[bitcoin-dev] Small Nodes: A Better Alternative to Pruned Nodes

Aymeric Vitte vitteaymeric at gmail.com
Sun Apr 23 16:27:15 UTC 2017

"Absolutely, I assume if Vorick's proposal were implemented that nodes
would have the follow options: Pruned [UTXO + recent two weeks of
blocks], 20%, 40%, 60%, 80%, 100% (archive)."

Yes, and I think that they can have this in "disorder" (only 20% of
blocks in the middle of the blockchain for example)

There are many reasons why I dislike David's proposal as it is, you
mention some below, why 20%? too much? too small? what will happen
tomorrow? etc, I gave others, and this still does not explain why people
should go for more than two weeks of blocks

Maybe what I suggested here again
could be considered

This is just a suggestion based on incremental "torrents", fortunately
it comes from much more than days of work as you require below and is
the concatenation of thoughts from different projects/studies

It does follow your 8 rules (although I am not sure what you mean in
rule 2 "The decision to contact a node should need O(1) communications",
1 M limit works?) and proposes others, and it solves the issues
mentioned below, or please someone tell me why it does not (I know
people here dislike DHTs, not sure why)

Except fingerprinting (and I don't know what is the SPV issue exactly)
but still is better, if the nodes behave like the groups with most
numerous peers (ie the group seeding, 20%, or the one seeding 40%, or
the one seeding about nothing (sic... subliminal message here...), etc)
then they just can't be fingerprinted (at least based on this feature)

I think the main concepts are detailed enough but maybe that's not the
case, it's a really draft, if you look well the pruning case is
considered, but not explained, like some other points, because
continuing this work with no incentive solution for the seeders looks to
me useless

