Why WABNetwork is Proof-of-Stake Optimized

BAW Network
May 8, 2019 · 5 min read

Since cryptocurrencies are still in their infancy, advances among them tend to come quickly. One proof of this is how in just two years we’ve seen new blockchains appear calling themselves third, fourth, and fifth generation even before the previous ones are properly functioning.

On a smaller level, every other cryptocurrency attempts to bring something new to the table or help fix a problem our current blockchain models have. This, while overall a good thing since it helps the community tackle many issues at once, can lead to an apparent saturation of new blockchains, each promising something new and different and positioning itself as the panacea.

While many of these blockchains indeed boast about more than they actually have, a small handful of them actually come up with interesting and novel ways to tackle issues. WABNetwork is among the latter, as a fifth-generation blockchain and offering cross-blockchain transactions along with a polished proof-of-stake consensus method.

Understanding proof of stake

The Proof-of-stake method appeared as an alternative to the proof-of-work method used by older blockchains to assign transaction verification to nodes. The proof-of-work model assigns each node hoping to authenticate transactions and earn the rewards for doing so a complex mathematical problem that can only be solved by brute force. The first node to solve the problem is assigned the transaction block and, with it, the reward in cryptocurrencies.

That was until recently the reigning model in crypto, and when you hear about mining cryptocurrencies, that’s what it means. The problem with this model was clear: A huge lot of computing power and electricity are lost, since the mathematical problem has no relation to any real-world problems and is only there to serve as a competition among nodes. Moreover, not only does the winning node spend power and energy solving it, but every node who doesn’t win does too.

Proof-of-stake aimed to solve this by instead having competing nodes place a “stake,” in the form of cryptocurrency, to be assigned a block. You can see the stake as a bet or insurance money: If the node fails to authenticate the block correctly, the stake money is lost, and the node blacklisted. If the node successfully authenticates it, it is awarded the transaction fees stemming from that block.

While much more energy-efficient than the proof-of-work algorithm, proof-of-stake, as initially designed, has its problems. Specifically, proof-of-stake assigns blocks based on how high the stake of a node is. While most proof-of-stake blockchains do try to assign blocks to everyone regardless of stake, those with higher stakes get assigned more work, thus compromising the validation process by relying more on certain nodes that might become compromised themselves.

That’s the problem with proof-of-stake, one of security. Proof-of-work problems can only be solved by brute force, so statistically speaking everyone mining for it has roughly the same chance, with processing power being the driving force behind having a higher or smaller chance. Proof-of-stake, however, will give lots of transactions to those staking lots, and arguably if somebody staked enough and distributed it among several nodes, they could compromise the integrity of the whole blockchain by staging a takeover.

The WAB Optimization

While WAB uses the proof-of-stake algorithm as its main validation method, several tweaks have been made to help ensure the integrity of the ledger and protect it against takeovers. The main method used to this aim is called sharding, or multigraph sharding.

Instead of amassing many transactions on a single block and then assigning that block to a single node based on stake, WAB divides the whole network into shards, with each node divided into one of those shards. Then, when the time to assign blocks arrives, the blocks are assigned to shards instead of single nodes, usually several blocks per shard.

This brings several advantages to the table. The main one concerning security is added difficulty for a takeover. While it is still possible to stake high amounts of crypto to ensure a large amount of transactions to authenticate, this is made much more difficult by this method — in fact, it’s statistically impossible.

First, because shards are established at random, constantly fluctuate, and it’s impossible to know which shard you’re on. Second, because blocks are processed in parallel by several shards, and the work in those blocks assigned at random to the nodes in them. This makes it effectively impossible for anyone to successfully compromise the integrity of the ledger without first staging a massive takeover — that is, without owning more than half of the nodes in the blockchain. And even then, data inconsistencies would likely be discovered.

Are there any other uses to this?

Yes, there are. In fact, the added security is in part a side-effect to a much larger feature of the sharding system.

The sharding system, with its distributed approach to transaction authentication, makes the blockchain much, much, much faster. The ability to process many transactions at a time, distributing the available work among active nodes without having to raffle blocks, means transactions are processed much faster.

And “much faster” here means “WAB can, in theory, process up to a million transactions per second.” If you’re wondering how big that is, let’s say VISA has a cap of about two hundred and fifty thousand transactions per second. And they have served a worldwide market for decades, having presence in pretty much every country in the world.

Conclusion

It is. It’s all in the WAB whitepaper, where you can also find more detailed information on how this all goes. However, if you’re asking whether the currently implemented WAB can handle a million transactions per second, well… those claims are difficult to test until said capacity is needed. And once again, since the likes of VISA and MasterCard have never needed that many, it’s not likely WAB will need them anytime soon either.

What’s sure for now is that WAB is, in speed, much faster than any other established blockchains. And in security, it’s a massive increase from existing proof-of-stake blockchains. WAB is still a young blockchain, but it’s already one of the players offering the most interesting upgrades. While there are still details to iron out about blockchains and their mass adoption, WAB is certainly among the players offering the closest to a mainstream-ready blockchain in the current market.

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