Paper 2024/622

Deep Selfish Proposing in Longest-Chain Proof-of-Stake Protocols

Roozbeh Sarenche, KU Leuven
Svetla Nikova, KU Leuven
Bart Preneel, KU Leuven

It has been shown that the selfish mining attack enables a miner to achieve an unfair relative revenue, posing a threat to the progress of longest-chain blockchains. Although selfish mining is a well-studied attack in the context of Proof-of-Work blockchains, its impact on the longest-chain Proof-of-Stake (LC-PoS) protocols needs yet to be addressed. This paper involves both theoretical and implementation-based approaches to analyze the selfish proposing attack in the LC-PoS protocols. We discuss how factors such as the nothing-at-stake phenomenon and the proposer predictability in PoS protocols can make the selfish proposing attack in LC-PoS protocols more destructive compared to selfish mining in PoW. In the first part of the paper, we use combinatorial tools to theoretically assess the selfish proposer’s block ratio in simplistic LC-PoS environments and under simplified network connection. However, these theoretical tools or classical MDP-based approaches cannot be applied to analyze the selfish proposing attack in real-world and more complicated LC-PoS environments. To overcome this issue, in the second part of the paper, we employ deep reinforcement learning techniques to find the near-optimal strategy of selfish proposing in more sophisticated protocols. The tool implemented in the paper can help us analyze the selfish proposing attack across diverse blockchain protocols with different reward mechanisms, predictability levels, and network conditions.

Available format(s)
Attacks and cryptanalysis
Publication info
BlockchainProof-of-StakeSelfish MiningDeep Q-learning
Contact author(s)
roozbeh sarenche @ esat kuleuven be
svetla nikova @ esat kuleuven be
bart preneel @ esat kuleuven be
2024-04-26: approved
2024-04-22: received
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Creative Commons Attribution


      author = {Roozbeh Sarenche and Svetla Nikova and Bart Preneel},
      title = {Deep Selfish Proposing in Longest-Chain Proof-of-Stake Protocols},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2024/622},
      year = {2024},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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