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Pi Network vs. Minima

A: “With Minima, you can validate and confirm transactions on your phone.”

B: “Oh, isn’t that just what Pi Network is doing?”

TLDR: No, it’s not what Pi Network is doing. In fact, what Minima is doing is very different.

Nevertheless, people will often compare us to Pi if they first hear about us. In this post, we will introduce Pi and establish the key differences. Note, none of this is an endorsement for Pi or financial advice. Always DYOR (Do Your Own Research).

What is Pi Network?

Pi network is a blockchain project that launched its beta network on the 14th of March 2019. It’s run by a team of Stanford PhDs and graduates, namely:

  • Dr. Nicolas Kokkalis, Head of Technologies
  • Dr. Chengdiao Fan, Head of Product
  • Vincent McPhillip, Head of Community

The team outlines its mission as “Build[ing] a cryptocurrency and smart contracts platform secured and operated by everyday people.”

The access point for most Pi network users is their mobile app, which the team claims lets users “mine” cryptocurrency.

In the loose definition of a “miner” being a user who receives newly minted currency as a reward for contributions, all four roles are considered to be Pi miners. We define “mining” more broadly than its traditional meaning equated to executing proof of work consensus algorithms as in Bitcoin or Ethereum. (WP)

How does it work?

In the Whitepaper, Pi Network outlines its consensus algorithm and the different roles participants in the network can play.

Consensus algorithm

Pi’s network relies on an iteration of Stellars’ Consensus Protocol (SCP). This algorithm was architected by David Mazieres, a professor of Computer Science at Stanford. It implements Byzantine agreements to ensure that all updates made to the ledger are accurate and trustworthy.

Whenever we speak of Byzantine something in cryptography, it goes back to the Byzantine General’s Problem and the idea of establishing Byzantine Fault Tolerance. A byzantine fault-tolerant system can tolerate up to 1/3 of its participants working against it — without losing integrity.

Instead of using their computing power to solve a mathematical puzzle, nodes in SCP come to an agreement by exchanging countless messages and voting on the validity of blocks. In SCP, every node can decide by itself if it thinks a block is valid or not. Of course, if everyone voted on everything, things might get messy — so the algorithm introduces Quorum slices.

When new nodes join the network, they decide which other node they trust and want to form a slice with. Slices intersect and influence each other. You can read more details on SCP here:

Trust Graph

You might wonder, how can I know which nodes to trust? On Stellar, it’s primarily big institutions and companies running quorums, but in a network where everyone can join?

To address that, Pi Network has added a Trust Graph. This is curated by users of the Pi app who share who they trust. This information can then be used when setting up nodes.

Network Participants

Not everyone is equal on Pi. There are four different roles people can play.

  • Pioneer: People who have installed the mobile app
  • Contributor: People who have installed the mobile app and contribute to the trust graph by sharing a list of pioneers they trust.
  • Ambassador: doing all of the above and introducing others to the network
  • Node: users that are pioneers and also running the Pi software on their PC.

After establishing what Pi network is, how does it differ from Minima? Let’s start with an essential point for blockchain: consensus.

Consensus algorithm

Pi Network: Stellar Consensus Protocol means that the system is fault-tolerant up to 1/3 of its participants acting maliciously. While the algorithm has been in use in Stellar since 2015, it has commonly been criticized as a potential vector for centralization. It’s unclear how many nodes participate in the Pi network as actual voting nodes.

Furthermore, the trust graph adds a dimension to blockchain that seems unnecessary in a “trustless” system.

Minima: Tx-PoW takes the best of Proof-of-Work to secure the network and ensure its integrity without making users compete against each other for rewards. Everyone contributes a little, which adds up to an entire blocks’ worth of work, collaborating to secure the network.

The App

What we have in common is a mobile app. Yet, what the app provides differs vastly.

Pi Network: The app asks users to verify daily that they are not a robot. In return, they will then earn a Pi token. To send any transactions, users have to connect to a full node. The app is not a node. It’s merely a light client.

Minima: The Minima app puts a full validating and constructing node into the hands of the people. That means no reliance on external nodes to verify your transactions. It means complete control over what happens with your assets, and the energy it requires to contribute to the network is negligible.

Tokenomics

Pi Network: Instead of a maximum supply, Pi network has a fixed supply of coins for each person that joins the network until 100 million participants have joined. That amount is pre-minted but not specified. Supply will be released over a member’s lifetime, depending on their level of engagement.

Additionally, the network distributes “mining” rewards to Pi users and miners once daily. The whitepaper does not provide any fixed numbers and remains ambiguous regarding tokenomics beyond 100 million participants.

Minima: The native token of Minima is capped at 1 billion. There will never be any more Minima tokens than that. When blocks are full, a burn mechanism regulates on-chain traffic and serves as an indirect fee to process your transactions. It also reduces the overall supply of Minima, making everyone’s remaining Minima more scarce and therefore more valuable.

Minima Token distribution

Decentralization

Because that’s ultimately what gives blockchain its censorship-resistant properties and empowers people to be freer.

Pi Network: It’s unclear how many nodes are actually running the Pi Network software. The testnet explorer shows that transactions are happening, but so far the network continues in test net. It’s reasonable to assume that a majority of participants in Pi use the mobile app, however that doesn’t contribute to decentralization as it’s a light client that requires a connection to a full node to make transactions. The team plans to implement governance mechanisms once the network has 5 million members. Until then, the main driver behind changes is the Pi Core team.

Minima: With Minima, when you run the app on your phone, you immediately contribute to the validation AND construction of the chain, just as every other user in the network does. We are still in testnet but have already more than 50,000 nodes running the protocol — more than a majority of the competing Layer-1 blockchains. Once we reach main net, Minima will be complete and not require any governance votes on changes to the underlying protocol. Holding tokens does not give anyone more control over the network.

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide. Keep in mind that if we had to distill it down to one main difference then it’s this:

With Minima you are in control of a full validating and constructing node. That means you don’t have to trust anyone else to run the network or transfer funds.

With Pi’s app, all you do is verify you are not a robot, to receive a Pi coin that still has no fixed launch date.

If you have further questions about Minima, check out our Wiki that covers most of the commonly asked things. And if you can’t find an answer, join us on Discord and ask. We’re always happy to help.

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