Mina: The World’s Lightest Blockchain

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It’s almost impossible for developers to create a protocol with these three important ingredients – security, scalability, and decentralization. These three ingredients, however, exist in ideal cases. Their existence is termed the blockchain trilemma, and this name was given by Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum.

Since blockchains protocols don’t exist in the real sense but the blockchain trilemma, most blockchains exist as having only two of these three ingredients? That is security and scalability without decentralization or decentralization and security without scalability.

Most blockchains are highly decentralized, but they often face the challenge of overcoming scalability or security.

Bitcoin, for instance, faces a problem of scalability.

However, one blockchain protocol called Mina protocol is promising to solve the problems mentioned above. 

The Mina protocol is a lightweight blockchain that helps to improve the decentralization of codes on the network. Asides from this, the Mina protocol has so many to offer.

In this article, we will be looking at the Mina protocol, its architecture, and the risks associated with the Mina protocol.

Mina Protocol: Architecture and Procedures

Mina protocol is a rebrand from the Coda protocol. It changed its name from Coda protocol to Mina protocol in October 2020.

The Mina protocol is said to be brief, cutting down the numerous requirements for running Dapps effectively. Because Mina Protocol doesn’t require much space, it’s often referred to as the “succinct blockchain”.

Here is a significant problem that the Mina protocol has solved.

Blockchains are developed with high-security measures that protect information locked on the blockchain. These security codes protect transactions on the blockchain too.

Seeing the strong tide of technological advancement, more people have moved to storing and transacting on blockchains.

The sudden influx of users on blockchains has caused a lag in this blockchain technology. This lap is due to the shortening of blockchains sizes due to the high number of users in a blockchain.  

For blockchains like the bitcoin blockchain, larger bandwidth (storage) has been used to accommodate many users on the platform. So, it explains the reason for the large bitcoin blockchain size – 320 GB.

On the other hand, the Mina protocol has a size of 22kb, which is way lower than a bitcoin and other networks. This constant low size of the Mina protocol is attributed to the protocol’s ability to condense its blockchain using zero-knowledge proofs.

Moving on, Mina protocol aims to enhance payment options by advancing its payment system for easy distribution on the platform and the ease of verification of its users. 

On its white paper, you may see this termed as “succinct blockchain”.

Mina Protocol Architecture

A protocol’s architecture will refer to certain rules that the protocol abides by to function. It is these rules that determine the decentralization activity and security efficiency of a blockchain. Just like every other protocol, the Mina protocol has its architecture.

Block Producers

A Mina block producer produces new blocks for the blockchain. In producing new blocks, it validates the current state of the blockchain. 

A Mina block producer aims to provide security and achieve consensus on the blockchain.

On the Mina protocol, blockchain producers are not limited to certain people. Instead, any with the current state of the block can produce a block.

To produce a block ultimately, one must have enough computing power to reduce a blockchain SNARK within the slot time and connect to peers to broadcast the generated block. The developed connection to peers must be within an acceptable time, as the network consensus parameters state.

Stake Delegation

On Mina protocol, it’s possible to delegate funds and undelegated funds. Delegated funds can’t be spent. To undelegate funds, one must re-delegate them to their original account.

The Life Cycle of Payment

Payment is a transaction that transfers value from accounts to accounts with a transaction fee inclusive. The transaction fee is the charge to be paid by the sender to transfer his value to the recipient’s account.

Payment on the Mina protocol passes through various steps before they’re verified. Here are the payment verification steps on the Mina protocol.

  • Payment Creation: – Step 1

Members of the Mina Protocol can create a payment then share it within the network. The Mina network then stamps it with a cryptographic key that validates the transaction from the sender.

The transaction is then sent to the network for processing by peers on the network. On receiving the payment, each peer gets a copy of the transaction in the local transaction pool. The local transaction pool is a memory store that stores all transactions a peer network has processed.

  • Producing a Block:- Step 2

A block producer’s note is picked for a given time slot, with the active block producer choosing an in-flight payment depending on the payment fees. The active block producer then places the transaction fees on a transition block, also a list.

Also, the block producer defines the structure of a transition by generating a SNARK. The producer then transmits this new information for processing by the SNARK workers.

It’s important to note that block producers earn Mina as rewards when they build blocks.

  • Transaction SNARK Proving:- Step 3

To prove transactions, worker nodes perform SNARK calculations on each transition block.

These proofs emerge as individual proofs and neighboring proofs of payment. In the end, all payments are verified.

By generating proofs, SNARK workers earn currencies from the paid block producers. They then transmit the evidence over the network.

  • Payment Verification:- Step 4

After verifying, the block producer sends out verification to all members of the block. The members then apply the required changes to their accounts before it reflects.

