The various consensus mechanisms are the first concepts many people hear about when they come across crypto and step into the Web3 world.
PoS is one of the dominant consensus mechanisms on the blockchain. While the debate between the advantages and disadvantages of PoS and PoW is still up in the air, PoS has come to the forefront of more people's minds with the successful shift from PoW to PoS in Ethereum.
Stake and Validator are topics that cannot be avoided when talking about PoS. So how does validator work as an important part of the PoS network and how does it relate to take? How much do you know about the validator, then and now?
The following will answer these questions for you.
If the cryptography is the technical base of the Web3 world, we could say that the consence is the soul. Consensus mechanism, as the name implies, is a system that enables participants to agree on a consensus. In blockchain, a consensus mechanism is a set of mechanisms including consensus protocols, reward and punishment systems, etc., to solve the problem of reaching a consistent outcome between multiple nodes on a state in a distributed system. The purpose is to ensure that every transaction on the blockchain is recorded and that every node on the blockchain network has access to a copy of the transaction containing the verification according to the mechanism.
As the world's first successful decentralized blockchain network, Bitcoin brought us the PoW consensus algorithm. PoW requires node participants to campaign for the chance to produce blocks through a large number of calculations. The chance to produce blocks means the chance to get a reward, so many people participate in it, and these people are called miners. Since nodes need to keep consuming their own computing power to try different random numbers (nonce) until they find a hash that matches the requirement; and in each consensus cycle, only the workload of the only node that finds that hash the fastest is valid, which means that a lot of resources are wasted in the process.
Hence to solve the problem of wasted resources, PoS was born in 2013 and first applied in the PeerCoin system, and has since gained popularity for its improved performance on the blockchain. To become a block producer in the PoS network, the entry ticket is to take a certain number of tokens, and since each round of block producers in the PoS network will be selected by random numbers among the active validators, participants do not need to compute a lot to grab the opportunity to produce blocks, which greatly reduces the waste of resources caused by PoW.
Let's understand more clearly what PoS is. PoS is known as Proof of Stake, which is a blockchain consensus mechanism based on stake. It is also the most widely used consensus mechanism at present. In a PoS network, a token is defined as the network's native currency, which is usually circulated in the market as the main network goes online. The token holder gets the right to vote on network decisions by locking his token into the blockchain network as collateral. This act of locking is called staking. The more tokens a staker has, the more influence the token holder has on the network. The direction of the network is determined by the common will of the stakers.
Here comes a key role in the PoS consensus mechanism, the Validator. Only node runners who have staked a certain number of tokens have the opportunity to become validators in the network. As part of the PoS consensus mechanism, the validator is responsible for creating blocks, validating them, and adding them to the chain for a reward. When a user initiates a transfer, a block producer selected from the currently active validator set validates the transaction, packages it, and broadcasts it; other validators in the active set receive the broadcast, validate and record the block data, and then continue to broadcast it until the consensus is reached. In addition, validators also vote and participate in on-chain governance by sending cryptographic signatures using their private keys. The above is the basic work of validator in PoS network.
However, as the industry grows, the requirements for validator operators are no longer limited to doing a good job on the chain. In addition to performing well in validation and protecting network security, validator teams that also have outstanding performance in technical support, community contribution, market cooperation, etc. are obviously more favored by the project core teams. On one hand, the development of blockchain projects cannot only rely on the efforts of the initial founding team, which also loses the original intention of Web3 decentralization; on the other hand, blockchain projects themselves are constantly updated and improved, and the projects prefer stable validators who can keep pace and can go farther together.
Having reached a certain stage in the development of PoS, it was found that a simple network structure design may lead to the arrival of a blockchain network that cannot carry large-scale applications in the future, so some projects choose to improve the consensus mechanism, while others will consider more when designing the network structure. Whether or not they can adapt to such changes and build the network and its ecosystem together with the project founding team is a topic that every validator operator must deal with. As an example, Oasis, which separates the consensus and execution layers, offers more possibilities for the development of validators on the Oasis network.
The Oasis network is a Layer1 decentralized privacy blockchain. More unusual than other PoS networks, the Oasis network consists of two architectural components, the consensus layer and the execution layer - ParaTime. 120 validator nodes currently maintain the Oasis consensus layer, of which Wetez is a part. The validator set started with 80 nodes when it went live and has been expanded to 120 nodes after several network upgrades. There are currently three ParaTimes on the Oasis network built by the Oasis core team; the performance and characteristics of each ParaTime reveal Oasis' exploration in solving the Solidity development dilemma (high cost and low throughput) and privacy smart contracts. Wetez is currently running nodes for one of the ParaTime-Cipher ParaTime investigating privacy-preserving smart contracts. The separation of consensus and execution makes it possible for multiple ParaTime to process transactions in parallel, increasing the scalability and versatility of the network; it also means that higher demands are placed on network participants.
Moreover, with the expansion of Web3, the competition among various blockchain networks is becoming increasingly fierce, so besides working together on the technical side, help in operational promotion is also something the project founding teams would like to see in the validators. This is evident from Oasis' preference in setting up Grants and various other incentive programs. The Oasis Grant Program is for technical support, encouraging developers to explore more in eco-tools, ParaTime dApps, New ParaTimes, etc.; the Ambassador Program and Influencer Program are for support in operational promotion.
As the concept of staking is gradually moving away from the PoS consensus mechanism, validator is also no longer limited to the role of a validation node in a standard PoS network.
Being a long-time node operation expert immersed in the staking field, Wetez sees great promise in staking, and it is inevitable that validator, as an executor in the staking economy, will improve itself as staking evolves. Our validator team has also expanded from a simple node runner to a strong team capable of providing comprehensive node services including staking services, tool development, community education, network governance, and more. In the future, how much energy can validator drive? We are very much looking forward to it.