What is Delegated Byzantine Fault Tolerance?

There are quite a few different ways to power blockchain solutions. Two of the more common types are proof-of-work and proof-of-stake. However, every now and then, we see a new type of algorithm that leaves people confused for quite some time. Delegated Byzantine Fault Tolerance is one of those algorithms very few people can wrap their head around. Now is a good time to take a closer look at what this concept entails exactly.

Delegated Byzantine Fault Tolerance is Quite Intriguing

Even though some cryptocurrency enthusiasts feel proof-of-work is the “fairest” distribution system for new currencies, there are quite a few drawbacks associated with this algorithm as well. First of all, it requires a lot of electricity, which is often considered to be wasteful. This is especially true when it comes to Bitcoin mining, as reports indicate the average Bitcoin transaction consumes as much electricity as powering multiple US households. Plus, one needs specialized hardware for proof-of-work distribution, which makes it less fair than one might think.

Proof-of-stake, on the other hand, is an interesting concept. It requires far less electricity, nor does one need powerful computer hardware to participate. However, the wallet staking coins needs to be connected to the internet at all times, which could make it a target for hackers. Moreover, those who own more chosen than others earn more stake rewards. It is not the fairest system either, yet it provides incentives for people not to spend their coins right away.

Although both of these algorithms are widely recognized as being “useful” in the world of cryptocurrency, some developers are looking for even better solutions. It is not hard to come up with a concept which has been tried yet in the world of cryptocurrency. Delegated Byzantine Fault Tolerance is one of those algorithms very few projects actively use, but it certainly has its merits. That is, assuming one implements it correctly.

People familiar with consensus protocols will be aware of the Byzantine Generals problem in Game Theory in Computer Science. Achieving consensus in a decentralized system is far from easy, especially if the users do not trust one another. By using delegated Byzantine Fault Tolerance, the relationship between different blockchain nodes is rearranged. More specifically, the entire network becomes almost invulnerable to the Byzantine Generals problem, while still being able to achieve consensus if malicious node would attempt to cause harm.

To do so, one needs to acknowledge the different entities who make up the ecosystem. On the one hand, there are professional node operators, who run a node as a way to gain extra income. On the other hand, we have the users who want to explore all features a particular cryptocurrency ecosystem has to offer. Acknowledging both groups of ecosystem members is of the utmost importance, especially when it comes to securing an ecosystem.

The consensus part of the Delegated Byzantine Fault Tolerance protocol occurs through a “gamified” form of block verification among professional node operators. All of these professional nodes are appointed by ordinary notes through a delegated voting process. The professional node broadcasts its version of the blockchain to the network. If 66% of the other nodes agree with the information, consensus is achieved. Should this threshold not be met, a different professional node is appointed to broadcast its blockchain version until consensus can be established.

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