Beyond Proof of Work: the XRPL Consensus Solution

This article was first published on Insights – Ripple

With the digital currency revolution continuing to gather pace, the debate between advocates of proof-of-work and newer agreement algorithms rages on. Beyond the rhetoric, the evolution of the consensus approach continues to make steady progress that, due to design limitations, transactionally-focused proof-of-work networks find it difficult to match.

As the only enterprise blockchain company today with payment products in commercial use, Ripple has found that the digital asset XRP enables its users to rapidly and inexpensively source liquidity—while also offering greater scalability than any other digital asset.

The XRP Ledger (XRPL) has a fundamentally different design from proof-of-work based blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum. The consensus validation system XRPL uses follows an anti-robustness principle that elevates reliability. This provides the system with a built-in safety mechanism: when safe forward progress is not clearly possible, XRPL does not make forward progress. 

Despite the existence of this consensus validation enabled safety brake, XRPL has demonstrated a reliability rate of more than 99.999% since it began operation more than 58 million ledgers ago. XRPL’s history of closing a ledger roughly every five seconds attests to this consistency.

A Brief Review: How Public Blockchains Work

The “secret sauce” of public blockchains like Bitcoin is that every participant can confirm that every transaction complies with all system rules. As a result, system state is public: transactions are public, and everyone knows which transactions are valid and which aren’t. With such a system, validators aren’t needed to tell anyone else which transactions are valid or what transactions do. The validity of each transaction is already available to every participant.

Using Consensus To Defeat Double Spending and Unintentional Forking

“Consensus”, as it applies to the validation method utilized by XRPL, refers to the need to solve the double spend problem. This problem occurs when ...

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Insights – Ripple

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