Measuring Decentralization in Bitcoin and Ethereum using Multiple Metrics and Granularities

01/26/2021
by   Qinwei Lin, et al.
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Decentralization has been widely acknowledged as a core virtue of blockchains. However, in the past, there have been few measurement studies on measuring and comparing the actual level of decentralization between existing blockchains using multiple metrics and granularities. This paper presents a new comparison study of the degree of decentralization in Bitcoin and Ethereum, the two most prominent blockchains, with various decentralization metrics and different granularities within the time dimension. Specifically, we measure the degree of decentralization in the two blockchains during 2019 by computing the distribution of mining power with three metrics (Gini coefficient, Shannon entropy, and Nakamoto coefficient) as well as three granularities (days, weeks, and months). Our measurement results with different metrics and granularities reveal the same trend that, compared with each other, the degree of decentralization in Bitcoin is higher, while the degree of decentralization in Ethereum is more stable. To obtain the cross-interval information missed in the fixed window based measurements, we propose the sliding window based measurement approach. The corresponding results demonstrate that the use of sliding windows could reveal additional cross-interval information overlooked by the fixed window based measurements, thus enhancing the effectiveness of measuring decentralization in terms of continuous trends and abnormal situations. We believe that the methodologies and findings in this paper can facilitate future studies of decentralization in blockchains.

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