Algorand Agreement – Super Fast and Partition Resilient Byzantine Agreement View

Abstract: We present a simple Byzantine agreement protocol with leader election, that works under > 2/3 honest majority and does not rely on the participants having synchronized clocks. When honest messages are delivered within a bounded worst-case delay, agreement is reached in expected constant number of steps when the elected leader is malicious, and is reached after two steps when the elected leader is honest. Our protocol is resilient to arbitrary network partitions with unknown length, and recovers fast after the partition is resolved and bounded message delay is restored. We will briefly discuss how the protocol applies to blockchains in a permissionless system. In particular, when an honest leader proposes a block of transactions, the first voting step happens in parallel with the block propagation. Effectively, after the block propagates, a certificate is generated in just one step of voting.

Algorand: Scaling Byzantine Agreements for Cryptocurrencies (SOSP 17’) View

Abstract: Algorand is a new cryptocurrency that confirms transactions with latency on the order of a minute while scaling to many users. Algorand ensures that users never have divergent views of confirmed transactions, even if some of the users are malicious and the network is temporarily partitioned. In contrast, existing cryptocurrencies allow for temporary forks and therefore require a long time, on the order of an hour, to confirm transactions with high confidence.

Algorand uses a new Byzantine Agreement (BA) protocol to reach consensus among users on the next set of transactions. To scale the consensus to many users, Algorand uses a novel mechanism based on Verifiable Random Functions that allows users to privately check whether they are selected to participate in the BA to agree on the next set of transactions, and to include a proof of their selection in their network messages. In Algorand’s BA protocol, users do not keep any private state except for their private keys, which allows Algorand to replace participants immediately after they send a message. This mitigates targeted attacks on chosen participants after their identity is revealed.

We implement Algorand and evaluate its performance on 1,000 EC2 virtual machines, simulating up to 500,000 users. Experimental results show that Algorand confirms transactions in under a minute, achieves 125x Bitcoin’s throughput, and incurs almost no penalty for scaling to more users.

Algorand Theoretical Paper View

Abstract: A public ledger is a tamperproof sequence of data that can be read and augmented by everyone. Public ledgers have innumerable and compelling uses. They can secure, in plain sight, all kinds of transactions —such as titles, sales, and payments— in the exact order in which they occur. Public ledgers not only curb corruption, but also enable very sophisticated applications —such as cryptocurrencies and smart contracts. They stand to revolutionize the way a democratic society operates. As currently implemented, however, they scale poorly and cannot achieve their potential. Algorand is a truly democratic and efficient way to implement a public ledger. Unlike prior implementations based on proof of work, it requires a negligible amount of computation, and generates a transaction history that will not “fork” with overwhelmingly high probability.
Algorand is based on (a novel and super fast) message-passing Byzantine agreement.
For concreteness, we shall describe Algorand only as a money platform.