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Revisiting Difficulty Control for Blockchain Systems
Authors: Dmitry Meshkov, Alexander Chepurnoy, Marc JansenAbstract:
The Bitcoin whitepaper states that security of the system is guaranteed as long as honest miners control more than half of the current total computational power. The whitepaper assumes a static difficulty, thus it is equally hard to solve a cryptographic proof-of-work puzzle for any given moment of the system history. However, the real Bitcoin network is using an adaptive difficulty adjustment mechanism. In this paper we introduce and analyze a new kind of attack on a mining difficulty retargeting function used in Bitcoin. A malicious miner is increasing his mining profits from the attack, named coin-hopping attack, and, as a side effect, an average delay between blocks is increasing. We propose an alternative difficulty adjustment algorithm in order to reduce an incentive to perform coin-hopping, and also to improve stability of inter-block delays. Finally, we evaluate the presented approach and show that the novel algorithm performs better than the original algorithm of Bitcoin.
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