Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2018/992

Deconstructing the Blockchain to Approach Physical Limits

Vivek Bagaria and Sreeram Kannan and David Tse and Giulia Fanti and Pramod Viswanath

Abstract: Transaction throughput, confirmation latency and confirmation reliability are fundamental performance measures of any blockchain system in addition to its security. In a decentralized setting, these measures are limited by two underlying physical network attributes: communication capacity and speed-of-light propagation delay. Existing systems operate far away from these physical limits. In this work we introduce Prism, a new proof-of-work blockchain protocol, which can achieve 1) security against up to 50% adversarial hashing power; 2) optimal throughput up to the capacity C of the network; 3) confirmation latency for honest transactions proportional to the propagation delay D, with confirmation error probability exponentially small in the bandwidth-delay product CD ; 4) eventual total ordering of all transactions. Our approach to the design of this protocol is based on deconstructing the blockchain into its basic functionalities and systematically scaling up these functionalities to approach their physical limits.

Category / Keywords: applications / Blockchains, physical limits, deconstruction, throughput, latency, security

Date: received 15 Oct 2018, last revised 9 Nov 2018

Contact author: dntse at stanford edu

Available format(s): PDF | BibTeX Citation

Note: The proofs in the appendices have been completely rewritten and restructured to improve readability. Some results have been strengthened.

Version: 20181110:020647 (All versions of this report)

Short URL: ia.cr/2018/992


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