An Introduction to the Junaeth Network
The Stealth cryptocurrency is hosted by a blockchain running on a consensus protocol called Junaeth. To understand Junaeth, it is important to first understand the meaning and significance of a consensus protocol. I’ll use the classic example of the Byzantine Generals.
The Byzantine Generals Problem
Let’s imagine that a Byzantine Emperor (from what is now the country of Turkey) stands on a hilltop and issues a command to his Generals that they will all attack the enemy’s citadel in seven days at 2:30 PM. He sends out messages with this information, and also with the instructions to immediately acknowledge receipt of the message, which for the most distant Generals will arrive back in no more than two hours.
The Emperor waits two hours and has not received most of the confirmations. Also, the Emperor realizes that an adversary or traitor might intercept the message and communicate the wrong attack time or target, causing confusion and jeopardizing not only the battle but the war. The question of how the Emperor can be sure his message is recognized as authoritative in the presence of potential forgeries and broken lines of communication is one of consensus.
Bitcoin is the first system to definitively address this consensus problem in a robust way. The technique used by Bitcoin is known as proof-of-work. In proof-of-work, many people produce messages, each with a small amount of information that proves, cryptographically, that their computers did a significant amount of computational work. Others can use that data to verify the work. The key to proof-of-work is that the message that represents the most amount of work is taken as authoritative.
Were we to attempt to extend the proof-of-work concept to the Byzantine Generals problem, we can imagine that the Emperor, by virtue of his vast wealth and influence, has the most powerful computer in all the lands, so his messages will represent the most work, and therefore be taken as authoritative.
Proof-of-work is not the only way to address the problem of consensus. Stealth uses a consensus protocol named Junaeth, a type of proof-of-stake. Proof-of-stake is like proof-of-work in that messages include extra data (proof), but in proof-of-stake, the data proves that the signatory holds some stake in the network. In Junaeth, that stake takes the form of an amount of permanently bonded XST (Stealth’s native currency) tokenized as a blockchain entity called a StealthNode.
Each StealthNode is unique, and each can have a unique owner and operator. Presently, 100 StealthNodes exist, temporarily capped by the protocol. Every 100 blocks, the 100 StealthNodes are shuffled into a queue of 100 slots. Each StealthNode is assigned one and only one slot. Slots are non-overlapping and last five seconds each. In this five second window, the assigned StealthNode has an opportunity to submit a block of transactions and a signature that proves ownership of the StealthNode. The signature is therefore the proof-of-stake.
This process, called “block scheduling” ensures that all transactions occurring during each five second window are immediately added to the blockchain, making them spendable by their recipients in 2.5 seconds, on average. The queue is therefore the heart of the Junaeth protocol and is essential to Junaeth’s efficiency. But Junaeth has many unique technological innovations that make it the most robust scheduled consensus protocol in operation. These unique innovations include a purely economic system to select validators, a purely meritorious system to reward validators, a network clock that does not rely on any two nodes synchronizing their system clocks, and a hybrid ledger to minimize the storage overhead related to rewarding block validators, just to name a few.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll explore these innovations in detail, but for the remainder of this post I’ll introduce several of these topics.
Junaeth’s validator selection is perhaps the most straightforward conceivable. Validators simply purchase their validation rights. The purchase requires destroying a specific amount of XST, dictated by the protocol. This destructive process results in the minting of a StealthNode. Once this transaction is complete, the StealthNode can not be turned back into XST. For this reason, the StealthNode is a permanently bonded validator, the only value of which is its ability to earn future block rewards. Simply put, the value of a StealthNode is irrevocably and permanently tied to the future health of the Stealth blockchain.
Junaeth’s validators are rewarded based purely on merit, which has five key facets. First, to get a block reward, a validator must certify a block of transactions. Second, this certification must occur within a protocol specified five second window. Third, the more blocks a validator certifies, the more the validator can earn in the future, relative to poorer performing validators. Fourth, the more assigned blocks a validator fails to certify, the less the validator can earn in the future relative to better performing validators. Fifth, a validator can be temporarily disabled for a minimum of 12 hours if it fails to certify blocks for too many consecutive assignments.
Asynchronous Network Clock
Junaeth has a network timekeeping mechanism (clock) unique to all cryptocurrencies. This network clock keeps time through specific network events: the certifications of new blocks. Each computer (node) on the network keeps its own internal time. Unlike other cryptocurrencies, Nodes operating under the Junaeth protocol do not poll other nodes for their time. Instead, when they see a new block certification, Junaeth nodes look at the certification time and decide to keep the block if this certification time is valid according to (1) its own internal clock, and (2) the state of the blockchain as understood by the node. In short, each “tick” of Junaeth’s network clock is a new block certification. This “asynchronous” network clock keeps good time because of focal point game theory that incentivizes block validators to keep an internal time with which other nodes will most likely agree. This internal time is manifested in the timestamps of its block certifications.
Junaeth has five second blocks, resulting in an average transaction confirmation of 2.5 seconds (half the block interval). Because blocks come so frequently, the resulting block rewards would create nearly 1.5 GB of blockchain bloat per year were they recorded on the blockchain. While this amount of bloat is not necessarily prohibitive, it would still create an unnecessary burden on the network. For this reason, and others related to efficiency, Junaeth uses an account-based ledger to keep track of block rewards. This ledger is highly efficient but much less versatile than a blockchain ledger. To move rewards from the account based ledger to the blockchain ledger, validator owners and operators can claim rewards once per day. Once moved to the blockchain, block rewards can be spent like any other funds.
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Dr. James Stroud PhD
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