Over the past few weeks, there has been a lot of talk about a new technology known as Hashgraph. So far, a lot of people have no idea what this is, let alone why it should matter in the first place. According to the Swirlds team, Hashgraph is a new consensus algorithm based on distributed ledger technology. It certainly lacks some of the features one would associate with a proper blockchain, but that doesn’t mean this technology is useless by any means.
Hashgraph Achieves Consensus Without Proof of Work
Over the past few years, we have seen multiple attempts to achieve consensus using a blockchain or distributed ledger. In the world of cryptocurrency, the most obvious solution is proof of work, even though proof of stake is also useful in a way. However, there are those entities which don’t want to rely on either of these models and attempt to come up with their own solutions. Hashgraph is one such creation which seems appealing on paper, although its actual viability remains to be determined.
According to the Swirlds team, Hashgraph is the “future of the internet and decentralized technology.” That’s a very bold statement made up of a lot of fancy words, but backing up such claims is something else entirely. This new distributed ledger technology is cost-effective, as it doesn’t require proof of work like Bitcoin does. It also seems a lot quicker, with a transaction throughput of 50,000 times that of most blockchains.
The team also promises there are no stale blocks and that there will be some mathematical improvements under the hood. Despite these bold claims, most everyday consumers will not show much interest until these words give way to a working product. No one can deny that blockchains are all the rage right now. Coming up with a vastly superior solution will not be easy by any means, regardless of the bold claims being made. Only time will tell if Hashgraph stands out from the pack.
Achieving the aforementioned transaction throughput is done through the use of pre-sharding. Ethereum developers have also been looking at the concept of sharding these days, which should speed up the throughput by quite a margin. The mathematically proven fairness of Hashgraph means that no individual can manipulate the order of transactions. That in itself is rather interesting, as miners prioritize transactions based on network fees in the cryptocurrency world.
That being said, the consensus model still leaves a lot of questions on the table. While it seems that Asynchronous Byzantine Fault Tolerance will preclude individuals conducting nefarious activity from preventing consensus altogether, the underlying technology to achieve said consensus in Hashgraph remains shrouded in mystery. We do know it utilizes virtual voting, which doesn’t require actual votes. Instead, it seems Hashgraph uses Gossip to determine how nodes would vote. In this system, every node will know what other nodes know and when they knew it.
This is an interesting approach, although it remains to be determined how the rest of the world will respond to this new algorithm. It sounds interesting on paper, but until it is put through the wringer in the real world, no one can truly gauge its potential. This new technology is well worth keeping an eye on, though, as it may introduce some interesting changes to the world of consensus.