After a ton of hints from the IOTA Foundation, a website detailing how the coordinator will be killed off in a ‘coordicide’ has been released on 28 May, 2019. This marks the end of the centralized validator on the Tangle, but the implementation is not expected to be anytime too soon.
Living Up to Their Promise
The Foundation promised the coordinator would be removed from the network once they were certain the network would be able to sustain itself on existing hash power and without milestones. Milestones are a checkpoint that show the history of the chain and confirmed transactions up till it was published.
IOTA’s low hash rate is a direct result of their idea to build a payment network for the Internet of Things (IoT). No transaction fees and a low difficulty Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus mechanism are critical features that allow users to validate their own transactions from lightweight devices like phones and tablets.
The Foundation clearly feels the network has enough hash power to sustain itself without a major transaction reorg. IOTA is a chain of individual transactions that are connected to previous transactions in front and will be connected by future connections at the back. A reorg would not mix up the order of blocks, as it isn’t a blockchain, it could potentially mess the entire chain of transactions.
Details of the Coordicide
One of the biggest challenges of eliminating the coordinator and making it a truly decentralized and peer-to-peer network, is auto-peering. In its current state, a new node has to manually enter the address of a few existing nodes to peer with them and join the network. Auto peering will push these new nodes into connections with existing nodes as soon as they join the network. This will be done with a peer discovery system where a node chooses their neighbor node and accepts the requests of those who want to become its own neighbor.
Rate control is another key issue in maintaining the core function of IOTA. If the difficulty is too high, users from phones would take too long to compute their PoW to validate their transaction. On the other hand, if the difficulty is too low, it encourages network spam and congestion.
Sybil resistance is proposed through a proof of ownership style mechanism; nodes must prove their ownership of tokens but can also delegate their ownership as ‘mana’ to trustworthy nodes. This doesn’t change a node’s actual account balance but it allows them to reward trustworthy nodes for their service to the network.
The process is listed in much more detail in the whitepaper released on the new website. It includes the research challenges they face and how they currently plan to deploy the new mechanisms. The coordicide, if successful, will be a huge breakthrough for IOTA as their current no-miner model is incredibly viable – only held back by an unwillingness to use a centralized network.