How NEAR protocol works today

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The NEAR Protocol has developed several innovative technologies that significantly enhance the efficiency, scalability, and usability of its blockchain. This article explores the key components of NEAR’s blockchain advancements, including its hybrid consensus mechanism known as Doomslug, the Nightshade sharding solution, stateless validation, and the improved user and developer experience.

Doomslug: A Hybrid Consensus Mechanism

NEAR Protocol utilizes a unique consensus mechanism called Doomslug, which combines elements of Byzantine Fault Tolerance (BFT) with a non-BFT consensus approach. This hybrid system allows for faster block production by simplifying the consensus process. Instead of requiring immediate finalization, blocks are produced quickly and finalized over time as more blocks are built on top of them. Validators participate by sending approvals to subsequent block producers, streamlining the block production and minimizing latency, thus maximizing throughput.

What is the name of NEAR Protocol's unique hybrid consensus mechanism?

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Nightshade: Simplifying Blockchain Sharding

The Nightshade design integrates all shard chains into a single blockchain, eliminating the complexities associated with traditional sharded blockchains. This approach does away with the need for a main chain or relay chain to coordinate shards, simplifying cross-shard transactions and reducing potential bottlenecks. Each shard contributes a chunk (a shard-specific block) to the overall blockchain, maintaining its integrity and continuity. Nightshade enhances data availability and security through erasure coding, which ensures that even with partial data loss, the network can recover the full dataset from the distributed pieces among validators.

Which of the following best describes the Nightshade sharding solution?

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Stateless Validation: Addressing Validator Efficiency

Stateless validation is a groundbreaking feature in NEAR Protocol that addresses challenges related to state growth and validator resource requirements. By allowing validators to verify transactions without maintaining a complete state, the system reduces the computational and storage demands on individual validators. This setup not only facilitates faster and more frequent validator reassignments across shards but also enhances security by making it difficult for attackers to predict validator assignments. Stateless validation significantly lowers the barriers to entry for validators, potentially increasing the decentralization and robustness of the network.

Enhancing User and Developer Experience

NEAR Protocol focuses on simplifying the user and developer experience through several intuitive features:

  • Function Call Access Keys: These keys allow users to interact with specific functions of a smart contract without exposing their entire account, enhancing security and usability.
  • Chain Signatures: This feature enables transactions across different blockchains, allowing NEAR accounts to interact seamlessly with other blockchain environments. It simplifies the process of managing cross-chain interactions, reducing the complexity for users.
  • Simplified Account Management: NEAR’s account model is designed to be user-friendly, supporting features like multisig configurations and flexible permission settings for external applications.
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