Proof of Space: BitTorrent Creator Publishes Eco-Friendly Mining Paper

BitTorrent developer Bram Cohen has published a white paper setting out an eco-friendly alternative to bitcoin's proof-of-work process.

AccessTimeIconSep 19, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 6:56 a.m. UTC
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BitTorrent developer Bram Cohen has published a new white paper that envisions an eco-friendly alternative to bitcoin's energy-intensive proof-of-work consensus method.

Dubbed "proof-of-space," the method relies on disk space rather than computational power as the main resource for mining (the process by which new transactions are added to a blockchain), creating what is claimed to be a less ecologically damaging and more economical alternative to proof-of-work.

Cohen spoke to CoinDesk back in March about his efforts to develop the solution, work that set the stage for this week's white paper release.

The paper, "Beyond Hellman's Time-Memory Trade-Offs with Applications to Proofs of Space," outlines the use of proof-of-space to establish a mining process that requires less energy (and the natural resources to produce it). Because of the reduction in energy requirements, as well as the reliance on pre-existing hardware, the proposed method is aimed at making mining accessible to anyone with a computer.

Under the proof-of-space system, miners allocate unused disk space to the network, with the probability of successfully mining a block being proportional to the amount of space allocated divided by the total capacity of the network.

In addition to Cohen, the white paper credits Hamza Abusalah, Joel Alwen and Krzysztof Pietrzak from the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, Danylo Khilko from ENS Paris and Leonid Reyzin from Boston University as authors.

It still remains to be seen, however, whether the paper will serve as the basis for a new cryptocurrency, with Cohen telling CoinDesk in March that he doesn't see much need to create a new one.

"For the most part there shouldn't be the need [to launch new coins]," he said, adding:

"But I have this idea about underlying mining and how it works that does make it inherently different."

Hard disks image via Shutterstock

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