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Byzantine Generals' Problem - An Introduction

Written By Ivan on Tech

May 06, 2020

The Byzantine Generals’ Problem is one of the most well-known and classic problems faced by decentralized networks. Solving this problem was one of the key developments in the creation of Bitcoin and, by extension, all other cryptocurrencies. In this article, we will see what the Byzantine Generals’ Problem is and how Bitcoin manages to solve this perplexing problem.

What is Byzantine Consensus?

The Byzantine generals’ problem was first theorized by the mathematicians Leslie Lamport, Marshall Pease, and Robert Shostak. The generals are a metaphor for nodes in a decentralized network. The core idea behind this thought experiment is this - How do you ensure that a peer-to-peer, distributed network with no central authority can make correct decisions, even if some of the nodes in it turn rogue? Can we make a distributed system that is “trustless” and doesn’t automatically assume that the participants are going to act ethically and work in the...

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