- The VeChain Foundation and the University of Oxford have announced an expansion of their partnership, under which both will jointly provide independent scientific advice.
- Both partners have developed an evaluation framework for blockchain consensus protocols to promote adoption by the industry.
The VeChain Foundation is expanding its cooperation with the University of Oxford. As announced yesterday in a blog post, the Mathematical Institute of the University of Oxford and the VeChain Foundation will offer independent scientific advice. In addition, both partners have published a technical paper entitled “AlphaBlock: An Evaluation Framework for Blockchain Consensus Protocols”.
As the name suggests, the paper aims to provide an evaluation framework for blockchain consensus protocols to enable an assessment of the performance of the consensus model on an industrial level. Currently, theoretical models exist to analyze the security of a given design, but there is no established way to objectively evaluate the actual performance of a given consensus design.
This, according to the VeChain Foundation, creates a significant problem in the adoption efforts for the blockchain industry. The research work therefore aims to provide a framework for evaluating the performance of block chain consensus designs, as the official announcement states:
The proposed framework will be a powerful tool for both the blockchain industry and academic world to quantify the performance of a particular consensus algorithm under different algorithmic settings and network conditions. With VeChain and Mathematical Institute of the University of Oxford’s AlphaBlock, blockchain practitioners would be able to try and test their consensus designs without actually implementing it.
AlphaBlock is based on the topological graph model to map the blockchain nodes and the communication between them. On this basis, the communication costs and delays of each new block are quantified and then the data throughput is evaluated:
[…] by analyzing how efficient the bandwidth is used and the latency according to the message delay, the block interval, and the number of rounds before the confirmation of a block. These two quantities are used as the main factors to evaluate the performance of a consensus design.
The paper compares the overall performance of the Byzantine Fault Tolerant (BFT) Consensus and the Nakamoto Consensus (NC) using the AlphaBlock framework.
VeChain’s quest for an industry-ready consensus model
As the VeChain Foundation further explains in the announcement, it has long been committed to improving the underlying consensus of the VeChainThor blockchain for long-term development and ecosystem robustness. The joint research efforts with Oxford University are “just one example of our leadership in the industry”.
In February 2020, Dr. Peter Zhou, VeChain’s lead scientist, and Dr. Zhijie Ren, VeChain’s Senior Researcher on Blockchain, introduced the PoA 2.0 SURFACE consensus algorithm for blockchain networks to make VeChainThor blockchain even more attractive for enterprise use. The consensus model presented half a year ago is supposed to be “more secure, use case-specific, more adaptive, faster and less susceptible to hard forks”.
The PoA 2.0 combines the advantages of the Nakamoto Consensus and the Byzantine Fault Tolerance (BFT) Consensus. The Nakamoto Consensus is intended to enable the VeChainThor blockchain to achieve “near-optimal throughput and latency performance”, while the BFT consensus “guarantees uncompromising ledger consistency (security) even when the network is strictly asynchronous”.
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