Le 21/04/2017 à 22:38, Gregory Maxwell via bitcoin-dev a écrit :
> On Mon, Apr 17, 2017 at 6:54 AM, David Vorick via bitcoin-dev
> <bitcoin-dev at lists.linuxfoundation.org> wrote:
>> Rationale:
>> A node that stores the full blockchain (I will use the term archival node)
>> requires over 100GB of disk space, which I believe is one of the most
>> significant barriers to more people running full nodes. And I believe the
>> ecosystem would benefit substantially if more users were running full nodes.
> Hi David,
> I've been thinking about this subject for a long time (Tier Nolan
> linked some of the threads; see also the coloration part of
> https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/User:Gmaxwell/block_network_coding) and
> about using FEC with the history for the last year or so. (we use FEC
> in practice in fibre for relay at the tip now, and that has a design
> history going back to 2013).
> As Jonas points out, we're all set to also offer the 'recent blocks'
> separately, so that is obviously going to happen and will help. The
> free design parameter is the definition of recent, but we have good
> measurements for setting that now. But about history...
> I think I might have designed myself into a corner and perhaps you've
> shown a way out-- I think there are some serious limits in your
> proposal but perhaps we can fix them.  Let me give you what I had been
> thinking about, then hand you at least a couple improvements to your
> thinking:
> As you hopefully now know (per Tier Nolan's) post: I'd previously been
> thinking about nodes keeping a deterministic random, independently
> selected subset which is self-leveling based on a small seed.   The
> connection overhead can can be mitigated by working with chunks of
> blocks rather than single blocks.
> But as you've observed, the failure probabilities are rather high,
> especially if an active attacker targets nodes carrying less commonly
> available blocks.  So I thought, okay we can use FEC to help improve
> the recovery odds.
> So I considered using a sparse random code (E.g. an LDPC erasure code
> like in RFC 5170) the advantage of these codes is that they are very
> fast to decode, and they support having enormous codewords, so you can
> a high probability of every peer having a unique ID, so there would
> effectively never need to be any duplication.
> But then I ran into the problem that I had no reasonable way to
> recover from bad data, short of pulling a single group from an archive
> then banning whatever peers gave you bad chunks.
> So that is kind of where I got stuck.
> I didn't even consider the advantage of only being able to use a few
> peers total, as I still assumed that it would be doing the random
> groups thing as well. That's a great point.
> So on your design:
> Being able to have a lower bound of 20% seems like a serious
> limitation to me: it would be fine today, but the chain will quite
> possibly be twice the current size in a year.... and in four years
> we're back to where we are now. What I'd been thinking would be able
> to scale arbitrarily low.
> 20% is small, but is it small enough? -- today that would get us back
> into common SSDs being able to hold the whole chain, but that property
> will probably be lost again in a couple years. I think with any fixed
> fraction we'll constantly be fighting against the opportunity cost of
> upgrading storage, if not the cost of the storage itself. (and I agree
> this is the vast majority of the response from actual users,  sync
> time and ongoing bandwidth usage seeming to tie for second; the latter
> of which can be mitigated in other ways but for the former see my
> remarks at the end)
> The fact that having only a few required blocks needed lets you brute
> force out the decode is a great point.  I hadn't considered that, and
> the schemed I'd been considering are not communications efficient with
> only a few blocks required e.g. they sometimes require a couple extra
> blocks to successfully decode, which is a lot of overhead if you're
> only splitting 5 ways.
>> I also believe that alternative erasure coding schemes exist which actually
>> are able to identify the bad pieces given sufficient good pieces, however I
>> don't know if they have the same computational performance as the best
>> Reed-Solomon coding implementations.
> Actually RS codes are _the_ codes you want to use for with decoding
> with errors but the 'computationally efficient' error correcting
> decoding (which is itself heinously slow) requires 2*errors + data
> number of blocks to decode. Not so useful if you're only looking at 5
> parts.
> RS decoding is pretty slow generally, esp compared to binary sparse
> codes.  We were unable to make RS coding make sense for use in fast
> block relay for this reason-- decoding time bottlenecked
> reconstruction. The most highly optimized RS codes make a special
> optimization which is not useful for your proposal: They're much
> faster to decode if you're decoding from the first couple correction
> blocks.  Without these optimizations speeds from from 1GB/s to more
> like 100MB/s or worse.  Though I suppose with assumevalid initial sync
> now is pretty cpu-idle on most hardware.  (If 100MB/s sounds fast,
> keep in mind that time spent decoding is time that can't be spent
> hashing/verifying/etc.. and on a lot hardware with fast broadband with
> signature validation enabled we're cpu bound already)
>> Another option would be to have the small nodes store a cryptographic
>> checksum of each piece. Obtaining the cryptographic checksum for all 256
>> pieces would incur a nontrivial amount of hashing (post segwit, as much as
>> 100MB of extra hashing per block), and would require an additional ~4kb of
>> storage per block. The hashing overhead here may be prohibitive.
> This was a complete non-starter when thinking about using these sparse
> codes where the number of possible blocks is effectively unlimited.
> Your 4kb assumption isn't correct though: How you do it is that after
> downloading a block you compute the 255 fragments (as an aside, you're
> saying 256 but the most you can get is 255 for an 8-bit RS code).
> then you compute a hashtree over them. Every node remembers the root,
