Proof of Work Explained | A Complete Beginner's Guide

Anisa Batabyal
| 23 September, 2019 | 2 min

The blockchain network uses the Proof of Work (PoW) Consensus algorithm to confirm transactions and produce new blocks to the chain. In this process, the miners compete against each other to complete the transactions and get rewarded. In a network, a decentralized ledger gathers all the transactions into blocks. This bears on special nodes called miners, and the process is called mining. It works like a complicated mathematical puzzle, which requires a lot of computational effort to solve. There are certain factors that help solve it, which are:

  • Hash Function: helps how to find the input by knowing the output.
  • Integer Factorization: shows how to present a number as a multiplication of two other numbers.
  • Guided Tour protocol: In case a server suspects a DoS attack, it requires the calculation of hash functions, for some nodes in a particular order. In this case, ‘how to figure out a chain of hash function values’ problem.

As the network is growing, it's facing more difficulties, where it needs more hash power to solve, hence it is a complex as well as a sensitive issue. Here, we have Proof of Work explained simply.

What is Proof of Work (PoW)?

Initially, the concept was introduced in 1993 to prevent denial of service attacks and other spams. In 2009, Bitcoin started using Proof of Work algorithm for validating transactions that are gathered into blocks, which are linked to form a blockchain. Proof of Work Index funds works as exchange-traded funds.

Proof of Work is being used in a lot of cryptocurrencies, of which the most popular one is Bitcoin, which takes an average time of 10 minutes to create a block. HashCash is the PoW system used by BTC, and Proof of Work nonce is a 4-byte field, where the value is adjusted in order to meet the network. Target. Apart from Bitcoin, Litecoin is one such famous project which works on the Proof of Work algorithm code.

Benefits of PoW

The primary benefits of Proof of Work are the low impact of a stake in mining possibilities and anti-DOS attacks defense. PoW imposes some limits on actions in the network as they need a lot of effort and time to do the calculations. As the costs are way too high, it's useless for an attack. What matters is to have the large computational power to solve the puzzle rather than how much money you have in your wallet. Hence, the holders of large amounts are not the main deciding factor for the entire network. You can follow the Proof of Work newsletter to get the latest updates.

Flaws of PoW

There are some drawbacks to this system, which we shall discuss briefly, here.

#1 Huge Expenditures

Mining requires very specialized computer hardware to run complicated algorithms, and the cost is too high and unmanageable. On top of these, the special mining pools require a huge amount of power to run, that deliberately increases the cost. Huge expenses threaten the centralization of the system.

#2 Uselessness of Computations

In order to generate a block, the miners need a lot of power for the machines. However, their calculations are not applicable anywhere else like a business, science, or others.

#3 51% Attack

A 51% attack is a Proof of Work attack by the majority of the group of users, who controls the majority of the mining power. The attackers come in ultimate power, where they can monopolize by creating blocks and receive rewards, as they are able to prevent other miners from block completion. They can even reverse transactions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. What is Bitcoin Proof of Work?

Bitcoin uses the Proof of Work consensus algorithm to create blocks in order to get rewarded.

  1. Why do we need Proof of Work?

Proof of Work is a consensus algorithm needed to produce new blocks and confirm transactions.

  1. How does Proof of Work prevent double-spending?

It's the blockchain that prevents double-spending by timestamping the transactions first and then broadcasting them to all the nodes in the network.

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