Stochastic Models And Wide-Area Network Measurements For Blockchain Design And Analysis

Nikolaos Papadis Yale University, USA
Sem Borst Nokia Bell Labs & Eindhoven University of Technology, USA
Anwar Walid Nokia Bell Labs, USA
Mohamed Grissa Oregon State University, USA
Leandros Tassiulas Yale University, USA


The Blockchain paradigm provides a popular mechanism for establishing trust and consensus in distributed environments. While Blockchain technology is currently primarily deployed in crypto-currency systems like Bitcoin, the concept is also expected to emerge as a key component of the Internet-of-Things (IoT), enabling novel applications in digital health, smart energy, asset tracking and smart transportation. As Blockchain networks evolve to industrial deployments with large numbers of geographically distributed nodes, the block transfer and processing delays arise as a critical issue which may create greater potential for forks and vulnerability to adversarial attacks. Motivated by these issues, we develop stochastic network models to capture the Blockchain evolution and dynamics and analyze the impact of the block dissemination delay and hashing power of the member nodes on Blockchain performance in terms of the overall block generation rate and required computational power for launching a successful attack. The results provide useful insight in crucial design issues, e.g., how to adjust the 'difficulty-of-work' in the presence of delay so as to achieve a target block generation rate or appropriate level of immunity from adversarial attacks. We employ a combination of analytical calculations and simulation experiments to investigate both stationary and transient performance features, and demonstrate close agreement with measurements on a wide-area network testbed running the Ethereum protocol.

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