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This is a guest blog post co-authored by Julian Koh & Cheryl Sew Hoy and originally appeared on The New Stack on May 2, 2019

Bitcoin and other early cryptocurrencies were not Turing-complete by design, and could only execute a small set of operations that were specific to the goals of each blockchain. This led to Ethereum, which as described by Vitalik Buterin, arose from a desire to expand the functionalities of blockchains by building a general-purpose “World Computer.”

Fast-forward to today, we have seen many different designs of blockchains — innovating on different aspects ranging from privacy to scalability and governance. However, there has fundamentally been two classes of approaches on how to facilitate a world with thousands of decentralized applications. …

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Co-authored by Julian Koh & Cheryl Sew Hoy

Blockchain consensus was one of the most heavily discussed sub-fields of blockchains throughout 2017 and 2018. We saw a bunch of companies try to compete with Ethereum by building new smart contract platforms from scratch, where the main differentiator/innovation was the consensus algorithm underlying these blockchains. Trying to understand these algorithms and being able to critically compare them was a full-time job for many crypto investors — they are by no means simple to grasp. There have been many efforts to demystify these magic ‘consensus algorithms’, but many of these still end up too technical for most people. Some concepts like synchrony, safety/liveness proofs, and impossibility results are instrumental in seeing the full picture, but are in my opinion not particularly important for most people to fully understand. This blog post will focus squarely on consensus algorithms in blockchain-land, without much mention of the larger (and super complex!) field of Distributed Systems. …


Cheryl Sew Hoy

EIR @ SVB, Advisor @ Tendermint (Cosmos Network). CoFounded #MovingForward. Formerly: CMO Hack Reactor, Founding CEO MaGIC & ReclipIt (Walmart Labs)

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