Consensus mechanism: Proof of Elapsed Time

Gepubliceerd op 24 april 2022 om 12:17

In the previous blog, I discussed Proof of Importance as a consensus mechanism. In this blog I will discuss the Proof of Time consensus mechanism. In essence, all these consensus protocols do the same thing, namely verifying and validating transactions. So what is the Proof of Elapsed Time?

What is Proof of Elapsed Time (PoeT)?

The consensus mechanism is mainly used in the blockchain world by permissioned blockchain. Permissioned blockchain are networks that are only accessible to certain people. So not everyone can participate in the network. With a permissionless blockchain, however, everyone can.

The PoeT looks a bit like the Proof of Work consensus mechanism. The main difference is that with PoeT the nodes/participants are chosen randomly to be able to add a transaction to the blockchain. It is a lottery. So it is not the case that if you have the most computing power, you get to validate the transaction and add it to the blockchain (Proof of Work).

The PoeT is also considered a very transparent blockchain. Anyone can see who won the lottery who placed the transaction on the blockchain. Other network participants can also verify this.

How does Proof of Elapsed Time work?

In principle every node can join the PoeT network. But before you can join, you first have to identify yourself. Because then the network knows who they are dealing with. This is important because when a node does not perform well, the network can ban this node forever from the network. This is why the PoeT is mostly used on a permissioned blockchain.

When a transaction enters the network and has to be verified on the blockchain, the PoeT algorithm generates a random time for each node. The nodes must then go to ''sleep'' or hibernate until the time generated by the algorithm has elapsed.

This means that the node that wakes up first is the one that may verify the transaction on the blockchain. This is because that node has the shortest waiting time, or sleep time. The node that wakes up after the first one is not allowed to verify the transaction on the blockchain. This is a totally random exercise. Everyone is assigned a random sleep time by the algorithm.

This process is repeated for every transaction/block. So as a node, you get a new sleep time for every transaction. This also gives you an opportunity to verify the transaction on the blockchain every time.

After a miner/node is allowed/chosen to verify the transaction on the blockchain, it must still be verified by the other nodes. The nodes then verify that the node was indeed the first to wake up.

Pros of PoeT

  • Every miner has an equal chance. This is because the miner is randomly chosen. Therefore you cannot influence your position as a miner/node. This is different with the Proof of Work. Also, the position of miners is not influenced by the amount of money you have collected in your wallet (with a Proof of Stake). Because of this, the PoeT is also considered the fairest consensus mechanism.
  • A second advantage is that not much energy is required to verify the transaction on the blockchain. In Proof of Work, for example, all miners try to solve the same puzzle. Each node uses a lot of computing power and thus energy. The miner who solves the puzzle the quickest gets to verify the transaction on the blockchain. The other nodes cannot, which can be seen as wasted energy.

The PoeT actually selects the miner/node in advance via an algorithm. Only this miner can verify the transaction on the blockchain. This ensures that only the energy of this node is used. The energy of the other nodes does not have to be used which in turn saves energy.

PoeT vs Proof of Work

Both consensus mechanisms ensure that the miner who is allowed to verify the transaction on the blockchain receives a reward. This is no different from other consensus mechanisms.

The main difference is that with the Proof of Work consensus mechanism the nodes/miner compete with each other. The node that solves the first puzzle is allowed to verify it on the blockchain. In practice, this means that the miner/node with the most computing power may verify this transaction on the blockchain. This means that the miner has to buy a lot of equipment. This costs a lot of money. Not everyone can buy equipment worth a few thousand euros. The Proof of Work is therefore less fair than the PoeT.

With the PoeT, the miners are not chosen because they have bought the most expensive equipment to verify the transaction. They are chosen randomly by an algorithm. You cannot influence this by investing a lot of money in equipment. 

The PoeT is much more sustainable and energy efficient than Proof of Work. It also costs nodes and new participants hardly any money. They do not need to buy equipment to compete with other miners who also want to verify transactions on the blockchain.

PoeT vs Proof of Stake

For a miner in the Proof of Stake consensus mechanism to verify the transaction on the blockchain, nodes/validators will have to stake (collect) money. If a validator does not do well or commits fraud, his/her share of the stake can be confiscated. That node then loses its stake. With the PoeT, that node can be removed from the network entirely because that node had to identify itself. It is therefore easier to deal with a bad performing or fraudulent node than with the Proof of Stake.

As explained above, the miners in the PoeT are chosen randomly. They are not chosen because they have staked the most money. With the PoS, you are much less likely to be able to verify the transaction on the blockchain. Because it is only the rich who can actually do this. After all, they have the financial resources. This is no longer the case with the PoeT. Everyone has the chance to verify the transaction on the blockchain, rich or poor. Beginner in blockchain or experts in blockchain.

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