SSurely you have heard or read about X11, a mining algorithm very particular and not just by name. The truth is that the design of this algorithm is completely different from the known algorithms of other blockchains. And it is that unlike SHA-256 (the algorithm of Bitcoin) or Scrypt, X11 is not a single hash function mining algorithm. Instead, X11 collects a total of 11 hash functions distinct that are used in a specific order to result in the final hash of a block.
Complicated, don't you think? To a certain extent yes, but it is still a technical and cryptographic genius that offers much greater guarantees and security. But what was the origin of X11? How does it work? And what blockchain and cryptocurrency projects use it? Well, all this you will know below.
Origin of the X11 algorithm
The origin of X11 dates back to March 2014 when the developer Evan Duffield, presented his cryptocurrency project DarkCoin, currently known as Dash. In his whitepaper, Duffield made it clear that his project sought to overcome some of the flaws he considers within Bitcoin, in particular, its lack of scalability, better privacy, native anonymity, and resistance to ASIC to avoid the centralization of mining.
The presentation of this project caught the attention of the crypto community, especially due to its ability to offer anonymity and of course, its striking mining algorithm. And it is that the structuring of this algorithm was something new and never seen. For that reason, many in the community set out to study its possibilities. As a result, a whole new development arises, among which algorithms such as X13 y X17, algorithms that follow the same operating scheme, but using more hash functions to do their job.
Understanding how X11 works
Now how does a mining algorithm like X11 work? The truth is that algorithmically it is not complex. First of all, let's know what hash functions X11 uses:
- BLUE MIDNIGHT WISH (BMW)
- Keccak (An algorithm whose variant gave rise to SHA-3)
These algorithms are applied in this same order within X11, and the goal is for a miner to start generating a Block ID or Block Hash, starting with the first hash and ending with the last hash. Basically what it does is generate a first hash using BLAKE, taking into account the difficulty of the mining system and the target. Once this hash is generated and the work of Proof of Work (PoW) heavier, this new hash is taken and the rest of the hash functions are applied to it so that said hash changes. So every time we apply a new hash function, a different hash is generated and this hash is taken and the following function is applied to it, until the cycle ends.
An interesting point about these functions is that they were all created with the highest possible level of security in mind. In fact, all these functions were analyzed by the NIST (US National Institute of Standards and Technology) validating their security. With this we can be sure that X11 is an algorithm built on safe and proven technology.
Despite the use of various hash functions within its structure, X11 has been the victim of some striking security issues. In 2014, a small security problem with the handling of nonce within the system that affected Dash. The Dash community handled this problem quickly and managed to fix it, demonstrating the potential for audits by the community itself.
Another possible problem is related to the possibility that a hash function that makes up X11 can be attacked to the point that its hashes are not safe. However, due to the hash cascade X11 performs (passing the hash through various additional functions) this has no negative effect.