Decentralizing the centralized: Zcoin's mission to democratize crypto mining

23 Oct, 2018
by Will Heasman
News
Decentralizing the centralized: Zcoin's mission to democratize crypto mining

The Zcoin team, best known for creating enhanced privacy protocols, has focused its aim towards the crypto mining industry, with their new Proof of Work (PoW) algorithm, dubbed, Merkle Tree Proof (MTP).

Zcoin has been working on implementing the MTP algorithm for quite some time, it was first devised back in 2016 by Alex Biryukov and Dmitry Khovratovich, two cryptographers from the University of Luxembourg. Since then, Zcoin has strived to pioneer the algorithm.

But what is MTP, and how does it democratize mining?

Merkle Tree Proof is a tree-structured hashing strategy (hence the name…), which essentially validates whether or not data belongs within the Merkle Tree (see above) with the added benefit of proving validity without sorting the entire data set. the algorithm also provides privacy by ensuring validity without revealing the information pertaining to the data set.

Aside from its inherent benefits, MTP was originally created to even the playing field between the weekend miners and large mining companies who corner the market via sheer force of will (and capital).

These companies edge out any competitors by purchasing more ASIC mining rigs, causing further centralization, and along with centralization comes the power to unfairly influence, as well as the ability to launch malicious attacks. 

Reuben Yap COO of Zcoin, spoke of the issues surrounding miner centralization, and the effect it has within the crypto space:  

“Miner centralization is a growing issue amongst blockchain communities, as those with the resources to dedicate research and development towards the development of ASICs are able to gain a significant advantage over the network and reap the rewards. A fair mining system leads to a wider and fairer distribution of coins, which is important if a cryptocurrency is to gain traction. Allowing mining through the use of widely available hardware combats this problem.”.

Effectively MTP makes it much more difficult for these ASIC attacks to occur by increasing the cost it takes to conduct them. This, in turn, reduces the advantage of large mining firms as the cost to run negates the sheer volume of mining rigs.  

Professor Dmitry Kovratovich, one of the authors of the MTP protocol and a Security Researcher at the University of Luxembourg, said:

“The primary idea with MTP is to build a PoW algorithm on a very fast and memory hard hash function, Argon2. Now, any distributed protocol can include MTP in its rounds to ensure that different parties use different machines, ideally desktops. This is the goal of egalitarian computing.”.

Thanks to this egalitarian approach, no one device can gain an advantage over the other; restoring Satoshi’s original intention of one CPU one vote.

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Read more about: ZCoin (XZC)

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