[Bitcoin-development] Decentralizing ming

Emin Gün Sirer el33th4x0r at gmail.com
Sat Jul 19 00:51:06 UTC 2014

I thought I'd chime in and point out some research results that might help.
Even if they don't, there is a cool underlying technique that some of you
might find interesting.

The problem being tackled here is very similar to "set reconciliation,"
peer A thinks that the set of transactions that should be in the block is
and peer B has actually included set S_B, and S_A and S_B are expected
to not differ much. Ideally, one would like the communication complexity
between A and B to be O(delta), not O(S_B) as it is right now. And ideally,
one would like B to send a single message to A, and for A to figure out the
difference between the two sets, without any lengthy back and forth
communication. In essence, I would like to give you some magical packet
that is pretty small and communicates just the delta between what you and
I know.

This paper from Cornell describes a scheme for achieving this:
   Yaron Minsky, Ari Trachtenberg, Richard Zippel: Set reconciliation with
nearly optimal communication complexity. IEEE Transactions on Information
Theory 49(9): 2213-2218 (2003)

Those of you looking for a TL;DR should read the intro and then skip to
page 8 for the example. The underlying trick is very cool, comes from the
peer-to-peer/gossip literature, and it is underused. It'd be really cool if
could be applied to this problem to reduce the size of the packets.

This approach has three benefits over the Bloom filter approach (if I
understand the Bloom filter idea correctly):

(1) Bloom filters require packets that are still O(S_A),

(2) Bloom filters are probabilistic, so require extra complications
when there is a hash collision. In the worst case, A might get confused
about which transaction B actually included, which would lead to a
fork. (I am not sure if I followed the Bloom filter idea fully -- this may
not happen with the proposal, but it's a possibility with a naive Bloom
filter implementation)

(3) Bloom filters are interactive, so when A detects that B has included
some transactions that A does not know about, it has to send a message
to figure out what those transactions are.

Set reconciliation is O(delta), non-probabilistic, and non-interactive. The
naive version requires that one have some idea of the size of the delta,
but I think the paper has some discussion of how to handle the delta

I have not gone through the full exercise of actually applying this trick to
the Bitcoin p2p protocol yet, but wanted to draw your attention to it.
If someone is interested in applying this stuff to Bitcoin, I'd be happy
to communicate further off list.

- egs

On Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 6:44 AM, Jeff Garzik <jgarzik at bitpay.com> wrote:

> Yes.  That, and several other things.  If you can figure out how to
> propagate a block without re-propagating all the transactions everyone
> already has, you address the large-blocks-slower-to-relay problem, and
> additionally create an incentive for miners to mine blocks consisting
> of publicly broadcast transactions (versus a bunch of secret ones
> mined with secret agreements).
> Democratizing transaction selection takes a bit of power away from the
> miners and gives it back to the network at large.  GBT is another
> piece of that puzzle.
> On Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 6:43 AM, Mike Hearn <mike at plan99.net> wrote:
> > Oops, sorry, I see the subject line changed. This is what I get for
> working
> > down the thread list top to bottom :)
> >
> > I think the best path forward now is to finish off getblocktemplate
> support
> > in the various tools so it's possible to pool for payout purposes without
> > giving up control of block creation modulo the coinbase. Combined with
> the
> > recent sipa performance enhancing goodness, it would hopefully persuade
> some
> > non-trivial chunk of hashpower to go back to running their own node and
> > start the process of turning pools merely into payout trackers rather
> than
> > block selectors.
> >
> >
> > On Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 12:41 PM, Mike Hearn <mike at plan99.net> wrote:
> >>
> >> Jeff, I think the message you're replying to got clipped.
> >>
> >> Satoshi's only comment AFAIK on the topic of GPU mining was to wish for
> a
> >> gentlemen's agreement to postpone it as long as possible, to help make
> sure
> >> the distribution of coins was as even as possible. Indeed this predated
> >> pooled mining.
> >>
> >
> --
> Jeff Garzik
> Bitcoin core developer and open source evangelist
> BitPay, Inc.      https://bitpay.com/
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