How Hedera Hashgraph Is Revolutionizing Distributed Ledgers
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Dr. Leemon Baird is the co-founder and chief scientist of Hedera Hashgraph, a project that's looking "to build a trusted, secure, and empowered digital future for all." But what does that all mean?
Listen in my full interview with Dr. Baird below:
What Is Hedera Hashgraph?
Hedera Hashgraph is a public ledger of transactions that transparently stores data and is fully public, meaning anyone can anonymously use it without permission and freely submit transactions. However, if you want to run a node on the mainnet, you need to meet certain requirements and permissions, but that will become a thing of the past soon.
Hedera Hashgraph began life back in 2012 when Dr. Baird set out to create a way of achieving distributed consensus (proof-of-stake) at scale. A few years later, Dr. Baird had developed Hashgraph, a patented algorithm that boasts many of the benefits of a blockchain (decentralization, distribution, and tight security through the use of hashing), but with significantly faster transaction speeds and lower bandwidth consumption.
How Does it Work?
Hedera hashgraph uses a 'Gossip protocol' (gossip about gossip) to propagate events around the network. Each message or transaction sent out includes the reporting node’s timestamp, a signature of the creating node, and hashes linking to two parents. This transaction then spreads from node to node, creating a structure that outlines the history of how the transaction spread, plus other metadata.
The hashgraph algorithm (read part 1 of the white paper linked) enables nodes to come to a consensus quickly, meaning transactions are finalized in a matter of seconds.
Everything Is Based on Trust
Hedera hashgraph uses Asynchronous Byzantine Fault Tolerance (ABFT), an extension to Byzantine Fault Tolerance (BFT) that aims to solve some of the issues with BFT.
The "asynchronous" part overcomes a challenge of fault tolerance, which is that of timing. Many forms of Byzantine Fault Tolerance assume there is a maximum threshold of message latency when coming to a consensus. An ABFT network eliminates this assumption and allows for some messages to be lost or indefinitely delayed.
This all hopefully means that if unscrupulous actors used botnets, DDoS attacks, and malicious firewalls to interfere with messages, delaying them or making sure they never reach their intended recipient, Hedera Hashgraph is still able to achieve consensus.
Some alternate ledgers aren't fault-tolerant, meaning they never have finality, and that means you're never sure if a transaction has gone through and finished.
The Hedera Governing Council
Hedera is a limited corporation with a unique governance model. It's effectively owned by a governing council comprising some of the largest global corporations in the world, including Google, IBM, Boeing, Deutsche Telekom, and more.
There will eventually be 39 council members, each of which can govern for three years initially, with the opportunity to govern again for another three if they are elected a second time. Then, after six years, a new council member needs to be elected.
It's a setup that prevents entrenchment and allows Hedera to benefit from a wide range of input from various industries, keeping it truly diverse.
The Governing Council setup also boosts trust in the project even further because these are global corporations who aren't going to risk their own reputations by harming the network.
Applications and Use Cases of Hashgraph
Organizations can build on top of Hashgraph and use it as a powerful consensus service, taking advantage of its scalability, event ordering, and publicly verifiable timestamps. Then, there is the cryptocurrency payments aspect, which enables fast, low fee transactions to take place using HBAR, Hedera's cryptocurrency.
Developers can use Hedera to handle smart contracts between parties and facilitate verifiable file creation, management, and collaboration. This makes it suitable for auditing purposes, as there is a controlled mutability and a full, unchangeable history available always.
How Can People Start Building on Hashgraph?
There are SDKs available that allow developers to create and submit transactions to the network( e.g. moving cryptocurrency/creating a cryptocurrency account, calling a smart contract, or deploying a smart contract). You can also create a file, update a file, and delete a file.
And with Java:
There are over six wallets for HBAR, including iOS and Android, a Chrome extension that enables people to make micropayments from their Hedera account, and one that connects your browser to Hedera Hashgraph.
What's Next for Hedera?
Dr. Baird says the focus is to build the ecosystem on top of Hashgraph, as well as continue to grow and improve the underlying system to expand its advantages, including stake proofs and fully functional mirror nodes.
The end goal is to create the next era of fast, fair, and secure applications that anyone can use exactly how they want.
If Hedera Hashgraph sounds interesting, you can find out more about the project here:
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