Perhaps you’re already familiar with Dash, or even own some coins. Regardless of where you are on your Dash journey, it should have become clear that Dash stands out and isn’t quite like other cryptocurrencies. During your research, you likely noticed recurring terms like “InstantSend” or “ChainLocks.” Each of these plays a role in enabling the high-speed transactions and security that Dash provides. These features are made possible by Long Living Masternode Quorums.
You might find yourself asking, what exactly does any of this mean, and how do these elements come together to make Dash the premium choice for payments?
Know These Terms:
To understand what Long Living Masternode Quorums are and how they influence each of Dash’s offerings, here are some important terms to understand:
Quorums – A quorum is a group of parties and entities that can vote on something, with every member being allowed to vote, with majority being reached with a 51% or higher vote. With quorums, a central concept is the idea that, “something either got the majority of votes or not, there should be nothing in between.” The concept of quorums have existed long before crypto, in other governance-based structures and bodies throughout history. For instance, the Senate of the Roman Empire utilized quorums in their proceedings, just as the modern day U.S. Senate uses quorums too – albeit in different ways.
Confirmations – This is a measurement of how many blocks of transactions miners have published since a transaction was added to the blockchain. Confirmations prove and verify that the transactions added to the blockchain are legitimate. Every additional block added to the blockchain provides greater security, since more confirmations make transactions more difficult for miners to modify. Thus, multiple confirmations add more security, but also take more time.
Masternodes – Powerful, collateral-backed servers that maintain full copies of the Dash blockchain and provide services and governance to the network. Serving as the backbone of the Dash network, masternodes are run by individuals or groups who prove ownership of 1,000 Dash per masternode they operate, and are paid by the network for the services they provide. The Dash ownership prerequisite ensures that masternodes are widely distributed among a large number of operators, thus enabling a number of features that depend on a decentralized network.
ChainLocks – Feature on the Dash Network that provides finality within seconds when a new block of transactions are published. The certainty is achieved through consensus agreement of the masternodes, and the masternodes provide cryptographic signatures broadcasted to all network participants proving their consensus. Once a valid ChainLock message is broadcast, all network participants consider the associated block to be final and unchangeable. In fact, transactions contained in a ChainLocked block can be considered fully confirmed after the first confirmation on the chain.
InstantSend – Feature that provides near instant transaction settlement on the Dash network. InstantSend makes accepting transactions possible prior to receiving block confirmation, unlike most other crypto networks. This makes Dash viable as a real-world payment solution, especially in cases where transaction speed is important, such as transactions at a register.
Now that we understand these terms, it’s time to incorporate them into our understanding of masternode quorums.
Quorums and Dash
Quorums make sense within the realm of blockchain and decentralized governance. Dash’s masternode quorums help run masternode-enabled features in a decentralized and deterministic way, but also in an efficient way since not all masternodes are required to participate in all quorums. Masternode-enabled features include the aforementioned InstantSend and ChainLocks. They are decentralized because they rely on many participants within the Dash network, rather than any single, central authority. Unlike the general concept of a “quorum,” InstantSend and ChainLocks require a supermajority vote of 60%, instead of a simple majority of 51%.
Reaching this majority is significant for instances in which there is a high chance of disagreement. There needs to be certainty when it comes to confirming transactions on a network. After all, a blockchain is a distributed ledger that relies on the concept of consensus. The network is required to properly address conflicting transactions, in order to avoid issues like double spending. A double-spend occurs when one unit of a given cryptocurrency is fraudulently used a second time. The use of quorums on Dash’s InstantSend addressed the issue of conflicting transactions by resolving ambiguities within the Dash network.
Originally with InstantSend, a new quorum of 10 masternodes was selected for each transaction input – every member of that quorum could sign and vote for it. If there was a majority of 6 out of the 10, the network could have confidence in knowing which of the conflicting transactions the network considered “first” and assign it priority over any other conflicting transaction attempting to use the same inputs.
While an InstantSend transaction was extremely fast for the end user, masternode quorums could eventually limit the scalability of instant transactions. This was because each vote within the quorum had to be transmitted across the entire Dash network, which resultantly strained the network with each transaction – both in network and hardware demands. Each transaction generated eleven messages instead of just one. Increased strain on the network could negatively impact reliability, stability, and security of the network. The Dash community quickly realized that as the network and number of transactions on the blockchain grew, this wasn’t going to be the best solution for transaction confirmations.
Long Living Masternode Quorums
Long Living Masternode Quorums (LLMQs) were the solution to the scaling problem associated with the previous masternode quorums. LLMQs only require members of the quorum to transmit and validate individual votes (signature shares). The final result, or recovered signature, is only created and transmitted to the rest of the network once enough votes are collected by a quorum member. Transmitting just the single signature means less strain on CPU, RAM, or other network bandwidth resources. LLMQs provide increased scalability by enabling only one aggregated signature to propagate the entire network. In so doing, this also allowed the quorum sizes to increase which simultaneously increases their security. Ultimately, a valid quorum signature from the masternodes reduces the number of confirmations needed to finalize a transaction, while improving network reliability, stability, and security.
Once LLMQs were created and InstantSend became LLMQ-based, finality of transactions became achievable in about one second. Because the recipient of Dash can immediately spend it the second it is sent to them, they no longer have to worry about funds not settling successfully. Transactions can be made in real-time – for stores, peer-to-peer payments, and any other situation – exactly as they would cash currency. In other words, this allowed the term cryptocurrency to be fully realized in its potential. Most other cryptos are not able to be used as a cash currency. This sets Dash far apart from the crowd and brings utility other coins cannot bring.
LLMQs helped scale InstantSend without sacrificing decentralization or security on the Dash blockchain. In fact, combined with Dash’s ChainLocks feature, LLMQ-based InstantSend made Dash instant while remaining immune to 51% mining attacks. 51% mining attacks are cases in which a bad actor or party reverses transactions that were previously considered “confirmed.” This would allow bad actors to steal previously processed transactions and funds. LLMQs allowed for the InstantSend immediate settlement, while ChainLocks made sure confirmations were confirmed.
All of Dash’s features come together to make Dash a perfect fit for the increasingly “meta” world. The masternodes’ role in LLMQs makes InstantSend instant and scalable, while making it even more secure than before through ChainLocks. The resulting speed and finality of transactions on Dash make it an ideal payment method. For something like Bitcoin, full transaction finality will take about an hour. Dash only requires mere seconds. For widespread crypto adoption to become a reality, people need to be able to actually spend their crypto for real-world use and do it in real time. Dash is that crypto, and it’s built to actually be used.
Author: Jun C