Avalanche (blockchain platform)

Avalanche is a decentralized, open-source proof of stake blockchain with smart contract functionality. AVAX is the native cryptocurrency of the platform.

Icon of Avalanche
Original author(s)Emin Gün Sirer, Kevin Sekniqi, Maofan “Ted” Yin
White paperhttps://www.avalabs.org/whitepapers
Initial release23 September 2020; 3 years ago (2020-09-23)
Code repositoryhttps://github.com/ava-labs/
Development statusActive
Written inGo, TypeScript, JavaScript, Python, Vue
Developer(s)Ava Labs
Source modelOpen source
Block explorerhttps://explorer.avax.network/

History edit

Avalanche began as a protocol for solving for consensus in a network of unreliable machines, where failures may be crash-fault or Byzantine.[1] The protocol's fundamentals were first shared on the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) in May 2018 by a pseudonymous group of enthusiasts going by the name "Team Rocket".[2]

Avalanche was later developed by researchers from Cornell University led by Emin Gün Sirer and doctoral students Maofan "Ted" Yin and Kevin Sekniqi.[3] Following the research stage, a startup technology company was founded to develop a blockchain network that would meet finance industry requirements.[4][5][3] In March, 2020, the AVA codebase (Developer Accelerator Program or AVA DAP) for the Avalanche consensus protocol was released as open-source and became available to the public.[6]

In September, 2020, the company also issued its native token Avax.[7]

In September 2021, the Ava labs foundation received a $230 million investment from a group consisting of Polychain and Three Arrows Capital, through the purchase of the AVAX cryptocurrency.[8]

In November 2021, following an agreement with Deloitte to improve U.S. disaster-relief funding, the Avalanche blockchain moved into the top 10 cryptocurrencies in terms of capitalization.[9]

In August 2022, whistleblower "Crypto Leaks" published a report accusing Ava Labs of secret deals with a law firm aimed at legally destabilizing Avalanche's competitors. Ava Labs CEO Emin Gün Sirer denied any sort of illegal or unethical deal with Roche Freedmen law firm.[10]

In January 2023, a partnership was announced between Avalanche and Amazon to improve Avalanche's infrastructure and decentralized application ecosystem.[11]

In February 2023, Indian game streaming platform Loco teamed up with the Avalanche blockchain.[12]

Design edit

AVAX edit

Avalanche (AVAX) is the native token of Avalanche, traded on the X-Chain.[13]

Protocol edit

The protocol has four basic interrelated mechanisms that compose structural support of the consensus tool. These four mechanisms are Slush, Snowflake, Snowball, and Avalanche. By using randomized sampling and metastability to ascertain and persist transactions, It represents a new protocol family. Although the original paper focused on a single protocol, namely Avalanche, it implicitly introduced a broad spectrum of voting-based, or quorum-based consensus protocols, called the Snow family.[2] While Avalanche is a single instantiation, the Snow family seems to be able to generalize all quorum-based voting protocols for replica control. Unlike prior quorum-based work, the Snow family enables arbitrarily parametrizable failure probability at the quorum intersection level. Standard quorum-based protocols define this failure probability to be precisely zero, but by introducing errors in the quorum intersection, a larger set of consensus protocol designs is available.[14]

Background edit

Consensus protocols are the basis for the state machine replication problem, which aims to enable a set of machines to achieve agreement over a network even when a subset of the machines are corrupted. There are two major families of consensus protocols to date - classical consensus and Nakamoto consensus protocols.[15] The first achieves consensus through quorums, thus requiring voting. Famous instantiations of this are Paxos (in the crash-fault-tolerant environment) and PBFT[16] in the Byzantine-fault tolerant case. These protocols achieve agreement in a similar operation to a parliament: a proposal (transaction) is proposed and voted on to be accepted or rejected. If sufficient votes cast by the various replicas are accumulated (typically collected through elected leader replica), then a quorum is achieved, and thus agreement.

The second family, pioneered by Satoshi Nakamoto and Bitcoin is that of the Nakamoto consensus. Unlike quorum-based protocols, machines operating an instance of Nakamoto consensus achieve agreement on transactions by downloading the longest chain (typically called a fork). In Bitcoin, the longest chain is verified by ensuring that it is the one with the highest degree of work (or proof of work). Snow, while quorum-based, seems to be a universal generalization of all quorum-based protocols. Unlike prior work which requires that quorums be deterministic, i.e. the failure probability is precisely zero, Avalanche loosens this requirement, thus enabling quorum-based protocols to estimate global network state with errors.[14]

Assumptions edit

While the Snow family can be theoretically generalized to all classes of assumptions that quorum-based protocols have previously made, the formalization paper analyzes Avalanche under an asynchronous network in the Byzantine setting.[17][16][18] The assumptions are as follows:


  • Processors operate at arbitrary speed.
  • Processors may experience arbitrary failures, even Byzantine ones.
  • Processors with stable storage may re-join the protocol after failures.
  • Processors can collude, lie, or otherwise attempt to subvert the protocol. (That is, Byzantine failures are permissible.)[16]


