The Hedera Hashgraph platform is a new form of distributed consensus. Like other peer-to-peer platforms, it eliminates the need for a middleman to complete transactions.
Their website reads: “The platform is lightning fast (with about 10,000 transactions per second), fair, secure and unlike some blockchain-based platforms, does not require proof-of-work computation. heavy”.
Proof-of-work belongs to a piece of data that is difficult to produce but easy to verify. In the space of cryptocurrencies, it is used on blockchains to verify transactions are legit. It helps to make sure the blockchain runs as transparently as possible.
What is Hedera Hashgraph?
The Hedera website notes that the platform can process hundreds of thousands of transactions per second and can verify over a million signatures per second.
The platform is supposed to ensure that no users block the flow of transactions from entering the community. They also claim that no small group of people can influence the consensus order of transactions, stating, “These features are not yet available in many distributed ledger technologies, but are a necessity.” essential for today’s existing applications”.
Byzantine synchronous fault tolerance system
There’s a reason why all of this is so promising and why Hedera Hashgraph could potentially revolutionize the way applications work. This is because Hedera uses “asynchronous Byzantine fault tolerance” (aBFT).
In a podcast interview with Hidden Forces, founder and chief scientist at Hedera Hashgraph, Dr. Leemon Baird revealed that, “Byzantine fault tolerance (BFT) means when you try to find fault tolerance (BFT). Once you figure out the order of the transactions, the time will come when you will know that you have reached a consensus. Ultimately, BFT is synonymous with three things:
- We will reach consensus
- We will know when we reach consensus
- We will never be wrong – you are mathematically guaranteed, and will reach exactly the same consensus.
That’s the Byzantines.”
He went on to state that the BFT can be fully synchronous or partially synchronous. But either way, both are guaranteed to generate the same consensus.
aBFT in Hashgraph’s scope means “there are no assumptions about how fast messages are transmitted over the internet, making it resilient to DDoS attacks, botnets and firewalls. Hashgraph is mathematically guaranteed to reach consensus and is secure as long as less than 1/3 of the participants are malicious.”
A DDoS attack is a malicious attack that disrupts the normal traffic of the targeted server. It will overwhelm the targeted server/network by “flooding” it with internet traffic. By preventing DDoS attacks, Hashgraph could theoretically prevent bad influences from disrupting the platform.
“Gossip” protocol and other features
Another feature in Hashgraph is their ongoing rumor protocol. Nodes (computers or other devices) exchange data with other nodes to build a cryptographically secured Hashgraph data structure.
Hedera’s website notes that, “using this rumor protocol as input, nodes will run the same virtual voting consensus algorithm as other nodes. The community reaches a chronological consensus without any communication over the internet.”
Hedera’s cryptocurrency is HBAR. Since Hedera has removed traditional proof-of-work algorithms, the HBAR token will have high throughput, with low fees and realistic micropayments. Developers of decentralized applications (dApps) will also be able to pay for services on the network using HBAR. These services include transaction processing, smart contract running, and file storage.
The Hedera smart contract will be written in ‘Solidity’ on their network. Decentralized applications built on the Hedera Hashgraph platform can use these smart contracts with greater speed and efficiency than ever before.
The Hedera Hashgraph project is certainly ambitious in its attempt to compete with blockchain technology. While Hashgraph is still a form of distributed ledger technology, it is not exactly a blockchain either. Initially, Hashgraph was not open source, until the creators of the Hashgraph algorithm patented it.
However, in October 2018, Hedera released the Hedera SDK in Java. Since the release of the SDK, developers have been able to develop Hedera-based applications for use on the platform. It also supports three services that were previously offered: cryptocurrency, smart contracts, and file storage. The SDK can be found on GitHub here.
Hashgraph is still relatively new, and it remains to be seen how powerful it could potentially become. It seems that all platforms are ready.
However, there are still lingering questions about how decentralized it is. This is because they have a board of directors consisting of 39 businesses. Hedera believes that the board will ensure “no single member has control and no small group of members has influence over the entire mechanism”.
Despite the assurance from Hedera, in reality it is not fully decentralized if there is governance overseeing the platform. It’s not that the council already has a bad reputation, but it’s also unclear about their role and the power they possess. It’s not that they’re going to do something wrong, it’s just that they probably will. This is a concern shared by many, Reddit user u/quyhp pointed out in 2018.
The virtual voting consensus algorithm is likely to have major implications for all decentralized applications in the future. By eliminating proof-of-work, it will allow applications and platforms to work much faster. Time will prove whether it works well or not.
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