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Thus far we have mainly considered PoW as consensus protocol, but there are many other, including Proof of Stake (PoS), Proof of Authority, or message-based consensus algorithms such as Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance and its many variants (Angelis et al., 2018).

The consensus layer in blockchain systems defines the algorithms and rules for reaching an agreement about the blockchain's state among the network's nodes. Such rules specify which node is eligible for generating and appending the next block to the blockchain ledger, how often blocks are generated as well as how to resolve potential conflicts that may occur when nodes have multiple, differing copies of the ledger.

image(2016) run some simulation experiments using the configurations of different blockchain systems such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Dogecoin. To validate our simulator against these studies, we use the same configurations of the block interval (B interval ) and block propagation delay (B delay ) as reported in these studies. We also compare the simulator results for the stale rate with that of previous peer-reviewed studies. They found the average block propagation delay is 12.6 s and the stale rate is 1.69%. We simulate each configuration for a total of 10,000 blocks and report the average results obtained from 10 independent runs, see Table 4. From Table 4, we see that the stale rates obtained from our simulator are close to the ones reported in previous studies, with a difference of less than 10%. Decker and Wattenhofer (2013) run an experiment on the Bitcoin blockchain by listening to 10,000 blocks. They found that their simulation results matched that of the actual systems.

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In 2017, in a frenzy of speculation (and Google searches), the price spiked just shy of $20,000. Mr Nakamoto has vanished from public view, but his invention has gained prominence—and lately has been soaring in value too. As recently as October it was worth just $10,600. It first gained widespread attention in 2013 as a financial curiosity, when its price climbed above a then giddy-looking $400. But then it began to climb again, passing its old peak on December 17th and ascending to a new high, above $34,000, on January 3rd. In December 2018 it sank to $3,200. It fell back a bit the next day.

But other investors, such as the managers of huge pension funds, are likely to keep steering clear. If some portfolio managers have come around to investing in bitcoin, bitcoin its value could climb further; at least, there may be a floor to its value. If the masses pile in via an ETF, that would also maintain demand. They typically invest in things that generate reliable future cashflows, like bonds or stocks, and tend to shy away from things that don’t, such as gold, other commodities—and bitcoin.

Mr Nakamoto had decided it was time for something new: a decentralised cryptocurrency, free from the control of governments and central banks. TWELVE YEARS ago, on January 3rd 2009, a headline on the front page of the Times read: "Chancellor on brink of second bail-out for banks"—a reference to the British government’s efforts to save the country’s financial system from collapse. The hidden text was a digital battle cry. When Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious inventor of bitcoin, created the first 50 coins, now called the "genesis block", he permanently embedded the date and that headline into the data.

Over the years bitcoin has spawned an entire crypto-ecosystem, including lots of copycat currencies, such as Ethereum, a rival token, and Dogecoin, a joke digital coin; and several exchanges to trade cryptocurrencies, such as Mt. Many have dismissed investing in it as a pursuit for those on the financial (or even legal) fringe. Gox, now defunct, and Coinbase, founded in 2012.

These provide certain "invariants" that we know to be true, such as the frequency of generating blocks and the proportionality between the miner's hashing share and the probability to win the Proof of Work competition. We compare the results from BlockSim with the most popular public blockchains, Bitcoin and Ethereum. Bitcoin and cryptocurrency Ethereum also provide ample public data to validate our simulator.

Yet Mr Druckenmiller likes bitcoin because it is precisely the opposite: thinly traded and thus less liquid and more volatile than gold. It is increasingly treated by those who buy and sell it, and by regulators, as an investment. Bitcoin was conceived as a currency, for payments and transactions. For that it would need to be stable and easy to use. It may be good news for cryptocurrency those holding bitcoin that others are piling in, but speculators’ enthusiasm suggests that cryptocurrencies will fall far short of their founders’ lofty goals.

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