What are the differences between the Proof of Stake and Proof of Authority consensus mechanisms?
A consensus is a checking and validation procedure in a blockchain that can have a variety of forms and types. A consensus that is widely used among developers in place of a Proof-of-Work protocol, which consumes a large quantity of power and performs at a very slow rate, is the Proof-of-Stake protocol as well as the Proof-of-Authority protocol. We will take a look at the mechanics and differences between these two protocols.
What is Proof of Stake?
The Proof-of-Stake protocol was founded by Sunny King and Scott Nadal in the year 2012, with the purpose of solving the power consumption issue that Bitcoin proposed with its Proof-of-Work protocol.
The Proof-of-Stake protocol is a transaction validation process where validators are the ones responsible for checking the legitimacy of each transaction. In order to become a validator, they must stake their assets in the system as collateral. If an individual tries to manipulate and alter any transaction, their staked assets would be confiscated by the system.
The system would randomly pick a validator according to the amount of staked assets. The more assets an individual stakes, the higher the chance of them being picked. However, the Proof-of-Stake protocol has certain mechanisms that stabilize the number of times a certain validator is being picked.
Proof-of-Stake was designed to address the power consumption issue that the Proof-of-Work protocol proposed. As mentioned earlier, Proof-of-Stake uses validators in validating transactions, therefore it is different from the Proof-of-Work protocol which uses the mining process to validate transactions and may consume a large amount of power.
Additionally, the Proof-of-Stake protocol may also protect the system from the 51% Attack, because an attacker would have to stake 51% of the entire system’s value in order to cause any damage. Being able to own more than 51% of the entire system’s value is almost impossible, and if the attacker really did succeed in attacking the system, the value of the asset they staked would be significantly affected.
Proof of Authority
The Proof-of-Authority protocol was founded in the year 2017 by Gavin Wood, a co-founder of Ethereum and the founder of Polkadot. It was created with the intention of preventing spamming attacks on the Ropsten Testnet, which is a testing blockchain network belonging to Ethereum.
The Proof-of-Authority protocol is a transaction validation process that uses validators as well. However, validators are required to use their authority and reliability as collateral to perform honest validation. Validators in the Proof-of-Authority system would have to reveal their identity to the public, where everyone would be able to check the validators’ reliability. The validators would only be chosen as long as the community agrees that those validators are trustworthy.
The difference between Proof of Stake and Proof of Authority
The Proof-of-Stake protocol and Proof-of-Authority protocol have a great deal of similarities, where the difference between them is the method of choosing a validator and the means of providing collateral for transparency. In the Proof of Stake protocol, the validators would be required to stake their assets within the network, then the system would randomly choose according to the amount of assets that a candidate had staked. In the Proof of Authority protocol, it wouldn’t be necessary for a validator to provide digital assets as collateral, however, their authority and trustworthiness would be at stake.
The Proof-of-Stake protocol is able to significantly help reduce the amount of power a blockchain network consumes, by using the method of staking digital assets as collateral to validate transactions. It is also able to protect a network against 51% attacks, for the reason that the attackers might be more at risk of losing the value of their staked assets due to their own actions.
The Proof-of-Authority protocol might seem like a centralized system generally, but there is a huge benefit of speed in validating transactions and transparency. The Proof-of-Authority protocol chooses validators by themselves, therefore the number of nodes that verify transactions would be few, which speeds up the validation process where the community behind the network would also be able to know who the validator is.