Blockchain vs Tangle vs Hashgraph: the battle for mass adoption
Cryptocurrencies and their underlying technologies have been with us for some time now. A promise to refresh and iron out the way we transact digitally. Tangle looks poised to do the same to the blockchain.
Blockchain or DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology) has come a long way since the birth of its first application, Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency intended for mass use back in 2009. The game-changing potential of this innovation has seemingly sparked a digital revolution, with decentralization, security, and democratization of information storage and transfer systems across numerous sectors/industries.
Be it a Godsend or an over-hyped novelty, the meteoric rise of Bitcoin and other such cryptocurrencies have drawn the eager eyes and ears of governments and corporations looking at the underlying blockchain technology to gain an edge over the competition. Though the spotlight did well at pointing out the potential benefits of blockchain mass adoption, the growing use that followed did well at pointing out the newcomer’s weaknesses.
These major hurdles include scalability, truly decentralized control and cryptography remaining relevant against quantum computing. These hindrances to full-scale mass adoption brought on more than a handful of potential solutions to the problem, such as the Lightening network. However, none have thus been able to do so on the blockchain.
These issues left a void open for new contenders to take a shot at mass adoption of consensus protocols.
In come IOTA’s Tangle and Hedera’s Hashgraph taking Blockchain head on
By now, more than a few of us are familiar with blockchain as most cryptocurrencies are build on it. Now faced by two challengers, both looking like strong contenders, lets see how blockchain might fare.
Tangle: An innovative adaptation of DLT designed by IOTA Foundation to be a more scalable alternative, closely tethered to the adap prediction that the so-called Internet of Things (IoT, a network of interconnected devices)will be well established in the next decade. The networks native token is IOTA.
Hashgraph: Like Tangle, a Hashgraph is another branch in the evolution of the consensus protocols brought to the fore by blockchain. The Hashgraph has caught the attention of many, claiming 250 000+ transactions per second.
How do the three work?
To answer that question, lets take a quick look at all three mass adoption contenders beginning with Tangle.
Tangle: Unlike blockchain, is not a list of transaction inputted and stored on a distributed ledger. Instead, transactions processed on Tangle are more like woven braid, intertwined with each other through the Direct Acyclic Graph algorithm that IOTA employs to process its distributed ledger.
By utilizing DAG, IOTA’s Tangle can reach consensus through users verifying transactions themselves, thus removing the need for miners. In this system, a transaction must confirm two previous transactions before it can be confirmed. So if you send IOTA to another user, your device would then pick out 2 unconfirmed transactions to process and store. This then results in your transaction being queued for processing by other connected devices. Theoretically, this should mean the network’s processing capacity should grow in tandem with its user base.
Hashgraph: On the surface could easily be disregarded as just another blockchain, however there is a major difference that separates the two. This difference is called the gossip protocol, and it works a bit like this.
Each member or node in the network is able to distribute information (known as events) on created transactions/transactions received from other nodes, to other randomly selected neighbour nodes. From here, the neighbours are responsible for aggregating the received event with corresponding information received from other nodes into a new event, which is then distributed to more randomly selected neighbours. The process is repeated until all participating nodes are cognizant of data created and/or received at the beginning.
Transaction history on a hashgraph is made available through each node maintaining a graph that shows the sequence of forwarders/witnesses. Ideally should have the same view of each and every transaction/witness.
Blockchain: Simply put, a blockchain groups transaction data into blocks at set time intervals.
How do the contenders fare when it comes to scalability?
As mentioned before, the growing use blockchain technology pointed out some potentially crippling flaws, scalability has been one of blockchain’s most spoken about blemish.
The marked reduction in transaction speeds on congested blockchains like Ethereum and Bitcoin -following a rise in actual use- might be one of Tangles biggest advantages.
Theoretically, a Tangle network becomes more efficient as more users participate. This is based on the theory that if more transactions there are being sent through the network, the more users there are to process them.
When it comes to the Hashgraph, scalability is not so straight forward. Yes it’s fast, yes its fair and yes it is secure, however, it is all of the aforementioned from within the permissioned state (similar to IBM blockchainl) it currently operates in.
Since mass adoption is the goal, the Hashgraph may find itself facing the very same problems as other public blockchains. The potential for mass use is still being tested here.
The matter of decentralization
It is argued that small-scale miners band together in bigger groups, which results in power – decision making and computational – being unevenly distributed. Though there no known incidents were pool miners made dictatorship style decisions, the power to filter and postpone certain transactions being in the hands of a few can go a long way in the common goal of decentralization.
In the context of Tangle, it is the participation of the network users that is responsible for its upkeep, which means no concentration of power. This is the idea, however, in practice, Tangle has what it calls the “coordinator node”. This is a “temporary” alternative consensus mechanism, put in place for security reasons (a less robust transaction verification process) but adds an element of centralized control.
In terms of a Hashgraph, fairness is achieved through consensus time stamping. This would mean that a transaction that reaches two thirds of the network ahead of the others is considered the first, two thirds of the network serving as witnesses makes it tricky for a majority to make lobsided decision.
Tangle and the Hashgraph both come in with a strong fighting chance against blockchian technology by addressing some very real issues, however a winner is yet to be decided. At this point in time, neither Tangle’s nor the Hashgraph’s innovative genius has been proven on a mass adoption scale and remains largely speculative. Traditional blockchains, on the other hand, have been enjoying a head start in terms of attention and adoption.