The Blockchain Trilemma and How Algorand solves it

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August 28, 2020 by
The Blockchain Trilemma and How Algorand solves it

It is no news to any blockchain-savvy person, that the blockchain industry has experienced a major evolution in recent years. Within the space of a decade, we all have witnessed how blockchain has evolved from being just a mere digital ledger used to record crypto transactions, to become one of the most sought-after technology of the modern generation.

In the past few years, there has been a major leap in the level of adoption of this technology, as a large number of businesses and organizations from various industries, are beginning to realize the enormous amount of opportunities that blockchain provides, and are looking to leverage on them, in an attempt to get ahead of every of their competitors.

Although blockchain provides feasible solutions to most of the problems faced in many industries today, it doesn’t dispute that fact that it isn’t devoid of its own limitations. The Blockchain Trilemma (as many choose to call it), appears to be the major problem associated with blockchain technology. For over a decade, a large number of projects in the blockchain space have proposed various solutions to this problem but none appears to have fully solved the problem. This being said, with the pace at which blockchain is being adopted across the globe, there is a growing need for the blockchain trilemma to be addressed, if this technology intends to reach the $25 billion valuation projected by experts, by 2025.

What is the Blockchain Trilemma?

The blockchain trilemma is a major situation in the industry, which stems from the inability of any of the existing consensus algorithm to fully provide security, decentralization and scalability simultaneously on a blockchain network. Basically, while a large number of the existing blockchain projects provides perfect solutions to one or two of the aforementioned problems, they fail to address the other(s).

I would love to give a relatable example, which would give a clearer insight on how the blockchain trilemma is a big problem.

As we all know, Bitcoin; the first ever cryptocurrency, operates on the Proof of Work PoW consensus and through this consensus mechanism, users are able to conduct transaction in a fully decentralized and secure environment. However, while the bitcoin network perfectly satisfies these two areas, it fails woefully in the aspect of scalability. Basically, running a large transaction with bitcoin could be really frustrating, as one might need to wait for hours for it to complete.

Generally, PoW based cryptocurrencies have poor network throughput, and this widely suggests that they weren’t built to accommodate a really large amount of users. On average, Bitcoin handles about 4-7 transactions per second, Ethereum about 12-15 transactions per second, and Litecoin handles about 15-16 transactions per second.

Till date, none of the existing blockchain projects, have been able to provide a solution to this trilemma and this seem to be a major setback in the industry. Evidently, in order for blockchain to thrive and get adopted into major industries of our world, there is a great need for a network which would provide complete security, decentralization and scalability without any form of compromise.

Algorand: A trusted solution to the Blockchain Trilemma

Algorand is an open source public blockchain that runs with an ultra-modern form of consensus mechanism called the Pure Proof-of-Stake consensus protocol which supports easy scaling, open participation, and transaction finality for billions of users globally. By leveraging this unique protocol, Algorand provides a perfectly equipped ecosystem, built to provide full solution to the blockchain trilemma, thereby creating an equitable, borderless, and trustless blockchain economy.

Now, let’s examine how Algorand distinctively solves the blockchain trilemma:

Decentralization

Algorand leverages a pure proof-of-stake consensus protocol built on Byzantine Agreement to achieve a consensus without a central authority and zero tolerance for malicious users on the network. On Algorand, the network is controlled by every user, who also acts as block producers at the same time.

On the Algorand network, users are randomly and secretly selected to both propose blocks and vote on block proposals. Interestingly, the network has been designed in such a way that every users could have the chance to be selected to propose and to vote. However, the likelihood that a user will be chosen, is hugely dependent on the amount of stakes (number of Algos) they have in the system.

Ultimately, by creating a system whereby the participation of every user is integral to the growth of the network, Algorand is able to provide a complete solution to the problem of decentralization on a blockchain network.

Scalability

Algorand provides full and immediate transaction finality with no forking, which enables the network deliver real-time transactional integrity and sustain a high transaction rate, without incurring significant cost to participating users.  On the Algorand network, blocks are finalized in seconds and transactions are completed within the space of a minute. Also, one fascinating thing about the Algorand network is that it achieves transaction throughputs of up to 125X better than that of Bitcoin, and incurs almost no penalty for scaling to more users.

Unlike previous Byzantine Agreement protocols, which requires every user to receive a message from all other users on the network to reach a consensus, the Algorand protocol randomly selects a small set of block proposers and verifiers. This way, users only need to receive a fixed number of messages in order to reach consensus on the next block.

Security

Security is one vital feature which every public blockchain is expected to provide if they intend to thrive in this vast and sternly competitive market. Interestingly, Algorand fully satisfies this aspect by providing top-notch security against attacks at both the consensus protocol level and the network level.

At the consensus protocol level, Algorand provides complete security on the network by ensuring that the selection of users to participate in the certification of blocks, is done randomly and secretly, without any communication among the users, and unlike other existing protocols, neither  delegated users nor a fixed committee is responsible for propagating blocks on the network.

At the network level, Algorand is able to ensure complete security by ensuring that during a network partition, the adversary is unable to convince two honest users to accept two different blocks for the same round. Also, the Algorand network has been uniquely engineered in such a way that, it is able to recover shortly after a network partition is resolved and still generate new blocks at approximately the same speed as before the partition.

Final Thoughts

The world is currently experiencing a paradigm shift, and blockchain appears to be at the center of this major evolution. However, despite the great promise that blockchain has shown in recent years, the blockchain trilemma appears to have significantly affected the adoption of this requisite tool across major industries. There obviously is no doubt to the fact that Algorand’s recent emergence, reads great fortune for the blockchain industry.

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