A Game-Theoretic Analysis of Shard-Based Permissionless Blockchains

Mohammad Hossein Manshaei, Murtuza Jadliwala, Anindya Maiti, Mahdi Fooladgar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations

Abstract

Low transaction throughput and poor scalability are significant issues in public blockchain consensus protocols, such as Bitcoins. Recent research efforts in this direction have proposed shard-based consensus protocols where the key idea is to split the transactions among multiple committees (or shards), which then process these shards or set of transactions in parallel. Such a parallel processing of disjoint sets of transactions or shards by multiple committees significantly improves the overall scalability and transaction throughout of the system. However, one significant research gap is a lack of understanding of the strategic behavior of rational processors within committees in such shard-based consensus protocols. Such an understanding is critical for designing appropriate incentives that will foster cooperation within committees and prevent free-riding. In this paper, we address this research gap by analyzing the behavior of processors using a game-theoretic model, where each processor aims at maximizing its reward at a minimum cost of participating in the protocol. We first analyze the Nash equilibria in an N-player static game model of the sharding protocol. We show that depending on the reward sharing approach employed, processors can potentially increase their payoff by unilaterally behaving in a defective fashion, thus resulting in a social dilemma. In order to overcome this social dilemma, we propose a novel incentive-compatible reward sharing mechanism to promote cooperation among processors. Our numerical results show that achieving a majority of cooperating processors (required to ensure a healthy state of the blockchain network) is easier to achieve with the proposed incentive-compatible reward sharing mechanism than with other reward sharing mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8558531
Pages (from-to)78100-78112
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Access
Volume6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • and incentive design
  • blockchain
  • cooperation
  • game theory
  • Sharding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)

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