The First Blockchain or How to Time-Stamp a Digital Document

This post is about the work of Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta from 1991 on How to Time-Stamp a Digital Document and their followup paper Improving the Efficiency and Reliability of Digital Time-Stamping. In many ways, this work introduced the idea of a chain of hashes to create a total order of commitments to a dynamically growing set of documents. It’s no wonder these two papers are cited by... [Read More]

On the Optimality of Optimistic Responsiveness

Synchronous consensus protocols tolerating Byzantine failures depend on the maximum network delay $\Delta$ for their safety and progress. The delay, $\Delta$ is usually much larger than actual network delay $\delta$ since $\Delta$ is a pessimistic value. While synchronous protocols tolerating more than one-third will have executions with at least a $\Delta$ latency, recent synchronous protocols such as Sync HotStuff have been trying to reduce the reliance on $\Delta$ as much... [Read More]

Blockchain Selfish Mining

Proof of Work (PoW) Blockchains implement a form of State Machine Replication (SMR). Unlike classical SMR protocols, they are open, i.e., anyone can join the system, and the system incentivizes participants, called miners, to follow the protocol. Therefore, unlike classical SMR protocols, reasoning about blockchain security relies not only on bounding the number of malicious participants. One should crucially ask whether miners are indeed incentivized to follow the prescribed protocol.... [Read More]