Beyond Blockchain: Showcasing the Next Level of DLT With Hashgraph
Look beyond blockchain.
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It’s time we addressed the identity crisis confronting Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). The longstanding association between Bitcoin, its use cases, blockchain and its underlying technology has fueled the widespread belief that they were one and the same, defining each other. That perception was reinforced in recent years, with the reputation of blockchain tied to the fortunes of the volatile crypto market, a link that saw hype around the technology heat up with the bull market and subsequently cool during the bear market. The 2018 ‘crypto crash’ has dampened expectations around blockchain and, in turn, devalued the wider category of Distributed Ledger Technology in the eyes of many.
But the underlying principles of decentralization, disintermediation, transparency, and efficiency are still very much needed in a variety of sectors, from finance and logistics to real-estate and healthcare. These principles are deeply rooted in Distributed Ledger Technology, and advocates for blockchain and other distributed ledgers are working to re-align thinking in this vein, aiming to disconnect the status of the technology from fluctuations in the global crypto market.
The Gold Standard in Security and Consensus
Blockchain’s role in the DLT story can’t be understated. It has been the undisputed flag bearer for some time, introducing the world to new strands of innovation and payment processes. However, the DLT innovation race is long, with security and speed as the key attributes needed to endure. These attributes are deeply rooted in the hashgraph algorithm developed by Dr. Leemon Baird. As a technology, hashgraph represents a significant advance in the area of Distributed Ledger Technology, boasting the highest level of performance and security.
The structure of the blockchain is plagued by issues around scalability and speed. Bitcoin can only process around 7 transactions per second — with a single transaction taking up to 10 minutes to finalize. The hashgraph algorithm enables much quicker transaction speeds, enabling thousands of transactions a second.
What is the key to such a dramatic disparity? By adapting a ‘Gossip-about-gossip’ protocol, based on the gossip protocol widely used across computer science, the hashgraph algorithm can enable hundreds of thousands of transactions a second. The ‘Gossip-about-gossip’ protocol is the fastest and most resilient way to get a message out, spreading information exponentially fast throughout the network of nodes, a process that results in every node being made aware of the same information. Say a message is sent to from node A to node B. With this protocol, two additional hashes are attached. These two hashes comprise details of the last messages that node A created and received. This process continues until swift consensus is achieved. To reach consensus, each computer needs to agree on the transactions; therefore, each computer needs to know about every transaction.
With Bitcoin, there is never a moment when you know you have consensus with 100 percent confidence. You just become more and more confident over time. The hashgraph is literally a graph, bound together by cryptographic hashes, of how a node has communicated with other nodes throughout time. The data structure is a history of the communication between the nodes.
The gold standard for security within distributed systems revolves around the notion of asynchronous byzantine fault tolerance (ABFT). This kind of security has never been achieved at scale, until now, with hashgraph. By achieving ABFT, there is a moment when you know with 100 percent certainty that you have consensus, even in the face of malicious nodes, firewalls, and DDOS attacks.
Bitcoin and blockchain will always be synonymous — as will blockchain and DLT. However, as public understanding around decentralized innovation evolves, the term hashgraph will become more prevalent in the vernacular of the DLT community and wider society. Blockchain, once considered the only vehicle to deliver on the true promise of DLT, is dealing with mileage and cost-running issues. When it comes to technological innovation, there are always faster, fairer, and more secure alternatives on the horizon. That horizon is here. And it will enable us to showcase the true power of DLT.
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