As blockchain technology advances, droves of users have flocked to the blockchain space, and the underlying blockchain infrastructures received more attention. For blockchain developers and users, the biggest concern is how to build a well-performing, secure public chain with high TPS and low fees. Many new public chains have emerged over recent years and brought certain innovations and breakthroughs. In the public chain category, many projects have flourished.
While most public chains focus on improving their performance, one public chain protocol emphasizes the size of the blockchain. Right now, the size of Bitcoin has exceeded 300GB. Additionally, chains that include Ethereum, Litecoin, and Dash are also growing rapidly in size as the number of transactions keeps going up.
Direct involvement in a blockchain (validating transactions) has become a luxury for the average user. After all, synchronizing increasingly heavy blockchains might be expensive (in terms of hardware), time-consuming, and energy-intensive. Most users are still relying on third parties to validate on-chain transactions. O(1) Labs believes that this goes against the original promise of blockchain and is not true decentralization.
Therefore, in June 2017, O(1) Labs kicked off a new open-source project to design a protocol that could deliver on the original promise of blockchain — true decentralization, scale, and security. That is Mina, a small, scalable, secure blockchain protocol.
Source: Mina Protocol
Mina is the first blockchain protocol that emphasizes succinctness. It compresses the blockchain to a constant size through succinct zero-knowledge proofs (zk-SNARKs), so that no matter how much the transaction volume grows, the blockchain will always remain about 22KB in size. This allows users to quickly synchronize and verify the network through ordinary devices and enables more satisfying user experiences.
Zero-knowledge proofs, the core technology enabling Mina Protocol, verify the state of the network without revealing the contents of the chain. That said, how does Mina compress the blockchain to such a small size?
Source: Mina Protocol
Imagine a scenario where a geologist hiking through a forest encounters a row of heavy boulders (like blocks on a chain). She wants to examine their marble interior (i.e. validate their transactions). She cuts them open, studies them, and reports her findings. Colleagues from around the world (other validators) want to see the boulders but can’t afford the cost of travel (the cost of running a full node for validation).
Here is her solution: she takes a photo of each boulder (the photos are zero-knowledge proofs— a snapshot of each block). Now people don’t have to visit the boulders in person — the photos are just as good.
Although this “snapshot” approach significantly reduces the size of the blockchain, it will still grow larger, and as more blocks are generated over time, the blockchain network will still become enormous.
Therefore, our geologist improved the original solution. She takes a photo of the first boulder, takes a photo of the second boulder and the first photo, then takes a photo of the third boulder and the second photo… She keeps taking snapshots of each boulder alongside the most recent photo and sends her colleagues the last one. This is why she doesn’t need the previous photo. After all, it is included in the next photo.
Through this validation process of zk-SNARK (Zero Knowledge Succinct Non-Interactive Arguments of Knowledge), Mina compresses a chain measured in hundreds of gigabytes into a fixed size (22KB).
At the moment, Mina is the lightest blockchain in the world. Through zk-SNARKs, Mina allows each participant to function as a full node, which realizes the scale and decentralization goals of the blockchain. Users can now manage their MINA in ViaWallet. Download the app and try it out: https://viawallet.com/download
Official website of Mina Protocol: https://minaprotocol.com/
Market cap ranking: https://coinmarketcap.com/currencies/mina/
Manage MINA: https://viawallet.com/download