Exploring the Concept of Directed Acyclic Graphs (DAGs)

Trading Made Easy 2023-09-14 01:16:45

As you delve deeper into the realm of cryptocurrencies, you'll encounter an ever-expanding lexicon of terms and concepts. The landscape of decentralization continues to evolve, introducing innovative solutions that promise enhanced speed and efficiency, all while grappling with persistent challenges like sluggish transaction speeds, high fees, and limited scalability. In the pursuit of broader cryptocurrency adoption, the quest for the ideal architecture, or a fusion of various architectural approaches, has become increasingly paramount.


Blockchain, distributed ledger technology (DLT), and directed acyclic graphs (DAGs) represent three distinct architectural paradigms that have been tested with various tokens, each playing a pivotal role in the decentralization narrative. In this article, our focus will be squarely on DAGs and their profound significance within the realm of cryptocurrencies.

Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG)

In the quest to address the cost and scalability challenges that have beset Ethereum, certain tokens have earned the moniker "Ethereum killers" due to their innovative solutions. Similarly, directed acyclic graph (DAG), a decentralized conceptual framework, has been dubbed the "Blockchain Killer" for its potential to revolutionize the crypto landscape.


DAG is an architectural framework characterized by circles and lines. Each circle, or vertex, represents an activity that requires incorporation into the network, while the lines, or edges, signify the sequential order in which transactions gain approval. These edges have a unidirectional orientation, hence the term "directional." Crucially, in DAGs, there are no pathways leading back to a particular vertex, rendering these mathematical structures "acyclic" due to the absence of loops.


Unlike blockchain, where new transactions are appended to existing blocks and require mining, DAG obviates the need for mining, resulting in minimal transaction fees and environmental impact. DAG's inherent design facilitates simultaneous validation of multiple transactions, substantially enhancing scalability.


DAG Architecture

DAG architecture expands through the addition of vertices and edges to its database. Vertices represent transactions, while edges indicate the flow direction. Transactions are not consolidated into blocks; rather, each transaction builds upon the preceding one in a chain-like structure.


To prevent spamming, a modest proof of work (PoW) is still mandated in DAG's distinctive architecture. As previously mentioned, new transactions must reference prior transactions to be incorporated into a node, thereby creating a chain of transactions.


DAG Technology

DAG constitutes a distributed and decentralized system applicable within distributed ledger technology. It employs a distinct data storage method compared to other distributed ledger technologies. Its deployment aims to enhance speed, security, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness while offering a greener alternative to blockchain by consuming less energy.

Applications of DAG

DAGs offer a solution to process transactions without the delays associated with block-based systems. Users can submit unlimited transactions but must verify old blocks before progressing to new ones. Moreover, DAGs are energy-efficient since they do not rely on miners like blockchain technology, resulting in significantly lower energy consumption.


DAGs play a pivotal role in handling micropayments, as they eschew the need for miners and associated processing fees, which do not escalate with network congestion.



Consider the process of adding a new transaction within a DAG architecture. Before your transaction is approved, it must reference the transaction preceding it, akin to Bitcoin transaction confirmations but distributed across multiple transactions. If another user builds upon your previously unconfirmed transaction, it becomes confirmed, contingent on someone else building upon their transaction, perpetuating this cycle.


An algorithm selects which transaction to build upon based on criteria such as accumulated weight or the number of preceding confirmations. Unlike blockchain's mechanism for avoiding double-spending, DAG scrutinizes each new confirmation back to the sender's initial transaction, verifying the sender's balance suffices for the intended transaction.

Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT)

Distributed ledger technology encompasses digital data storage characterized by the following features:

  1. Distributed: Data within a distributed ledger is not centralized, unlike conventional banks or corporations. Every participant on the network possesses a copy of the ledger, granting visibility into all additions and alterations. While some systems, like Corda, employ different data storage methods, the core principle of distribution remains intact.
  2. Immutability: Data stored in a distributed ledger cannot be altered or manipulated. DLT employs cryptographic measures to secure its data.
  3. Append-Only: DLT permits the addition of data but prohibits modification. This design ensures a comprehensive transaction history, fostering trust.
  4. Shared: Within a distributed ledger, no single entity claims exclusive ownership of the contained data, as it is shared across nodes. While some nodes maintain complete data copies, others access only the information essential to them. This shared aspect fosters efficiency and security.


Blockchain represents a decentralized public ledger. Transactions conducted on the blockchain are stored as data blocks processed through cryptographic techniques. This form of distributed ledger technology guarantees the immutability of transactions, as each transaction holds a cryptographic signature, commonly referred to as a hash.


Blockchain eliminates the need for third-party intermediaries by providing every user access to the entire transaction history. It functions as an immutable string of verified data blocks and those awaiting verification. Verified blocks are appended to a chronological list of prior validated blocks.

DAG vs. Blockchain

While both blockchain and DAG store data within a distributed ledger, they employ fundamentally different approaches. Let's highlight key distinctions between these two technologies:

  1. Blockchain: Blockchain comprises an immutable sequence of verified data blocks and pending transactions. Verified blocks are consistently added in chronological order. In contrast, DAG features individually verified transactions branching from prior ones, akin to a tree with stems, branches, and leaves.
  2. Consensus Mechanism: Blockchain relies on the validation of transactions within blocks to achieve consensus. Proof of work (PoW) is one method for establishing this consensus, wherein miners solve complex mathematical puzzles to validate and add blocks, earning rewards for their efforts. DAG, conversely, combines the roles of users as both miners and validators. Users must validate two additional transactions besides their own for consideration by others, eliminating the need for fees.


DAG in Cryptocurrency

Notable projects like IOTA and Nano have harnessed DAG technology for their systems. IOTA, focused on the "internet of things," employs nodes and tangles (clusters of nodes) to verify transactions. Every user on IOTA must validate two transactions before their own gains approval. Nano, on the other hand, combines DAG and blockchain technologies for a unique approach. Transactions are transmitted and authenticated through nodes, and every Nano user possesses an exclusive blockchain. Transactions necessitate validation from both sender and receiver on this blockchain, facilitating rapid, fee-free transactions.


The universe of decentralization transcends blockchain technology. While the surface has been scratched regarding technologies such as DLT and DAG, the potential for innovative advancements appears boundless. Exciting possibilities lie ahead, promising to shape the future of cryptocurrency and decentralized systems.

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