> and the membership proofs for their chunk(s)... this is 256 bytes of
> extra storage.
> When you decode you use a majority to decide what root you are trying
> to decode. If it fails to result in valid blocks, you blacklist that
> root, ban all those peers, and try the next.  Worst case cost is the
> number of invalid roots rather than peers choose 5.
> I'm not sure if combinitoral decode or the above would be easier to implement.
>> This represents a non-trivial amount of code, but I believe that the result
>> would be a non-trivial increase in the percentage of users running full
>> nodes, and a healthier overall network.
> The RS coder stuff is small, even doing the fancy w/ error decodes it
> isn't huge. I expect complexity mostly will show up in the garbage
> input handling.
> A couple other thoughts:
> The coded blocks are not useful for things like bloom scanning or
> other lookup.  With the committed filter proposals you could still
> keep the committed filters (even 5 way shared themselves...) so
> perhaps not that much of a concern.
> Coding the blocks will make their encoding normative. The current P2P
> one we use is by no means more efficient,  Pieter and I have an
> encoding that works on a transaction by transaction basis and
> decreases the size of the whole chain by ~28%, block-wide entropy
> encoding could reduce the size even further.  We'd hoped to at least
> start using this per transaction coding locally, converting on the fly
> to the original serialization where needed (the idea would be to
> eventually support the compacted serialization on the wire too).
> Maybe the answer there is to just get in whatever improvements we
> think are reasonable before doing the coded block.
> I think the 20% floor is still too high, and too many nodes will be
> forced to just do the recent blocks things. perhaps not today, but
> eventually.   I suppose we could just assume that the block is split
> 10 ways, and the default is two indexes, but there is flexibility to
> go down to one in the future, at the cost of needing more peers...
> could run numbers on the decode failure odds for the 10 of 255 case...
> But that would only improve it to 10%.   I suppose the proposal could
> be combined with sparse chain storage like I was thinking years ago,
> but much less sparsity would be needed so the downsides would be less
> severe.
> E.g. if you want to store <10% of the chain you'd keep some 10% blocks
> for random groups.  such a feature could be introduced later when it
> was more important to keep less than 10 or 20 percent.
> Recovery odds could be improved with a second level of coding. E.g. if
> your ID was not a constant but a seed into PRNG(height)%250+5  then
> you also have a fraction of nodes store the xor between adjacent pairs
> then you can fill in unrecoverable groups.  the limit of this thinking
> is exactly the sparse random code ECC schemes) Probably not worth the
> complexity, but just a thing to keep in mind...
> Probably the next step is to do some more focused benchmarks. I have
> some code I can recommend offline.
> I can't help but feel that this might be a little bit of a waste of
> time. I think the long term survival of the system is likely going to
> ultimately depend on doing an assumevalid like gated sync of a UTXO
> set.  Ethereum already does something far more reckless (they let
> miners pick the state and blindly trust it with almost no depth
> required) and no one cares.  If that is done then all these concerns
> are greatly reduced, along with the 100(+++?)GB/history-year transfer
> costs.  You'd still want to have archives, but do you care about 20%
> archives?
> Replying to some other comments in the thread:
>> A user may not want to run a node at home, but rather on a digital ocean or AWS server
> This is almost if not quite entirely pointless. There are already many
> nodes on AWS and DO, adding more does not improve your security (you
> must trust DO/AWS), does not improve your reliability (DO/AWS), does
> not improve the network's capacity, etc.  About the only arguable
> benefit I can see there beyond making more money for these hosts is
> feel good points for (incorrectly) thinking you're helping the
> network, and negligibly reducing the density of spy nodes (but wait:
> AWS/DO may well just be spying on your connections too..). and it it
> isn't like fast storage on these services is cheap.
>> Perhaps it is not, but I would think that it would be pretty straightforward to configure a global bandwidth limit within Bitcoin.
> We have outbound transmission limits though not by default. Setting
> them sensibly is something of a black art. Obviously these will
> improve over time... and are more reasons that I agree with your
> relative cost assumptions except for the sync-time part.
>> Fingerprinting?
> Unavoidable, but should be made inconsequential by making transaction
> announcement more private independent of any of this. There are
> already _MANY_ ways to fingerprint nodes, please don't think that
> existing software has any real immunity here. We avoid adding new
> fingerprinting where we can... but they're very fingerprintable
> already. Transaction announcement privacy MUST be fixed.  I assume if
> any of this is worth doing, it will also be worth the increase in
> fingerprinting. And at least this proposal would 'only' create 255
> node classes.
>> SPV?
> As I pointed out above, Vorick's idea is totally compatible with
> committed filters, and the filters can even be shared like the blocks
> are.
>> [People who fail at math]
> The SNR on this list really sucks.  If you aren't spending a couple
> hours thinking about your responses or at least citing research that
> took days of effort or more then you are probably wasting people's
> time. Please respect the other users of the list.
>> Could there be a slider?
> Absolutely, I assume if Vorick's proposal were implemented that nodes
> would have the follow options: Pruned [UTXO + recent two weeks of
> blocks], 20%, 40%, 60%, 80%, 100% (archive).
> _______________________________________________
> bitcoin-dev mailing list
> bitcoin-dev at lists.linuxfoundation.org
> https://lists.linuxfoundation.org/mailman/listinfo/bitcoin-dev

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