According to the original IOTA post on bitcointalk, partition tolerance is not only defined as the ability for the IOTA transaction graph to resist the reversal of large sets of transactions, but also to allow it when needed by the network:

Partition intolerance

Blockchain-based currencies are unable to survive long-sustained partitioning of the network because this may lead to reversal of a large number of transactions. It is also impossible to initiate an intentional partitioning in cases when it is required.

(emphasis is mine).

These are presented as pros of the IOTA system. I.E. With IOTA it can survive a long-sustained partitioning and yet it is also possible to partition the network when required.


  1. When it is required to initiate an intentional partitioning of the Tangle?

  2. How can the Tangle be both resistant to partitioning* and also very much able to be partitioned if deemed necessary?

*By 'resistant to partitioning', I mean 'able to survive long-sustained partitioning of the network without the reversal of a large number of transactions'.


1 Answer 1


When is it required to initiate an intentional partitioning of the Tangle?

Offline Subtangles

If two parties are disconnected from the internet (no connection to main Tangle) temporarily and still want to send Iotas to each other, they could do that in an offline subtangle. Further explanation can be found here:

Economic Clustering

In the future, it would be overkill, if every node would process all transactions. If we have millions of transactions, it would even be physically difficult, probably impossible for every node to to process all transactions. These clusters would almost act like different cryptocurrencies, but they would follow they almost the same (or exactly the same) rules and could be merged or at least synchronized if needed.
This sounds like an inconvenient solution and I'm not denying that it is, but you can't argue with physics. And to be honest, the coffeemaker in China doesn't have to know that the drone in South Africa just got paid for delivering a package.

Since it's not necessary to do economic clustering now, everything about the topic is very experimental. Maybe we find a different solution to the problems that is not at all similar to my description. But this is how it could work.

Also: Article on EC by CFB

There are probably more reasons that no one thought of yet. Point is: Partition tolerance is a useful and necessary feature of the Tangle.

How is the Tangle able to survive long-sustained partitioning of the network without the reversal of a large number of transactions?



As long as the top and bottom transactions don't conflict e.g. try to spend the same funds twice, this is possible.



Since a block can only reference one previous one, even if there are no conflicting transactions at the top and bottom, the transactions can never be merged again and the top transactions have to be redone. This is a typical blockchain fork where the longest chain wins.

  • 1. Yes, it does. 2. Probably doesn't, if it would, one of them would switch cluster or the clusters would merge. Clusters don't have to be only geographical. There could be a global banking cluster, global Electric Vehicle Charging cluster, etc. Hence "economic cluster" and not "geographic cluster". I don't know anything about network-bound PoW.
    – Zauz
    Jul 9, 2018 at 22:18
  • Redefining IOTA? How so? It would not poll all the clusters constantly because that would recause exactly the problem we are trying to solve with EC. Maybe it would poll more than just one cluster though. As I said, this is completely experimental and nothing is set in stone. How it will be implemented is impossible to predict at this point in time. There is a lot of research to be done for this to work properly.
    – Zauz
    Jul 9, 2018 at 22:50

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