  • Processors can send messages to any other processor.
  • Messages are sent asynchronously and may take arbitrarily long to deliver.
  • Messages may be lost, reordered, or duplicated.
  • Messages are delivered without corruption, i.e. an adversary cannot forge digital signatures.[16]

Consensus edit

The Avalanche consensus algorithm is a sophisticated approach to achieving consensus in various blockchain networks. It utilizes a randomized voting system to quickly confirm transactions, achieve high throughput, and reduce the risk of splits. This approach also allows for the creation of subnets, which can operate independently with their own validators and parameters.[19]

The consensus mechanism also involves a set of sub-protocols, including Avalanche-X, Avalanche-C, and Avalanche-P, to achieve fast, secure, and decentralized transactions on its network. Avalanche consensus can confirm transactions in less than a second and scale to thousands of transactions per second (TPS), making it one of the fastest and most scalable consensus mechanisms in the blockchain industry.[19]

Safety and liveness properties edit

The Snow family generalizes the typical definitions of safety and liveness encountered in quorum-based protocols. For Avalanche specifically, these properties are:

Agreement (or consistency, or safety)
If any node (or machine) finalizes a value *v*, no other node will finalize another value *u* that conflicts with *v* with probability higher than $\epsilon$.
Termination (or liveness)
If network resumes synchronous operation, then all nodes will achieve agreement.

Avalanche, like other asynchronous networks, is not guaranteed to terminate and thus does not have the liveness property, during asynchrony. Like Paxos, Avalanche's goal is to ensure fault tolerance and it guarantees safety under asynchrony, but not liveness. This is in contrast to Nakamoto consensus, which guarantees liveness, and not safety under asynchrony.[16]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Avalanche Documentation". GitHub.
  2. ^ a b Rocket, Team (16 May 2018). "Snowflake to Avalanche: A Novel Metastable Consensus Protocol Family for Cryptocurrencies".
  3. ^ a b "Blockchain startup raises a quick $42M in first sale". Cornell Chronicle.
  4. ^ "A Cornell University Crypto Professor Is Launching His Own Coin". Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg. 16 May 2019.
  5. ^ Leising, Mathew (April 17, 2020). "New Startup Aims to Prove Blockchain Is Fast Enough for Finance". Bloomberg. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  6. ^ "AVA Labs releases codebase for AVA blockchain platform". Enterprise Times. 17 March 2020.
  7. ^ "Blockchain Startup Ava Labs Makes Crypto Veteran Top Lawyer". Bloomberg Law.
  8. ^ "Avalanche Raises $230 Million From Sale of Surging Crypto Token". Bloomberg. Bloomberg Law. 16 September 2021.
  9. ^ "Avalanche Surges Into Crypto Top 10 on Deloitte Deal". Bloomberg Law. 22 November 2021.
  10. ^ "Avalanche Crypto News: What's Going On With The Scandal Surrounding AVAX?". forbes.com.
  11. ^ Melinek, Jacquelyn (11 January 2023). "AWS partners with Avalanche to Scale Blockchain Solutions for Enterprises, Governments". TechCrunch. Retrieved 7 February 2023.
  12. ^ "Loco will create esports and streaming experiences on the Avalanche blockchain". VentureBeat. 2023-02-21. Retrieved 2023-03-15.
  13. ^ "Overview | Avalanche Docs". docs.avax.network. Retrieved 2021-12-19.
  14. ^ a b Tanana, Dmitry (2019). "Avalanche blockchain protocol for distributed computing security". 2019 IEEE International Black Sea Conference on Communications and Networking (BlackSea Com). Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. pp. 1–3. doi:10.1109/BlackSeaCom.2019.8812863. ISBN 978-1-7281-3234-1. S2CID 201649683.
  15. ^ Roy, Sangita; Shyamasundar, Rudrapatna K. (2023). "An Analysis of Hybrid Consensus in Blockchain Protocols for Correctness and Progress". In Atluri, Vijayalakshmi; Ferrara, Anna Lisa (eds.). Data and Applications Security and Privacy XXXVII. Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Vol. 13942. Cham: Springer Nature Switzerland. pp. 404–412. doi:10.1007/978-3-031-37586-6_24. ISBN 978-3-031-37586-6.
  16. ^ a b c d e Castro, Miguel (February 1999). "Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2006-08-31.
  17. ^ Yin (June 2019). "Scalable and Probabilistic Leaderless BFT Consensus through Metastability". arXiv:1906.08936 [cs.DC].
  18. ^ Chitra, Tarun; Chitra, Uthsav (2019). "Committee Selection is More Similar Than You Think: Evidence from Avalanche and Stellar". arXiv:1904.09839 [cs.DC].
  19. ^ a b "Avalanche Platform | Avalanche Dev Docs". docs.avax.network. Retrieved 2023-05-02.