Paper 2019/1281

Partially-Fair Computation from Timed-Release Encryption and Oblivious Transfer

Geoffroy Couteau, Bill Roscoe, and Peter Ryan


We describe a new protocol to achieve two party $\epsilon$-fair exchange: at any point in the unfolding of the protocol the difference in the probabilities of the parties having acquired the desired term is bounded by a value $\epsilon$ that can be made as small as necessary. Our construction uses oblivious transfer and sidesteps previous impossibility results by using a timed-release encryption, that releases its contents only after some lower bounded time. We show that our protocol can be easily generalized to an $\epsilon$-fair two-party protocol for all functionalities. To our knowledge, this is the first protocol to truly achieve $\epsilon$-fairness for all functionalities. All previous constructions achieving some form of fairness for all functionalities (without relying on a trusted third party) had a strong limitation: the fairness guarantee was only guaranteed to hold if the honest parties are at least as powerful as the corrupted parties and invest a similar amount of resources in the protocol, an assumption which is often not realistic. Our construction does not have this limitation: our protocol provides a clear upper bound on the running time of all parties, and partial fairness holds even if the corrupted parties have much more time or computational power than the honest parties. Interestingly, this shows that a minimal use of timed-release encryption suffices to circumvent an impossibility result of Katz and Gordon regarding $\epsilon$-fair computation for all functionalities, without having to make the (unrealistic) assumption that the honest parties are as computationally powerful as the corrupted parties - this assumption was previously believed to be unavoidable in order to overcome this impossibility result. We present detailed security proofs of the new construction, which are non-trivial and form the core technical contribution of this work.

Available format(s)
Cryptographic protocols
Publication info
Preprint. MINOR revision.
Fair exchangepartial fairnesstimed-release encryption
Contact author(s)
couteau @ irif fr
awroscoe @ gmail com
peter ryan @ uni lu
2019-11-05: revised
2019-11-05: received
See all versions
Short URL
Creative Commons Attribution


      author = {Geoffroy Couteau and Bill Roscoe and Peter Ryan},
      title = {Partially-Fair Computation from Timed-Release Encryption and Oblivious Transfer},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2019/1281},
      year = {2019},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
Note: In order to protect the privacy of readers, does not use cookies or embedded third party content.