on highly effective and stable blockchain infrastructure will benefit businesses and projects with solutions deployed and built on the VeChainThor Blockchain in many areas, and will help attract even more enterprises into the VeChain ecosystem.
The Consensus For Security, Speed, Stability
PoA 2.0-SURFACE is a blockchain consensus algorithm that enjoys the benefits from both the Nakamoto Consensus and Byzantine Fault Tolerance (BFT) consensus. The former allows the system to achieve a near-optimal throughput and latency performance most of the time, while the latter guarantees uncompromised ledger consistency (security) even when the network is strictly asynchronous.
To give more technical details, PoA 2.0-SURFACE uses a verifiable random function (VRF) based mechanism to select a committee (a bunch of consensus nodes) to endorse for a block in every consensus round. As a result, the chain is very unlikely to be forked and can be confirmed within less rounds. Moreover, the authors borrowed ideas from latest research on blockchain, e.g., the HotStuff BFT, to deliver a provable block finality. These features will benefit businesses and users of the blockchain in a variety of ways, which will be explained below.
Consensus For Business Adoption
To satisfy the demanding security needs of enterprise users, PoA 2.0-SURFACE uses a VRF-based random beacon generation mechanism. With this new mechanism, we balance the unpredictability and the unbiasedness of the block-proposing-schedule, i.e., the adversaries are neither able to bias the schedule in their favor to perform an attack, nor make predictions of the schedule in a period ahead of time (such as one day) to corrupt honest users to help their attack.
To achieve better security with a shorter confirmation time, PoA 2.0-SURFACE adds a committee-endorsing mechanism, which is equivalent to collecting more trailing blocks (similar to the confirmation in Bitcoin) without actually waiting for the block intervals. We could then run tests on the testnet and adjust the committee size according to our network characteristics to optimize the throughput and latency, which is not possible with any other existing algorithm.
In addition, PoA 2.0-SURFACE allows the absolute finality of transactions for the safety and accuracy of business practice. In public blockchains with a Nakamoto consensus, a “confirmed” transaction is not final in the sense that there will always be a possibility, no matter how small it is, that there exists another longer chain which could nullify it. This is in general not a desirable feature for enterprise users who are dealing with real-world businesses. Therefore, apart from the normal confirmation of blocks, PoA 2.0-SURFACE will use a BFT based scheme to allow blocks to be finalized after a relatively short period of time, so that the block can absolutely not be forked.
VeChain As Pioneer In Both Blockchain Adoption and Technology
It has been the prevailing norm within the blockchain industry to devote high amounts of resources and technical efforts on research and development of the technical aspects of blockchain technology. This causes the vast majority of companies and projects in the industry to be stuck in a loop within the technical consensus phase, hampering efforts for the actual application or adoption of the technology itself.
VeChain, on the other hand, has identified clear stages in order for blockchain technology to be mass adopted in our daily lives. In our Whitepaper 2.0 Section 1, three major phases of blockchain evolvement were laid out, that is, technical consensus, business consensus, and governance consensus. These phases are the foundation and guiding strategy for VeChain’s development direction, ensuring that we do not remain stagnant as an organization.
The business consensus stage is primarily characterized by increasing engagement from business executives and decision makers, who have noticed the success of blockchain technology in proof-of-concepts and continues to invest in the technology to gain a lead over competitors.
For long-term development and the robustness of the ecosystem, it is essential for the industry to acknowledge the significance of business involvement, and the mutual benefits of integrating existing real economy systems with blockchain technology. Solution providers must in turn, ensure that their blockchain is reliable and easy-to-use in order to convince businesses to adopt blockchain technology.
VeChain has long been establishing itself within the enterprise world, partnering with an increasing number of businesses that are attracted to our industry-leading blockchain solutions. Through the use of our BaaS Data Platform, VeChain ToolChain™, over 50 enterprise clients are running business activities on the VeChainThor Blockchain mainnet with minimal technical knowledge required. VeChain ToolChain™ is specifically developed to excel at the business consensus stage, as blockchain-powered use cases can be deployed by businesses onto the mainnet in a rapid manner.
The PoA 2.0-SURFACE, once approved and implemented, will pave our way even further in the technical and business consensus stage. VeChain continues to be the pioneer for both blockchain integration and implementation in the real business world, as well as the prevailing market leader in blockchain technology itself.
Launched in 2015, VeChain aims to connect blockchain technology to the real world by providing a comprehensive governance structure, a robust economic model, and IoT integration. VeChain is the pioneer of real-world applications using public blockchain technology, with international operations in Singapore, Luxembourg, Tokyo, Shanghai, Paris, Hong Kong, and San Francisco. Together with our strategic partners PwC and DNV GL, we have established cooperative relations with many leading enterprises in different industries, including Walmart China, BMW, BYD Auto, Haier, H&M, LVMH, D.I.G, ENN, AWS, PICC, ASI etc.
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