[bitcoin-dev] If you had a single chance to double the transactions/second Bitcoin allows...

Sergio Demian Lerner sergio.d.lerner at gmail.com
Mon Aug 10 22:11:10 UTC 2015

On Mon, Aug 10, 2015 at 6:01 PM, Pieter Wuille <pieter.wuille at gmail.com>

> On Aug 7, 2015 11:19 PM, "Sergio Demian Lerner via bitcoin-dev" <
> bitcoin-dev at lists.linuxfoundation.org> wrote:
> > b. Reduce the block rate to a half (average 5 minute blocks)
> >
> > Suppose this is a one time hard fork. There no drastic technical
> problems with any of them: "SPV" mining and the relay network has shown
> that block propagation is not an issue for such as small change. Mining
> centralization won't radically change for a 2x adjustment.
> I don't understand this. All problems that result from propagation delay
> are literally doubled by doing so. Centralization pressure results from the
> ratio between propagation time and interblock time. Efficient propagation
> algorithms like the relay network make this presumably grow sublinear with
> larger blocks, but changing the interblock time affects it exactly
> proportionally.
What I'm saying is that this ratio may have improved 20x since miners began
using the TheBlueMatt relay network, so deteriorating the ratio 2x does not
put miners in a unknown future, but in an future which is far better than
the state they were a year ago.

But SPV mining has improved the ratio another 2x (because headers can be
pushed even faster, fit in a single network packet, and can do without
inv/getdata round-trips because they basically "pay" for the bandwidth
usage by its own proof of work).
With a better wire protocol you can "propagate" a 10 MB block faster that
the time it takes currently to propagate an empty block.
So 10x deterioration of the ratio would be still something acceptable.

All problems that result from propagation delay are literally doubled by
> doing this. Doubling the block size has a smaller effect. You may argue
> that these centralization effects are small, but reducing the interblock
> time has a stronger effect on them than the block size.
> Also, you seem to consider SPV mining a good thing?
I'm not saying it's a good thing. I'm saying that it's impossible to avoid.
It's a real incentive. It must exists so Bitcoin is incentive compatible.
We can talk for hours and hours and we won't prevent miners from doing it.
I predicted it back in 2013, without even being a miner myself. It's here
to stay. Forever. It's a pity Greg chose that awful name of "SPV" mining
instead some cool name like "Instant" mining that we could market as
Bitcoin latest feature :)

Do you consider the TheBlueMatt relay network a "good thing". NO! It's a
very bad centralization thing, but it is unavoidable. I would like the
relay network to be embedded on the standard network protocol, using local
route optimizations to reduce latency for block propagation (there is one
old paper on this, and it says that with local prioritization you can have
a lower bound to get a propagation latency of at most two times the optimal
value (possibly generated by the minimum spanning tree)).

It requires trust between miners that know eachother, and fundamentally
> breaks the security assumption of SPV clients...
No is does not. The incentive follows directly from the cheating cost (the
subsidy). Even if I don't know you, I know you wouldn't waste 25 BTC to try
to cheat me for 25 BTC with a probability of 1/100, that's for sure. On
average, you loose 24.75 BTC per cheat attempt.

"SPV" mining is safe as long as it is done for a certain bounded period of
time and bounded number of blocks (e.g: 30 seconds from that last validated
block, and no more than 1 non-validated block). SPV clients that accept a
transaction with 1 confirmation are already in danger of orphaning, and
long invalid "SPV" mining chain forks (as occurred last month) should never
had occurred if limits were in-place.

SPV mining incentive will stay until there is no subsidy, as many other
incentives. SPV mining also must be there to prevent malicious actors from
DoS-ing the relay network. If it's there, then the DoS incentive disappears.

Let's code "instant" mining into Bitcoin Core, and do it right.

Also as Michael Rudy points out, higher block rate means lower variance,
and that's good for miners. Last, as I already said, having a lower average
block interval strengthens Bitcoin value proposition, so miners would be
delighted that their bitcoins are more worthy.
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