Proof of Stake is a proposed alternative to Proof of Work. Like proof of work, proof of stake attempts to provide consensus and doublespend prevention (see "main" bitcointalk thread, and a Bounty Thread). 


Because creating forks is costless when you aren't burning an external resource Proof of Stake alone is considered to an unworkable consensus mechanism.


It was probably first proposed here by a member named QuantumMechanic. With Proof of Work, the probability of mining a block depends on the work done by the miner (e.g. CPU/GPU cycles spent checking hashes). 


With Proof of Stake, the resource that's compared is the amount of Bitcoin a miner holds - someone holding 1% of the Bitcoin can mine 1% of the "Proof of Stake blocks".


Some argue that methods based on Proof of Work alone might lead to a low network security in a cryptocurrency with block incentives that decline over time (like bitcoin) due to Tragedy of the Commons, and Proof of Stake is one way of changing the miner's incentives in favor of higher network security.




Source: https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Proof_of_Stake 




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