A new class of consensus mechanism called Avalanche is being actively developed at Cornell University. This new consensus mechanism is completely different from most systems we’ve reviewed until now.
Avalanche works by randomly polling network nodes. By gathering replies from several randomly chosen peers, the node then develops its own conviction about what the consensus is.
The core idea in Avalanche is metastability. This is the name given to a system which isn’t fully stable at all times.
It may seem ironic that an Avalanche network reaches consensus (thus stability) by never being 100% stable!
The idea of metastability is that there’s a very delicate balance between yes and no questions. The definitive answer can be swayed either way by adding more information to the decision process. Finally, when enough information is added, the balance tips towards one side, which is then considered the consensus.
While Avalanche may seem complicated at first, it’s actually a very simple consensus mechanism. Consensus can be reached with just 3 or 4 iterations. It makes “mining” (minting) very inexpensive and can be run in cheap hardware.
Avalanche network integrity and security are guaranteed by a form of staking – risking funds rather than investing in expensive mining hardware.
For more details about Avalanche, please read our full article about the Avalanche consensus mechanism.
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