A Memo on the Proof-of-Stake Mechanism

06/14/2018
by   George Gui, et al.
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We analyze the economic incentives generated by the proof-of-stake mechanism discussed in the Ethereum Casper upgrade proposal. Compared with proof-of-work, proof-of-stake has a different cost structure for attackers. In Budish (2018), three equations characterize the limits of Bitcoin, which has a proof-of-work mechanism. We investigate their counterparts and evaluate the risk of double-spending attack and sabotage attack. We argue that PoS is safer than PoW agaisnt double-spending attack because of the tractability of attackers, which implies a large "stock" cost for the attacker. Compared to a PoW system whose mining equipments are repurposable, PoS is also safer against a sabotage attack.

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