Cosmos — an early in-depth analysis at the ecosystem of connected blockchains — Part One

What is Cosmos?

see for high res

The Tendermint consensus algorithm follows a traditional approach which relies on all validators to communicate with one another to reach consensus. Because of the communication overhead, it does not scale to 1000s of validators like Bitcoin or Ethereum, which can have an unlimited number of validators. Tendermint works when there are 100s of validators. (Cosmos Hub currently has a maximum of 100 validators and the maximum tested so far with Tendermint is 180 validators)

Therefore, one of the downsides of a blockchain built using Tendermint is that, unlike Bitcoin or Ethereum, it requires the validators to be known ahead of time and doesn’t allow for miners to come and go as they please.

Besides this, it also requires the system to maintain some notion of time, which is known to be a complex problem in theory. Although in practice, Tendermint has proven this can be done reasonably well if you use the timestamp aggregates of each node.

In this regard, one could argue that Tendermint consensus protocol is “less decentralized” than Bitcoin because there are fewer validators, and they must be known ahead of time.

Tendermint’s protocol guarantees safety and liveness, assuming more than 2/3 of the validators’ voting power is not Byzantine (i.e., malicious). In other words, if less than 1/3 of the network voting power is Byzantine, the protocol can guarantee safety and liveness (i.e., validators will never commit conflicting blocks at the same height and the blockchain continues to make progress).


Layers of a blockchain

Hub and Spoke Topology





Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store