Must-watch: 500 Billion Reasons why IOTA

No, IOTA didn’t plagiarize anyone. Its approach is a novelty.

No, IOTA didn’t plagiarize anyone. Its approach is a novelty.

Since IOTA published its long-awaited information-update about the planned #coordicide, the usual suspects voiced allegations that IOTA didn’t really innovate anything.
If we’d listen to Eric Wall, Vitalik Buterin or to countless trolls on Twitter, IOTA really did nothing. Let’s look at why this couldn’t be further from the truth.
And take a closer look at the real innovation, almost everyone missed.

Here is a small overview of the most simple-minded assessments.
IOTA is, allegedly, a clone of or stealing from:

a) Ripple
b) Nano
c) Avalanche
d) Plain DpoS
e) NKN

Of course, it’s neither of those. At this point, it would be a good start to read the commentary of Marius Kramer, who is the #1 Cryptocurrency writer on Quora worldwide.

But first my own stance on those mentioned projects.
I believe the DLT’s above had their fair share of innovating the space, they deserve recognition and they are for sure one of the ambitioned approaches in the space, although I don’t agree with the permissioned approach of Ripple. There are use-cases for permissioned DLT’s which are run by enterprises, but they eliminate the thought of an open and free world, what Bitcoin was initially aiming for.

Anyway, let’s start with the non-content -> Nontent of the critics.

Nontent a) IOTA stole from Ripple.

I read these random comments on Twitter.
Those are the easiest ones to debunk.
The XRP consensus is a byzantine fault-tolerant agreement protocol which relies on a UNL, a unique node list. Which makes the whole system permissioned. Consensus is only found with trusted nodes in a list. This centralization is diametral to solving the scalability-trilemma that includes decentralization. All nodes know each other in the Ripple ledger (same as Stellar), unlike in IOTA where they only see the surrounding nodes.
IOTA will use Cellular Automaton in a decentralized matter, and a gossip protocol to delegate mana (an un-transferable reputation currency) to good actors while it punishes bad actors. A clear difference.
I explain the second approach by the IOTA Foundation in the next section.

Nontent b) IOTA stole from Nano.

Also on Reddit, people were postulating that IOTA would copy Nano, but in a worse way.
Nano uses delegated proof of stake voting variant called ORV (open representative voting). A BFT protocol. That doesn’t make it a clone, because having an engine in your car doesn’t make you steal ideas from other manufacturers. It’s only the basic approach. IOTA’s Cellular Automaton is an asynchronous voting process. Which differs from Nano’s ORV.
Since Nano uses a block-lattice structure, while IOTA relies on a DAG, the underlying structure is completely different and thus, the consensus.
As mentioned above, IOTA uses Mana and the Cellular Automaton.
Nodes in the Tangle won’t need to know every other node, while nodes in Nano have to rely on representatives. Representatives (ie 20 nodes in the ledger) lead to further centralization, while the shimmer solution only relies on the surrounding, local nodes around a node. A huge difference.
Another point is that IOTA has 2 different approaches in the pipeline.
The other one is the Fast Probabilistic Consensus, described here.
It splits the voting process into different rounds. A difference to Nano is that it doesn’t need to take care of a 51% threshold against majority attacks. With this second approach, even the worst possible strategy leads to healthy voting and guaranteed consensus.
To cite the IOTA foundation: “This voting process has the crucial property of converging very quickly, even in scenarios where malicious nodes are voting according to the worst possible strategy.

Nontent c) IOTA cloned the Avalanche consensus

I could compare the approaches, but I would miss the precise remarks by the IOTA developers on this topic.
Please click on the provided links and read the thread as to why Avalanche was not cloned by IOTA. The similarities are there, but that’s mostly because Avalanche used a DAG structure, which leads to similar solutions. It’s interesting that Avalanche didn’t mention IOTA in their whitepaper, but complained about IOTA recently.

Please click on the date and read Hans Moog’s answers.

To summarize: IOTA cited a publication from 2001: Paper. and there are still distinct differences.

Update: Prof. Sergui Popov reacts to the allegations.

Nontent d) IOTA uses Plain DPos (delegated proof of stake)

Again, it would be pointless to describe what was already explained in a very detailed manner. In this case by Mat Yarger of the IOTA foundation.

Please click on the date and read Mat Yarger’s remarks.

To summarize: IOTA’s mana gossip module works differently than plain DpoS, as it’s rather an additional header-value giving evolutional advantages. Saying Mana is DpoS is like saying Porsche is like an Opel, just because both use engines.

Nontent e) IOTA plagiarized NKN

This interpretation is factually wrong because IOTA didn’t even know about NKN.
Hans Moog replied respectfully.

Hans Moogs response to NKN

In addition, he promised to add it to the whitepaper and explained differences.

To summarize and to cite /u/theartofsaul on Reddit:
“Shimmer is based around very old research papers, just like NKN is.”

“The voter model originates in these two papers: “
1) P. Clifford, A. Sudbury, A model for spatial conflict. Biometrika 60 (1973), 581–588.
2) R.A. Holley, T.M. Liggett (1975) Ergodic theorems for weakly interacting infinite systems and the voter model. Ann. Probab.3(4),643–663.


IOTA evolutionized existing techniques and created a beautiful solution for the Scalability Trilemma.
Of course, some parts of the solution are based on similar approaches, but in Cryptoland it’s all about taking old approaches and improve them, to find the end-goal of scalability, security, and decentralization.
That’s exactly what IOTA did.
And just as a reminder: When Satoshi wrote his whitepaper, he cited scientists that created solutions for him, such as Adam Becks Hashcash – Proof of work approach.

IOTA’s is a novelty which combines all that is needed right now, or to say it in Marius Kramer’s words:

[…]very impressive. This is what DLT should look like, this is the essence of the blockchain. Elegant, swift, scalable, secure. It’s so simple and kind of overdue that we finally have a simple and fast consensus algorithm.

Of course, the implementation is not here, yet, and attack-vectors need to be tested thoroughly, but it’s more than a misconception that IOTA tried to plagiarize another project.

The real innovation is that IOTA improved existing methods and embedded them in a modular system that supposedly works way better than anything before it.

Interesting time ahead, don’t believe everything you read.

Share this article:

2 Replies to “No, IOTA didn’t plagiarize anyone. Its approach is a novelty.”

  1. once again: thank you so much. you are such a great asset to iota, thank you for your never-ending work. i guess i can speak for the whole iota-community here: so glad that youre part of it! Cheers from Switzerland

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *