Gridcoin advertises itself as a "a mandatory competitive reward mechanism based on contributing the most towards BOINC projects on top of existing cryptocurrency technology."

Is there a reason why Bitcoin couldn't use Gridcoin's proof of work system, either to secure the system, or to distribute coins? What consequences would switching to their system have?

Related: What sort of calculations do the miners have your computer do?


4 Answers 4


Such a switch will never happen. There are three main reasons for this.

  1. It would require the worst kind of hard fork, one where a lot of legacy code would have to remain in the coin, for the sake of validating transactions before the hard fork date.

  2. While the reward system itself has been specifically designed to not be game-able (https://github.com/TheCharlatan/Gridcoin-Research/tree/master/contrib/BoincMonteCarlo), it is nevertheless destroyable by a malicious actor with reasonable funding, since it relies on a centralized service to distribute its data.

  3. There is little to no research towards the specific crypto algorithms used to secure user information in the chain, such as https://github.com/TheCharlatan/Gridcoin-Research/blob/CPID-style/src/cpid.h . In fact the CPID (which is used to identify researchers) is an md-5 hash of some string and the user email, so it definitely does not compare to Bitcoin's standard of security.


From what I can gather from their wiki: http://wiki.gridcoin.us/Proof-of-Research, Gridcoin is just a proof of stake coin with a centralized "proof of research" tacked on. The work required for "proof of research" is completely unrelated to the transaction ledger, so you can't use it to secure the transaction ledger.

  • What about distributing the initial supply of Bitcoins by who had the most "proof of research?"
    – Nick ODell
    May 6, 2015 at 23:07
  • 1
    @NickODell because it's centralized and because it can be gamed. Bitcoin coin distribution is not about charity, it's about incentivizing people to do the hard work of securing the network. At some point someone pays for that work (the person buying bitcoins or the miners holding on to them). Adding more random work on top of that (without any benefit to the bitcoin network) still needs to be paid for (raise the price for newcomers) or (more likely) will cause people not to do the work at all because the cost is too high (lowering the network security). Energy and equipment don't come for free
    – Jannes
    May 7, 2015 at 11:00

EDIT: I'm posting this in response to kaykurokawa since I don't have sufficient reputation to comment directly.

POST: This isn't correct. There is a lot of confusion about how Gridcoin's Proof-of-Research system works.

Gridcoin has two types of block awards - PoS, and PoR. PoS works as traditionally expected but it is used as a backup mechanism. The primary block reward mechanism is proof-of-research, and your chance to solve a PoR block and the amount of GRC you receive are dependent on your relative contribution to the BOINC network.

Note that the solution to the PoR block uses traditional hashing mechanisms (PoW) as far as I'm aware, but if your contribution to BOINC isn't high enough relative to the rest of the Gridcoin network participants, 1) you will not be awarded a block and 2) the Gridcoin client is smart enough not to waste CPU cycles trying and instead frees those cycles for BOINC (or whatever else you want to do with them).

If for some reason the BOINC network goes down or people totally stop researching, PoS is there merely to ensure that transactions will continue to be processed.


To more directly answer the original question, Gridcoin is built on a significantly modified Litecoin codebase, so from a programming perspective it's not exactly a cut-and-paste thing.

Theoretically, Bitcoin could be altered to use any other reward mechanism dreamed up and accepted by the community, but in practice Bitcoin is so established and people have made such significant investments into hardware and infrastructure that I think there would be insurmountable resistance to changing the way that block rewards are distributed.

In terms of consequences, the primary positive consequence is that the freed-up CPU cycles currently being used by Bitcoin for simple PoW hashing could be spent on more useful things like BOINC. On the negative side, there is some concern about Gridcoin's dependency on a second outside network (the various BOINC projects and statistics collections and so on) which could be an issue for people who believe that it negatively impacts Gridcoin's decentralization as compared to Bitcoin, which has no such external dependencies.

Note that Gridcoin seems to have plans in the works for allowing direct in-network distributed computing which could mediate that in the future, but I'm not sure how far along it is.

DISCLAIMER: I'm not a Gridcoin dev, just someone who really believes that it's a much better use of electricity than Bitcoin, much as I love Bitcoin.:)


Gridcoin is driven by only one buggy developer. It seems not to be truly decentralized cryptocurrency now.

Several of buggy releases and several of blockchain snapshots are published in last few weeks.

Developer is just asking people to remove his coin on Poloniex just because they do not compile his new released code fast enough. (He did not even care about security reviews of his code).

Developer is also trying to move some coin from foundation wallet to his friend.

I do not think Gridcoin is a secure currency to invest now.

  • "Developer is just asking people to remove his coin on Poloniex just because they do not compile his new released code fast enough. (He did not even care about security reviews of his code)." The developer asked Poloniex to keep the coin listed, and pay for any losses incurred during the hard fork. We are 100% with poloniex and never asked such a thing. This troll is out to destroy gridcoin.
    – user27617
    Jul 25, 2015 at 4:39
  • What do you mean by "buggy developer?" Do they write software for dune buggies in their free time? ;)
    – Nick ODell
    Jul 25, 2015 at 17:16

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