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Block Producers

The role of a block producer in Mina is to achieve consensus and provide security to the blockchain. The block producer is responsible for creating new blocks that include recent transactions broadcast on the network and a blockchain proof that proves the current state of the chain is valid.

In Mina, anyone can become a block producer. There is an unbounded number of participants with the chance of producing a block proportional to the funds staked. Funds are not locked and are not subject to slashing.

In return for staking funds and generating the required blockchain proofs, blocks that are produced and included in the canonical chain are rewarded in the form of a coinbase and transaction fees, less any fees paid to purchase required transaction SNARK work.

To successfully produce a block, a block producer must have the current state of the blockchain. A block producer must have enough available compute to produce a blockchain SNARK within the slot time and be connected to peers to broadcast the generated block within an acceptable delay as defined by the network consensus parameters.

Select a block producer

The opportunity to produce a block for a slot is determined by a verifiable random function (VRF). Think of this function as a lottery. Each block producer independently runs this VRF for each slot and if the output is greater than a threshold proportional to the producer's stake, they have the chance to produce a block at the designated slot.

This process is secret so that only the private key holder can determine the VRF output and only they know when they are to produce a block. This selection process aids security as it is impossible for an adversary to target a known block producer at a certain slot, e.g., by a denial of service or targeted attack. As a result, multiple producers can be selected for the same slot. When multiple producers produce a valid block for the same slot, ta short-range fork is produced where the consensus rules select the longest chain.

The stake distribution is determined from the SNARKed ledger at the last block of current epoch-2, so there is a delay for any recently acquired or delegated stake. For example, if the current epoch is 10, the staking distribution is determined from the SNARKed ledger of the last block of the 8th epoch.

To view the output of the VRF in the logs, look for Checking VRF evaluations.

Generating a block

When a block producer is selected to produce a block for a slot, they perform the following actions:

  • Choose the current best tip from their transition frontier (local store of blocks) on which to build the new block.

  • Select transactions and any SNARK work required from the transaction and SNARK pools.

    A block producer must purchase SNARK work at least in equal quantity to the transactions they add to a block. In addition to any user transactions, a block producer must also add a coinbase transaction as a reward for producing the block and any fee transfers to pay the SNARK workers.

  • Generate the proposed next state of the blockchain.

    • Create a diff of the staged ledger that includes the account ledger and scan state (a queue of transactions yet to have proofs).
    • Apply this diff to the existing staged ledger to produce the new state.
  • Create a blockchain proof to prove that the new state is valid.

    This SNARK additionally validates the prior protocol state proof.

  • Create a delta transition chain proof that proves the validity of the block if it is received within an acceptable network delay as defined by the network consensus parameters.

  • Apply this newly generated state locally and add it into the existing transition frontier.

  • Broadcast the block (call an external transition) to its peers.

Stake delegation

Delegated funds are not spendable and can be undelegated at any time by re-delegating the stake back to the original account.