A consensus mechanism, or consensus algorithm, is the system used by blockchain network participants (validator nodes) to come to agreement on what information will be permanently stored in the blockchain. The consensus mechanism defines how participants verify transactions, in order to achieve distributed (group) consensus on the validity of the data stored in the blockchain.
As most blockchains are managed by a decentralized network of computers, rather than by a central authority, all computers in the network must have a single method by which to determine agreement on the validity of the data recorded in the blockchain. That group consensus mechanism is generally defined by the protocol (the predefined set of rules governing the blockchain).
The consensus mechanism tells the whole system how to comply with protocol rules in order to determine the validity of transactions and blocks and secure the blockchain from fraudulent attacks. Common consensus mechanisms include proof of work and proof of stake.
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