Proof of Stake Mechanism

The Mina protocol proof of stake functions majorly on the Ouroboros protocol. The Ouroboros protocol extends and modifies the Mina protocol blockchain.

Before now, the Ouroboros protocol was an extension of Praos, but now, it is the Ouroboros genesis.

Being a newer extension of Praos, Ouroboros protocol fixes any vulnerability that involves forks long fork attacks.

Scan State

Scan state refers to a data structure that permits transaction SNARKs production to decouple the output from block producers to snark workers. Also, due to the scan state’s data structure, SNARK proof generalization transactions can be completed and parallelized by several snark workers in a competition.  

Furthermore, because block producers don’t need to produce transaction SNARKs, there isn’t a change in the production time of the block. Also, irrespective of the transaction throughput, there is a constant time for block production. 

Scan state is replete with several full-binary trees, with each node present in a tree being worked on by snark workers. Periodically, single proofs from atop a full-binary tree are returned by the scan state. The proof affirms that transactions done at the tree’s base are correct.

Tokens 

Tokens are an avenue for users to issue and create their unique tokens. However, they require users to open a particular token account. 

Mina protocol allows users to mint their tokens which they can send using specialized token accounts. Mina’s command-line interface, also referred to as CLI, is the major way users interact on Mina’s Blockchain with tokens.

CLI offers an interface that encourages the functional creation of a new token account, new tokens, and minting of non-default tokens. Additionally, CLI features advanced daemon and client commands.

Snapps

Being the lightest blockchain in the world, Mina has a new applications category known as Snapps: Snarkified Applications. 

Similar to Ethereum Dapps, snapps are at a higher level due to their unique and specific properties. These properties,

  • Aid the verification of data pieces without giving off information on what they are.
  • Aid verification of costly computations correct execution.
  • Possess important scalability benefits.

Typically, snapps can be explained as Snapps = Dapps + Privacy + Off-Chain Data + Scalability. It is important to note that Mina’s snapps are way more efficient than Ethereum Dapps. Mina’s snapps benefit from Mina’s Blockchain scalability potential owing to Mina’s succinct nature.

How Mina Works

The Mina protocol runs on two major components – SNARK and Ouroboros Samasika. It is these two components that give the protocol its uniqueness. 

SNARK, for example, allows the protocol to maintain its small size despite the addition of some blocks to the blockchain. 

SNARK is a type of succinct cryptographic proof, and it validates each block after addition to a blockchain. Through this, it’s easy for nodes to store tiny proofs rather than the entire blockchain. 

On the other hand, the Mina protocol uses a unique Pos mechanism known as the Ouroboros Samasika. The Ouroboros Samasika provides bootstrapping via a genesis block. 

Succinct blockchains carry two significant functions; updating and verification.

In verifying, the succinct blockchain verifies blockchain, verifies consensus, and verifies blocks.

On the other hand, the succinct blockchain updates consensus and chain summary.

Asides from all these, the Mina blockchain also optimizes the storing of transactions. This is done by joining unproven blocks and submitting the process to a parallel prover. All of these it does by using a side-by-side scan. 

Risks Associated With Mina Protocol and Their Complications

  • What to do if your node crashes every minute?

More often than not, crashing nodes are due to configuration problems. The problem could be incorrect permission on the private key, incorrect characters, and incorrect peering.

  • Errors occur when running the docker command.

To solve this, you can add your current user to the docker group. You can also add a prefix command, but this is not always recommended.

  • What is the permission required for the keys directory?

Keys directory has about 700 permissions, with private keys having 600 key files. All of these commands help to update your keys directory in your home directory.

  • Sync status offline?

This clearly indicates the absence of a message for twenty-four hours. That is, you have not received any message from your peers in the last 24 hours.

  • Number of transactions in a block

When writing this article, the current network is 128, including a coin base transaction and other fee transfers.

  • Problem finding your transaction in a block?

Often, the transaction was stuck and would indicate pending. Afterwards, the transaction will leave the transaction pool. You may try sending it again.

  • Canceling payments before syncing?

Payments can be canceled before syncing only if the funds are in the ledger.

To Wrap It Up

Mina protocol has stood the test of time, working efficiently, combining ingredients to allow you to transact easily on a blockchain. When writing this article, the current network is 128, including a coin base transaction and other fee transfers.

Mina protocol has solved lagging problems that arise due to the overcrowdedness of users on a blockchain. It was able to do this while still maintaining the decentralization of nodes.

On Mina protocol, transactions are secured on blockchains, and several blockchains can be added. Anyone can create a block; creating a partnership on Mina protocol is not restricted to a set of people.

Looking at the architecture, Mina Protocol has a bright future in blockchain technology.

Also read: Iron Fish: The Private Cryptocurrency

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