[Resource Topic] 2023/1164: Swiper and Dora: efficient solutions to weighted distributed problems

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Swiper and Dora: efficient solutions to weighted distributed problems

Authors: Luciano Freitas, Andrei Tonkikh


The majority of fault-tolerant distributed algorithms are designed assuming a nominal corruption model, in which at most a fraction f_n of parties can be corrupted by the adversary. However, due to the infamous Sybil attack, nominal models are not sufficient to express the trust assumptions in open (i.e., permissionless) settings. Instead, permissionless systems typically operate in a weighted model, where each participant is associated with a weight and the adversary can corrupt a set of parties holding at most a fraction f_w of total weight.

In this paper, we suggest a simple way to transform a large class of protocols designed for the nominal model into the weighted model. To this end, we formalize and solve three novel optimization problems, which we collectively call the weight reduction problems, that allow us to map large real weights into small integer weights while preserving the properties necessary for the correctness of the protocols. In all cases, we manage to keep the sum of the integer weights to be at most linear in the number of parties, resulting in extremely efficient protocols for the weighted model. Moreover, we demonstrate that, on weight distributions that emerge in practice, the sum of the integer weights tends to be far from the theoretical worst-case and, often even smaller than the number of participants.

While, for some protocols, our transformation requires an arbitrarily small reduction in resilience (i.e., f_w = f_n - \epsilon), surprisingly, for many important problems we manage to obtain weighted solutions with the same resilience (f_w = f_n) as nominal ones.
Notable examples include asynchronous consensus, verifiable secret sharing, erasure-coded distributed storage and broadcast protocols.
While there are ad-hoc weighted solutions to some of these problems, the protocols yielded by our transformations enjoy all the benefits of nominal solutions, including simplicity, efficiency, and a wider range of possible cryptographic assumptions.

ePrint: https://eprint.iacr.org/2023/1164

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