December 14, 2018updated 03 Jan 2019 2:27pm

Egalitarian cryptocurrency mining: Blockchain technology launches to “bring back fair distribution”

By Lucy Ingham

An algorithm that is designed to level the cryptocurrency mining playing field by making it equally possible to mine on everyday computers as large-scale rigs has been deployed for the first time.

Known as Merkle Tree Proofs (MTP), it has been launched on Zcoin, an open-source cyptocurrency designed to maximise privacy and anonymity during blockchain transactions.

First implemented on 23 October, Zcoin had a full switchover on 10 December. This means that any Zcoin blocks mined using the platform’s old algorithm, known as Lyra2z, are now rejected.

What is the Merkle Tree Proofs algorithm?

MTP is a proof-of-work algorithm, which makes each block time-consuming and resource-intensive to mine, but easy for others to verify. The same type of algorithm is used to mine and verify Bitcoin.

This is in contrast to proof-of-stake algorithm, where each new block is selected to be created based on its wealth and age, otherwise known as a stake. Etherium plans to switch to proof-of-stake as it is less resource-intensive, however has not done so.

MTP, however, is designed to rival the growth of centralised crypto mining with application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) farms. While these are designed to outperform regular CPUs and GPUs used to mine cryptocurrency in regular computers, they do not perform notably faster on MTP.

This is because MTP’s resource draw is not on a machine’s CPU or GPU, but instead on RAM, which ASIC farms do not have an advantage in.

Democratic cryptocurrency mining

MTP is first and foremost designed to level the playing field for individual miners, and was first detailed in a paper called Egalitarian Computing by Alex Biryukov and Dmitry Khovratovich.

By making cryptocurrency mining as effective on home computers as custom farms, the system created what Zcoin describes as “a wider and fairer distribution of coins,” which the company argues is important to increase use and adoption of a given cryptocurrency.

It also is designed to deter large-scale attacks.

“We are excited to be the first cryptocurrency to pioneer MTP on a blockchain network and see this as a necessary step in our fight to bring back fair distribution to crypto mining,” said Reuben Yap, COO of Zcoin.

“ In the early stages of cryptocurrency, we need to find solutions which prevent those with sufficient resources like ASICs to gain an unfair advantage over the network and push out the everyday crypto user.”

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