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Echoes of the Past: Recovering Blockchain Metrics from Merged Mining

  • Nicholas StifterEmail author
  • Philipp Schindler
  • Aljosha Judmayer
  • Alexei Zamyatin
  • Andreas Kern
  • Edgar Weippl
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11598)

Abstract

So far, the topic of merged mining has mainly been considered in a security context, covering issues such as mining power centralization or cross-chain attack scenarios. In this work we show that key information for determining blockchain metrics such as the fork rate can be recovered through data extracted from merge mined cryptocurrencies. Specifically, we reconstruct a long-ranging view of forks and stale blocks in Bitcoin from its merge mined child chains, and compare our results to previous findings that were derived from live measurements. Thereby, we show that live monitoring alone is not sufficient to capture a large majority of these events, as we are able to identify a non-negligible portion of stale blocks that were previously unaccounted for. Their authenticity is ensured by cryptographic evidence regarding both, their position in the respective blockchain, as well as the Proof-of-Work difficulty.

Furthermore, by applying this new technique to Litecoin and its child cryptocurrencies, we are able to provide the first extensive view and lower bound on the stale block and fork rate in the Litecoin network. Finally, we outline that a recovery of other important metrics and blockchain characteristics through merged mining may also be possible.

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank Georg Merzdovnik as well as the participants of Dagstuhl Seminar 18152 “Blockchains, Smart Contracts and Future Applications” for valuable discussions and insights. We thank Christian Decker, Roger Wattenhofer, Till Neudecker, Blockchain.com and chainz.cryptoid.info for the live monitoring data they kindly provided. This research was funded by Bridge Early Stage 846573 A2Bit, Bridge 1 858561 SESC, Bridge 1 864738 PR4DLT (all FFG), the Christian Doppler Laboratory for Security and Quality Improvement in the Production System Lifecycle (CDL-SQI), Institute of Information Systems Engineering, TU Wien, Blockchain.com and the competence center SBA-K1 funded by COMET. The financial support by the Christian Doppler Research Association, the Austrian Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs and the National Foundation for Research, Technology and Development is gratefully acknowledged.

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Copyright information

© International Financial Cryptography Association 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas Stifter
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Philipp Schindler
    • 1
  • Aljosha Judmayer
    • 1
  • Alexei Zamyatin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Andreas Kern
    • 1
  • Edgar Weippl
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.SBA ResearchViennaAustria
  2. 2.Imperial College LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.Christian Doppler Laboratory for Security and Quality Improvement in the Production System Lifecycle (CDL-SQI), Institute of Information Systems EngineeringTU WienViennaAustria

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