A team of researchers from universities in Australia and the United States, in collaboration with quantum technology company BTQ, have proposed a novel proof-of-work (PoW) scheme for blockchain consensus that relies on quantum computing techniques to validate consensus. Dubbed “Proof-of-work consensus by quantum sampling,” the preprint research paper details a system that the authors claim “provides dramatic speedup and energy savings relative to computation by classical hardware.”
The current algorithms for solving PoW consensus puzzles are slow and require a significant amount of computation resources to process. Whereas classical PoW schemes such as Bitcoin’s are notoriously energy inefficient, the researchers’ boson sampling-based PoW scheme offers a far more energy-efficient alternative when implemented on quantum hardware. According to the authors, the quantum advantage provided by this scheme would also increase the difficulty of mining, thus making it possible to “maintain consistent block mining time” as the number of miners increases, further incentivizing continuing participation of “quantum miners.”
The sampling process the researchers refer to, boson sampling, isn’t a new one, but its application to blockchain technology is novel. Boson sampling has shown promise in numerous quantum computing applications, and its potential is expected to be huge in future-proofing blockchain applications and, potentially, lowering the environmental impact of mining on the Bitcoin blockchain and similar chains.
Quantum hardware has a leg up on old school computers due to the nature of how blockchain mining works. One of the current advantages of classical supercomputers over their new quantum cousins is the ability to “precompute” when handling the same class of problem regularly. But, when it comes to blockchain, such precompute is essentially wasted. Mining is a problem that is “progress-free.” No matter how many times a blockchain puzzle is solved to provide proof-of-work, the computer and algorithms processing the challenges don’t ever get any better at solving the problem. This means that quantum computers, despite being notoriously challenging to develop and expensive to build and maintain, would ultimately be capable of validating consensus more efficiently than state-of-the-art classical systems.
While there is still much research required until this concept can be implemented in the real world, the promise of quantum sampling for blockchain technology presents an exciting path forward for the future of blockchain. As quantum computing technology continues to advance, it will enable new solutions and applications across industries, with blockchain being just one of many examples.
Moreover, quantum computing is expected to have a substantial impact on the finance industry as it advances. This is because quantum computing can crack certain complex mathematical problems that underlie most financial systems, giving it huge implications and use cases in finance.
Hence, the collaboration between universities and quantum technology firms like BTQ can lead to further discoveries in the blockchain field and even beyond. The innovation from such partnerships is expected to accelerate the development of disruptive technologies based on quantum computing, leading to significant advancements in various industries and sectors.
In conclusion, the potential of quantum computing’s boson sampling to revolutionize blockchain consensus presents an exciting development with broad implications for the industry and beyond. While challenges remain in testing and implementing such a scheme practically, the promise of quantum computing is a path forward worth exploring. This collaboration further proves the potential of technological innovation as a way to create positive change in the world.