Sharing information across a large network like a blockchain can be a challenging task. Sending the same data to countless nodes across the network can use a considerable amount of processing power, making it take a long time and often limiting the value of the data once it reaches the final destination. Gossip protocols can solve this problem, allowing information to flow from node to node like information on social media.
A gossip protocol is a peer-to-peer communication protocol that is designed to allow information to flow through a large network, like a blockchain. Modeled after the way that information spreads on social media, data that is being transmitted using a gossip protocol doesn’t originate at a single node for every other node on the network.
Much like real-life gossip, a gossip protocol will first send out data to a random group of nodes. These nodes will then also transmit the data to another group of random nodes, which will continue until every node on the network is “infected” with the data. This makes it much easier to spread information across the large network without relying on a single node to do all of the heavy lifting.
As with any communication protocol, you can find a range of different types of gossip protocol. Each of these types is used for slightly different purposes, enabling those relying on gossip to tailor their approach to the data they are working with. There are three main types of gossip protocol used for blockchains.
Dissemination protocols are the roughest form of gossip protocol used for blockchains. While they are suitable for getting data out to as many nodes as possible in a short timeframe, data can easily be corrupted and changed along the way.
Anti-entropy protocols aim to reduce the changes to data as it travels between nodes by comparing it and modifying the data to ensure that it is accurate.
Aggregation protocols are similar to anti-entropy protocols, though they are built around the idea of sending each node a separate part of the data being transmitted, with the data then being shared between nodes to create a fuller picture.
When it comes to blockchain networks, gossip protocols are used for just about all of the transmitted information. A bitcoin transfer, for example, will be sent from node to node as soon as it occurs. You will be able to see the transaction if you search through the blockchain, but this is unlikely to have originated from the first node; it will have spread like gossip. This makes it possible for decentralized cryptocurrencies to exist without central server systems.
As you can see, gossip protocols are essential in the world of crypto. If you would like to learn more about this interesting field, websites like Unblocktalent can help you to gather the information you’re looking for.