[Resource Topic] 2022/1376: Modeling Effective Lifespan of Payment Channels

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Modeling Effective Lifespan of Payment Channels

Authors: Soheil Zibakhsh Shabgahi, Seyed Mahdi Hosseini, Seyed Pooya Shariatpanahi, Behnam Bahrak


While being decentralized, secure, and reliable, Bitcoin and many other blockchain-based cryptocurrencies suffer from scalability issues. One of the promising proposals to address this problem is off-chain payment channels. Since, not all nodes are connected directly to each other, they can use a payment network to route their payments. Each node allocates a balance that is frozen during the channel’s lifespan. Spending and receiving transactions will shift the balance to one side of the channel. A channel becomes unbalanced when there is not sufficient balance in one direction. In this case, we say the effective lifespan of the channel has ended.
In this paper, we develop a mathematical model to predict the expected effective lifespan of a channel based on the network’s topology. We investigate the impact of channel unbalancing on the payment network and individual channels. We also discuss the effect of certain characteristics of payment channels on their lifespan. Our case study on a snapshot of the Lightning Network shows how the effective lifespan is distributed, and how it is correlated with other network characteristics. Our results show that central unbalanced channels have a drastic effect on the network performance.

ePrint: https://eprint.iacr.org/2022/1376

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