At A Glance – Hashgraph
Hashgraph could be the future of decentralised technology
As a decentralised data structure, hashgraph is comparable to blockchain. But the similarity ends there. Hashgraph is thought to be faster, fairer and more secure than blockchain, making it a viable alternative which could eventually replace blockchain technology altogether. Delving into the mathematics of the hashgraph can be complex, but the principles behind it are fairly simple. Hashgraphs enable a network of users to achieve consensus about data in a way that is permanent and unalterable. This means that transactions can be made in complete security.
Unlike the blocks of data that are created in blockchain, hashgraphs operate with a directed acyclic graph. This provides a graph connected by hashes, hence why it is known as a hashgraph. Within this graph structure, members share information with each other about transfers of data on the network. Each member randomly calls another to sync its data with them, until all nodes in the system are aware of all the information that has ever been created on the network since its inception. This process of sharing is how the system achieves consensus: the agreement about what events have happened within the network and when. The graph of events forms an unchangeable record of how members have communicated with each other.
In contrast to the way nodes compete with each other to mine blocks in blockchain, the consensus mechanism of hashgraphs can facilitate hundreds of thousands of transactions per second. It also makes these transactions fairer. Individuals cannot affect the order of transactions, or delay the way in which they are processed – a serious weakness in the blockchain system. In addition, the consensus algorithm also eliminates the need for the huge amounts of computing energy which undermines the value and real world applicability of blockchain.
The fast, fair, secure and efficient nature of hashgraph makes it suitable for micropayments, distributed stock markets, live collaboration apps, auctions, games and more. One slight proviso, however. Hashgraphs currently operate as private distributed ledgers, unlike most blockchains, which are public – meaning that anyone can join. The private nature of hashgraph networks has enabled them to avoid many of the security problems which afflict blockchain. If hashgraph ever does go public, it will be a real challenge to maintain the high levels of security and performance that it has achieved in a private setting.