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Energy Efficient Bitcoin Alternative

07 Oct 2019   #Bitcoin

It is generally known that one of the major problems associated with Bitcoin mining and transaction handling is the astronomically high consumption of electricity and the unaffordably high carbon footprint. Some projects make an attempt to counter these problems by transitioning to the mining methods that involve the use of renewables, and other eco-friendly means. But while it may have a positive effect on the carbon emission, but it doesn't satisfy Bitcoin’s gluttony for electricity. Though it doesn’t mean that no one is trying to come up with an appropriate solution.

The group of scientists from the Lausanne Polytechnic School in Switzerland claims to have created a unique algorithm, which bears a lot of similarity to the one of Bitcoin, but with one major difference that lies in its capability of radically reducing the cost of energy required to transact cryptocurrency.

The absence of consensus turns out to be a good thing

The essential idea about the cost-efficient crypto mining and transacting belongs to Professor Rachid Guerraoui, who worked ceaselessly with his colleagues from the School of Computer and Communication Sciences (IC). After months of hard work, they have come up with an algorithm called the Byzantine Reliable Broadcast that is capable of changing the way that the network transactions are confirmed.

As Mr. Guerraoui explains it, the Byzantine algorithm doesn’t need the consensus between all network participants to be established in order to verify the transactions. According to the professor, it’s that precise consensus-finding that turns transactions into the literal devouring of electricity with the subsequent emission of enormous amounts of CO2. As of now, the Bitcoin network uses as much electricity as a mid-sized country like Austria, while the carbon emission can be compared to that of Denmark. Logically, the inevitable growth of the global Bitcoin network would require even more electricity, which may eventually pose a real problem for the further development of the first cryptocurrency.

The Bizantine Reliable Broadcast takes consensus out of the equation, thus changing the entire approach to establishing digital trust. Apparently, one of the leading scientists also has a legal background since the newly presented algorithm is based on the legal principle of the presumption of innocence. According to this concept, all network participants are to be considered “innocent until proven guilty.” In other words, the system considers all users as trustworthy by default, until the malicious activity, or an attempt at such, is detected by the algorithm or other participants. In that case, the perpetrator will get automatically ignored by the system. That way, the amount of consumed electricity would be comparable to that required to send an email. 

Communication is of the essence

The theoretical part concerning the Byzantine algorithm was revealed at the 2019 ACM Symposium on Principles of Distributed Computing, which took place earlier this year in Toronto. It stipulates that the participants would have to communicate with each other to confirm the transactions. This means that the money transfer won’t go through in the system that employs the Byzantine Reliable Broadcast until a randomly selected user confirms that the transaction doesn’t constitute an act of double-spending.

The scientists point out that at this stage, the algorithm is applicable only for transactions and management of crypto assets. Further improvements in terms of applicability and scalability are currently underway.

Author: Alex Paulson for


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