New Consensus Protocols Revealed by Cornell Professor

Cryptographic Protocol

A team of developers known under the pseudonym “Team Rocket” have created a family of new consensus protocols for blockchains.

Cornell University professor and blockchain researcher Emin Gun Sirer unveiled the new protocols Thursday at Token Summit III in New York. He xplained that the new protocols combine what he termed as the “classical consensus” and “Nakamoto consensus” models in blockchain network decision-making.

The professor said of the new protocols:

“The way this protocol works is incredibly simple yet incredibly powerful.”

Sirer and his research team had been working on the white paper for this protocol family for months, he said, but it was actually developed by a pseudonymous team called “Team Rocket” after the Pokemon characters.

Called Snowflake, Snowball and Avalanche, the protocols work by randomly sampling network participants, and ultimately select a single result. Sirer said that “They rely on randomness and they rely on random interactions and yet they ensure after the interactions everyone has decided the same thing.”

The white paper goes further:

“Inspired by gossip algorithms, this new family gains its safety through a deliberately metastable mechanism. Specifically, the system operates by repeatedly sampling the network at random, and steering the correct nodes towards the same outcome.”

However, not all agree that this is a novel breakthrough.

Ethereum developer Vlad Zamfir tweeted that due to the nature of the protocols, they fail to combine “the best of Nakamoto consensus with the best of classical consensus” as Sirer had asserted.

Zamfir, the lead researcher behind the CASPER CBC noted that the new protocols combine “the worst of both worlds,” due to aspects of the code that could lead to weakened security.

Zamfir further objected to the new protocol, saying “It’s not asynchronously safe and it’s probabilistic,” Adding that “We don’t get to take a probabilistic model of the network for granted [in my opinion].”

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