Such a problem was first mentioned as a “problem of two generals” in 1975 by three scholars, EA Akkoyunlu, K. Ekanadham, and RV Huber. In 1982, the same problem was described again in a paper published by three U.S. scholars, L. Lamport, R. Shostak, and M. Pease, under the slightly different name “The Problem of the Byzantine Generals.” The name of the problem is this because its nature can be explained by the following metaphor:
There is a good Middle Ages and southern Europe is dominated by the forces of the Byzantine Empire. The entire army is divided into units, and each unit is commanded by its own general. The only way to convey information is by messengers. By besieging the city of Rome, it is necessary for the various forces to reach a consensus as soon as possible on whether to attack or withdraw. If one general thinks that now is a good time to attack, he must send messengers to the generals of the other units. Some messengers have to swim across the river, some run through the city of Rome. There is always a great danger that something will happen to the messenger. Although they are caught in the city of Rome, some are threatened and manipulated, some get the same knife, they drown and find cases where the messenger himself turns out to be a traitor and passes on to the opponent. In addition, the generals themselves are also a weak point. If even the right message finally reaches the right general, there is always a danger that the general himself will be a traitor. In this way, it is very difficult to achieve the credibility of the messages and a common understanding across the military.
The definition of the problem is how to ensure consensus between all parties in such a situation and the credibility of the messages. In other words, how to eliminate the possibility of corruption from the system, ie the possibility of betrayal and deception. And even if the number of parties in the system changes.
Many problems have been addressed and attempted to be solved in computer science as well as in the design of various distributed systems in general. Researchers around the world thought the problem was unsolvable – until 2008, when Satoshi Nakamoto published the first paper on how Bitcoin works. It was immediately conceived that this might be the solution. Today, 6 years later, when Bitcoin has been in operation for 5 years, we can say with great certainty that Bitcoin, with its block chain, is still the best solution to the problem of Byzantine generals.
Reading the document published by Satoshi, we see at the outset that he actually described an alternative monetary system. It is possible that he did not know that he would accidentally solve this problem, which is much more important for mankind.
That’s why Bitcoin is both a product and a whole platform for building new applications.
That’s why Bitcoin is at least as powerful an invention as the Internet itself.
That is why Bitcoin is so important that by solving the problem of Byzantine generals, it will solve many, very important problems for humanity in the future.