Deconstructing Blockchains: A Comprehensive Survey on Consensus, Membership and Structure

08/22/2019 ∙ by Christopher Natoli, et al. ∙ 0

It is no exaggeration to say that since the introduction of Bitcoin, blockchains have become a disruptive technology that has shaken the world. However, the rising popularity of the paradigm has led to a flurry of proposals addressing variations and/or trying to solve problems stemming from the initial specification. This added considerable complexity to the current blockchain ecosystems, amplified by the absence of detail in many accompanying blockchain whitepapers. Through this paper, we set out to explain blockchains in a simple way, taming that complexity through the deconstruction of the blockchain into three simple, critical components common to all known systems: membership selection, consensus mechanism and structure. We propose an evaluation framework with insight into system models, desired properties and analysis criteria, using the decoupled components as criteria. We use this framework to provide clear and intuitive overviews of the design principles behind the analyzed systems and the properties achieved. We hope our effort will help clarifying the current state of blockchain proposals and provide directions to the analysis of future proposals.



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