Introduction to Consensus (Part II) with Andrew Lewis-Pye | a16z crypto research talks | Summary and Q&A

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October 7, 2022
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Introduction to Consensus (Part II) with Andrew Lewis-Pye | a16z crypto research talks

TL;DR

This content introduces a partially synchronous consensus protocol, explaining the concepts of consensus, Byzantine agreement, and Byzantine broadcast. It also explores the implications of the synchronous and partially synchronous settings on the reliability of message delivery.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What is the difference between synchronous and partially synchronous settings in consensus protocols?

In the synchronous setting, message delivery is reliable and occurs within a known time frame, while in the partially synchronous setting, message delivery can be delayed or unreliable, but it eventually stabilizes after a certain point called the Global Stabilization Time (GST).

Q: How do Byzantine faults impact the consensus process?

Byzantine faults occur when faulty processors behave arbitrarily, leading to the potential manipulation of messages and the spread of inconsistent information. Byzantine failures make consensus more challenging, as protocols need to be designed to handle and recover from such faults.

Q: What is the role of a public key infrastructure in consensus protocols?

A public key infrastructure provides a means for authenticating messages and verifying the identity of participants in the consensus process. It ensures that processors can trust the messages they receive and make informed decisions based on them.

Q: How does the reliable delivery of messages affect the ability to solve consensus problems?

The reliability of message delivery, whether in the synchronous or partially synchronous setting, impacts the ability to solve consensus problems. In the synchronous setting, where message delivery is reliable, it is easier to achieve consensus. In the partially synchronous setting, protocols need to account for delays and potential failures in message delivery, making consensus more challenging to achieve.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The content explains the concept of consensus in a partially synchronous setting, where message delivery can be unreliable.

  • It discusses the different types of failures that can occur, particularly Byzantine faults, and how they affect the consensus process.

  • The content introduces the notion of a public key infrastructure and explores how it impacts the ability to solve Byzantine agreement and Byzantine broadcast problems.

  • It presents a protocol for solving State Machine Replication (SMR) in the partially synchronous setting.

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