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Calling itself the “lightest” (in terms of bytes) blockchain in the world, the Mina Protocol wants to take advantage of that nimbleness to build a bridge between crypto and the real world.
Mina's blockchain, sometimes called "the succinct chain," stands in sharp contrast to the heavyweight Bitcoin network, which has ballooned in size over the past decade.
As of October 2021, Bitcoin’s sprawling digital ledger comprised more than 360 billion bytes, or 360 gigabytes (GBs); all of that data has to be toted along by each peer/node, a heavy lift. Blocks (transaction data) on the chain, is, by design, constrained to being no larger than one megabyte. This limits the number of transactions that the Bitcoin network is capable of processing per second. It’s a problem, inhibiting the network’s ability to scale. And this problem has led to endless debates as well as some forks (and forks of forks).
Mina's blockchain, on the other hand, has remained at merely 22,000 bytes, or 22 kilobytes, its founders insist. That's roughly about the same amount of data as it takes to send out a few tweets, they say. Thus, this lightweight network has positioned itself as capable of allowing participants to quickly transact from devices like smart phones.
MINA tokens, native to the Mina blockchain, are used to facilitate transactions/secure the network via staking/proof of stake (PoS) consensus. The tokens are also used on Mina’s "Snarketplace." Here is where things get rather wonky. This peculiar-sounding term,, as you might expect, refers to a kind of marketplace whereby nodes exchange their network abetting services (producing blocks, verifying them) for a fee.
Block producers exchange MINA tokens for SNARK proofs from SNARK workers. The key to this activity is a cryptography technique, "zk-SNARKS."
It stands for “zero-knowledge succinct non-interactive arguments of knowledge.” It’s a computer privacy concept – data affirmed though not actually revealed – developed by MIT professor and Algorand founder Silvio Micali.
The concept of a tiny, portable blockchain was created by O(1) Labs, a company founded in San Francisco in 2017 by Evan Shapiro and Izaak Meckler.
Shapiro had worked as a software engineer for Mozilla, having obtained his research MS from Carnegie Mellon.
Meckler developed software for a Wall Street trading firm, Jane Street.
After four years of trial and error, the O(1) Labs team launched the Mina mainnet on March 23, 2021.
The Mina Foundation was created as a non-profit that supports, according to Shapiro, a fully decentralized ecosystem of decentralized applications (dApps) “empowering users with control over their own data privacy.”
Relying on a diet of “recursive proofs” (i.e. those zk-SNARKS), as opposed to sophisticated hardware, Mina's chain purportedly never gains weight. The proofs are small and easy to verify. They don't require any back-and-forth communication between participants in a validation process,.
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