Zcoin is announcing the public release of the first working implementation of Merkle Tree Proof (MTP) as a proof-of-work (PoW) algorithm. According to the Zcoin team, this will promote high performance, faster lightweight verification for a fairer mining process (including CPUs), high security, and egalitarian computing.
Zcoin created the code from the MTP algorithm and is first to implement it, based on the 2016 paper “Egalitarian Computing.” by Alex Biryukov and Dmitry Khovratovich from the University of Luxembourg. See also these 2016 presentation slides. The two researchers are also known for creating Equihash, currently used in ZCash. According to Zcoin, MTP promotes fair and democratic mining by making ASIC development expensive.
This video quickly explains MTP in simple terms:
“One of the main reasons the Equihash scientists sought to create MTP was to improve upon the drawbacks of a long initialization phase,” said Poramin Insom, founder and lead developer of Zcoin, in a press release. “Ultimately, MTP shortens the phase and keeps the algorithm ‘progress free’ and independent of any previous events, leading to more decentralized mining.”
Zcoin is the first privacy-centric cryptographic currency that has implemented the Zerocoin protocol, a recent academic developments in Bitcoin research. Zcoin wants to solve the privacy problem found in all previous cryptocurrencies and allow users to have financial privacy on the blockchain via Zero-Knowledge cryptographic proofs.
The Zerocoin protocol was initially conceived as an extension on top of Bitcoin. “There was a lot of support for Zerocoin from key members of the Bitcoin community,” notes the Zcoin FAQ. “However, Bitcoin has the primary goal of ensuring stability in its money supply, by moving slowly with only unanimously agreed upon changes. As a result of the political deadlock, the Zcoin project was created.”
Zcoin shouldn’t be confused with the currently more popular Zcash: Zerocoin and Zerocash do have common authors but only through the academic paper. Besides that, the projects have no link and founders are different.
Zcoin will be organizing a miner bounty program open to the community for development of efficient miners for MTP. The competition will award a total of $20k USD distributed among the best miners for CPU and GPU.
MTP is presented as a solution to the disparity between ordinary miners and power users that can use GPU, FPGA and ASICS to gain a significant advantage and mount a cheap attack. In an effort to promote egalitarian computing, MTP aims to establish the same price/cost for a single computation unit on all platforms, keeping a single device from gaining a significant advantage for the same price. Both users and attackers are equal in the price-performance ratio conditions, stopping automated large-scale attacks. Furthermore, hashing in MTP is highly memory intensive with Zcoin’s reference implementation using 2 GiB of RAM, and machines infected by trojans in botnets would experience noticeable performance degradation and alert the user of an attack.
In addition, MTP can keep verification times on par with Bitcoin without requiring a lot of memory once a solution is found. This makes the network more resistant to DoS attacks targeting verifiers. More importantly, it also allows lightweight hardware such as smartphones to perform verification not possible on most memory hard algorithms today.
Image from Pixabay.