Privacy-centered altcoin, Zcoin, has announced the first working implementation of Merkle Tree Proof (MTP) as a proof-of-work (PoW) algorithm. The Zcoin team claims the development will promote high performance, high security and egalitarian computing.
Poramin Insom, Zcoin's lead developer, describes centralization as one of the biggest challenges of PoW. The founder of Zcoin reiterated the original intent of proof-of-work which is to have decentralized security so that you don't have to trust or rely on a centralized authority.
"In a network that is dominated by ASICs, security is left in the hands of the few people who have the capital and technology to dominate the hash rate. It's been argued that with ASICs, the network is more secure due to the increased hash rate. In my opinion, it's not the absolute hash rate that matters, but rather the cost and the barriers to entry that you need to overcome to overtake the network."
What MTP is about
Merkle Tree Proof (MTP) PoW was masterminded by Alex Biryukov and Dmitry Khovratovich in an academic paper.
The same scientists created Equihash. The technology is a solution to the disparity between ordinary miners and power users that can use FPGAs and ASICS to gain a significant advantage and mount a cheap attack. The Zcoin devs have coded MTP from the ground up and now have it running on their testnet.
Therefore, in an effort to encourage egalitarian computing, MTP strives to secure the same price/cost for a single computation unit on all platforms, preventing a single device from gaining a significant advantage for the same price. It also ensures both users and attackers are even in the price-performance quotient conditions, hindering automated large-scale aggression.
Moreso, hashing in MTP is highly memory intensive with the reference implementation in Zcoin using 2 GB of RAM. In this instance, machines infected by trojans in botnets would experience noticeable performance degradation and alert the user of an attack.
“One of the main reasons the Equihash scientists sought to create MTP was to improve upon the drawbacks of a long initialization phase,” said Insom.
“Ultimately, MTP shortens the phase and keeps the algorithm “progress free” and independent of any previous events, leading to more decentralized mining.”
Benefits to ecosystem
But how does MTP enrich the cryptocurrency space? Insom explains that it can keep verification times on par with Bitcoin without requiring a lot of memory once a solution is found, making the network more resistant to DDoS attacks targeting verifiers. More significantly, it further allows lightweight hardware such as smartphones to perform verification that currently is not possible on most of the memory hard algorithms.
"We hope that MTP becomes a serious choice of proof-of-work in cryptocurrencies and that Zcoin's implementation assists in further improvements in this area of research," he concludes.