Paper 2024/200

A Better Proof-of-Work Fork Choice Rule

Karl Kreder, Dominant Strategies
Shreekara Shastry, Dominant Strategies
Apostolos Tzinas, Common Prefix, National Technical University of Athens
Sriram Vishwanath, Dominant Strategies, The University of Texas at Austin
Dionysis Zindros, Common Prefix, Stanford University

We propose a modification to the fork choice rule of proof-of-work blockchains. Instead of choosing the heaviest chain, we choose the chain with the most intrinsic work. The intrinsic work of a block is roughly the number of zeroes at the front of its hash. This modification allows us to safely decrease the confirmations required, yielding a $28.5\%$ improvement in confirmation delay or, dually, safely increase the block production rate, yielding a $16.3\%$ improvement in throughput, as compared to the vanilla Bitcoin proof-of-work fork choice rule. Our modification is at the level of the proof-of-work inequality, and thus can be composed with any other methods to improve latency or throughput that have been proposed in the literature. We report the experimental findings by measuring them on a production-grade implementation of our system, whose testnet is already deployed in the wild. Lastly, we formally prove the security of our new protocol in the Bitcoin Backbone model.

Available format(s)
Cryptographic protocols
Publication info
Contact author(s)
karl @ dominantstrategies io
shreekara @ dominantstrategies io
tzinas @ tzinas com
sriram @ utexas edu
dionyziz @ gmail com
2024-02-12: approved
2024-02-09: received
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      author = {Karl Kreder and Shreekara Shastry and Apostolos Tzinas and Sriram Vishwanath and Dionysis Zindros},
      title = {A Better Proof-of-Work Fork Choice Rule},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2024/200},
      year = {2024},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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