Consensus Mechanism

Course Content
Cosmos Validators: Game-Changing Approaches to Enhance Your Cosmos Validator Decisions
About Lesson

Great, let’s explore Tendermint, the consensus mechanism used in Cosmos. Understanding Tendermint is key to grasping how validators work in the Cosmos ecosystem. 

  1. What is Tendermint?

    • Tendermint is a Byzantine Fault Tolerant (BFT) consensus algorithm. This means it can continue to operate correctly even if some of the validators (up to one-third) act maliciously or are faulty.
    • It separates the blockchain’s application layer (what transactions mean) from the consensus layer (how transactions are agreed upon). This makes it highly versatile and adaptable.
  2. Consensus Process in Tendermint

    • Propose: A validator is randomly selected to propose a new block. The right to propose is rotated among validators and is weighted by the amount of stake they hold.
    • Pre-Vote: Other validators then ‘pre-vote’ for the proposed block. They check the validity of the transactions in the block. If a validator doesn’t receive the proposed block in time or finds it invalid, it pre-votes ‘nil’.
    • Pre-Commit: If more than two-thirds of validators pre-vote for the same block, they move to the ‘pre-commit’ phase, indicating their intention to commit to this block. If not, a new round starts, possibly with a different proposer.
    • Commit: A block is committed and added to the blockchain once more than two-thirds of validators pre-commit to it. The network then moves on to the next block.
  3. Safety and Finality

    • Tendermint ensures that as long as more than two-thirds of validators are honest, the network remains secure.
    • It provides instant finality. Once a block is committed, it can’t be reversed, which is a significant advantage over other consensus mechanisms like Proof of Work (PoW) where reversals can occur (though rarely) in chain reorganizations.
  4. Accountability

    • Validators who act maliciously or go offline are penalized, usually by losing a portion of their staked tokens. This keeps the network secure and promotes validator reliability.
  5. Efficiency and Speed

    • Tendermint can handle a higher transaction throughput compared to PoW and achieves faster block times, making it suitable for many real-world applications.
  6. Governance Integration

    • Tendermint is designed to work seamlessly with on-chain governance, allowing stakeholders to vote on proposals that could affect network parameters, upgrades, or other changes.

Imagine Tendermint as a democratic parliament where each member (validator) has a vote. Proposals (blocks) are made, debated (pre-vote and pre-commit), and passed (committed) in a way that ensures representation and security, even if some members are untrustworthy.

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