[bitcoin-dev] Hard fork proposal from last week's meeting

Jared Lee Richardson jaredr26 at gmail.com
Thu Mar 30 16:44:21 UTC 2017

> The block size itself should be set based on the amount of fees being
paid to miners to make a block.

There's a formula to this as well, though going from that to a blocksize
number will be very difficult.  Miner fees need to be sufficient to
maintain economic protection against attackers.  There is no reason that
miner fees need to be any higher than "sufficient."  I believe that
"sufficient" value can be estimated by considering a potential attacker
seeking to profit from short-selling Bitcoin after causing a panic crash.
If they can earn more profit from shorting Bitcoin than it costs to buy,
build/deploy, and perform a 51% attack to shut down the network, then we
are clearly vulnerable.  The equation for the profit side of the equation
can be worked out as:

(bitcoin_price * num_coins_shortable * panic_price_drop_percentage)

The equation for the cost side of the equation depends on the total amount
of miner hardware that the network is sustainably paying to operate,
factoring in all costs of the entire bitcoin mining lifecycle(HW cost,
deployment cost, maintenance cost, electricity, amortized facilities cost,
business overheads, orphan losses, etc) except chip design, which the
attacker may be able to take advantage of for free.  For convenience I'm
simplifying that complicated cost down to a single number I'm calling
"hardware_lifespan" although the concept is slightly more involved than

(total_miner_payouts * bitcoin_price * hardware_lifespan)

Bitcoin_price is on boths ides of the equation and so can be divided out,

Unsafe point = (num_coins_shortable * panic_price_drop_percentage) <
* hardware_lifespan)

Estimating the total number of shortable coins an attacker of nearly
unlimited funds is tricky, especially when things like high leverage levels
or naked short selling may be offered by exchanges.  The percent of damage
the resulting panic would cause is also tricky to estimate, but on both
numbers we can make some rough guesses and see how they play out.  With
more conservative numbers like say, 2 year hardware lifespan, 10% short,
70% panic drop you get: 1,300k coins profit, 1800 BTC/day in fees minimum
needed to make the attack cost more than it profits.

Using various inputs and erring on the side of caution, I get a minimum
BTC/day fee range of 500-2000.  Unfortunately if the blocksize isn't
increased, a relatively small number of transactions/users have to bear the
full cost of the minimum fees, over time increasing the minimum "safe"
average fee paid to 0.008 BTC, 30x the fees people are complaining about
today, and increasing in real-world terms as price increases.  All that
said, I believe the costs for node operation are the number that gets hit
first as blocksizes are increased, at least past 2020.  I don't think
blocksizes could be increased to such a size that the insufficient-fee
vulnerability would be a bigger concern than high node operational costs.
The main thing I don't have a good grasp on at the moment is any math to
estimate how many nodes we need to protect against the attacks that can
come from having few nodes, or even a clear understanding of what those
attacks are.

> A block so big that 100% of the transactions will always be mined in the
> next block will just cause a large section of people to no longer feel the
> need to pay fees.

This is also totally true.  A system that tried to eliminate the fee
markets would be flawed, and fortunately miners have significant reasons to
oppose such a system.

The reverse is also a problem - If miners as a large group sought to lower
blocksizes to force fee markets higher, that could be a problem.  I don't
have solutions for the issue at this time, but something I've turned over
in my mind.

On Thu, Mar 30, 2017 at 3:30 AM, Tom Zander via bitcoin-dev <
bitcoin-dev at lists.linuxfoundation.org> wrote:

> On Thursday, 30 March 2017 07:23:31 CEST Ryan J Martin via bitcoin-dev
> wrote:
> >      The original post and the assorted limit proposals---lead me to
> > something I think is worth reiterating: assuming Bitcoin adoption
> > continues to grow at similar or accelerating rates, then eventually the
> > mempool is going to be filled with thousands of txs at all times whether
> > block limits are 1MB or 16MB
> This is hopefully true. :)
> There is an unbounded amount of demand for block space, and as such it
> doesn’t benefit anyone if the amount of free transactions get out of hand.
> Because freeloaders would definitely be able to completely suffocate
> Bitcoin.
> In the mail posted by OP he makes clear that this is a proposal for a hard
> fork to change the block size *limit*. The actual block size would not be
> changed at the same time, it will continue being set based on market values
> or whatever we decide between now and then.
> The block size itself should be set based on the amount of fees being paid
> to miners to make a block.
> What we want is a true fee-market where the miner can decide to make a
> block
> smaller to get people to pay more fees, because if we were to go to 16MB
> blocks in one go, the cost of the miner would go up, but his reward based
> on
> fees will go down!
> A block so big that 100% of the transactions will always be mined in the
> next block will just cause a large section of people to no longer feel the
> need to pay fees.
> As such I don’t fear the situation where the block size limit goes up a lot
> in one go, because it is not in anyone’s interest to make the actual block
> size follow.
> --
> Tom Zander
> Blog: https://zander.github.io
> Vlog: https://vimeo.com/channels/tomscryptochannel
> _______________________________________________
> bitcoin-dev mailing list
> bitcoin-dev at lists.linuxfoundation.org
> https://lists.linuxfoundation.org/mailman/listinfo/bitcoin-dev
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