In this article, we provide an overview of Ethereum's Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus mechanism and the wide range of advantages it offers, particularly when compared to the alternative Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism. Read on to discover 10 things you should know about Ethereum’s Proof-of-Work consensus mechanism.
Origins in Cryptography
The Proof-of-Work mechanism is founded on real-world principles taken from economics, game theory and a field of math called cryptography. Simply defined, Proof-of-Work is a competition between miners to solve cryptographic algorithms or equations and validate transactions to earn blockchain rewards. Proof-of-Work has long been used in cryptocurrency to regulate the state of the blockchain and the creation of blocks.
Free from Bias
The Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism, an alternative to PoW that is rising in popularity, “randomly” selects validators to ensure a translation is reliable and compensates them with crypto. This mechanism has been looked upon favorably in recent times as it is not dependent on hardware and has a significantly reduced energy consumption compared to PoW.
However, some fear that it threatens the network's core principles of security, democracy and decentralization. By awarding control of the network to token owners and rewarding them with currency for validation, security guarantees could be weakened, giving large holders unfair advantages as the more tokens held, the higher your chances of being selected to mine the next block. This bias is in stark contrast with the founding principles of cryptocurrency.
First published in 1993 by Cynthia Dwork and Moni Naor before later being used by Satoshi Nakamoto in the 2008 Bitcoin whitepaper, the Proof-of-Work concept has already proven itself as having stood the test of time to the present day. The question is, why deviate from something that works rather than remain true to the core values of blockchain?
The Proof-of-Stake mechanism has seen recent use by only a comparably small number of alternative cryptocurrencies. Mining was at the forefront of blockchain innovation and Proof-of-Work allows us to remain true to this and the founding principles of blockchain technology.
Proof-of-Work was designed in support of a truly democratic ecosystem where anyone can participate with no entry barriers. This decentralized and objective form of validation avoids monopolizing power or giving larger holders unfair advantages. Decentralized governance has long been one of the core principles of blockchain, the Proof-of-Work mechanism allows us to value and uphold these properties.
With PoW, miners are incentivized to distribute their operations across the globe in pursuit of lower energy costs. This organic process of decentralization helps take cryptocurrencies around the world and benefits the network as a whole.
Being accessible from anywhere means having no central point of control and as a result no central point of failure. This means the network cannot be corrupted by any external forces such as governments or central banks or affected by any kind of conflict or natural disaster. Having no central location also means the network is much less susceptible to security attacks. By awarding larger token holders sway over the network, could result in them being subject to attacks or forms of corruption.
Proof-of-Work is what allows Bitcoin to be processed in Peer-to-Peer transactions without a third-party regulator. Though some alternative mechanisms have been proposed, none retain the unique Peer-to-Peer element of Proof-of-Work.
The Proof-of-Work mechanism allows us to remain true to the primary values and core principles of blockchain with the tried and tested security protocol of blockchain secured by miners. We need to adopt a gradual and sustainable approach to managing the flaws of PoW, rather than increasing the degree of uncertainty by introducing an entirely new mechanism.
As Bitcoin rises in price and more miners start mining, the difficulty adjustment underlying PoW is used to increase the complexity and the security of Bitcoin. This discourages attempts to attack the network.
The reality is that both Proof-of-Work and Proof-of-Stake could be improved, PoW with its high energy consumption and slower processing speeds and Proof-of-Stake with its increase in bias and centralization.
At Pulsar, we believe a truly sustainable Proof-of-Work ecosystem is the answer for a secure and scalable network. Find out more about our sustainable Proof-of-Work Ethereum ecosystem.
Visit our website to learn how Pulsar preserves Proof-of-Work values and allows miners to stay sustainably involved.
Disclaimer: Readers should keep in mind that the information contained in this article does not constitute investment advice. The ideas and strategies presented should not be used to make any investment before assessing your financial situation and consulting a financial professional.