Conceptual Flaws of Decentralized Automated Market Making

61 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2021 Last revised: 3 May 2023

See all articles by Andreas Park

Andreas Park

University of Toronto; University of Toronto - Finance Area

Date Written: May 1, 2023


Decentralized exchanges (DEXes) are an essential component of the nascent decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystem. The most common DEXes are so-called automated market makers (AMMs), smart contracts that pool liquidity and process trades as atomic swaps of tokens.
AMMs price transactions with a deterministic liquidity invariance rule that only uses the AMM's token deposits as inputs and that has no precedent in traditional finance. Yet in the context of transparent and open blockchain operations, any liquidity invariance pricing function allows so-called sandwich attacks (akin to front-running) that increase the cost of trading and threaten the long-term viability of the DeFi eco-system. Invariance pricing is also not regret-free. Linear pricing rules have similar problems, except for uniform pricing which has regret-free prices and limits sandwich attack profits, but which invites excessive order splitting. Comparing trading costs using a model of liquidity provision, constant product pricing is often cheaper except when the variance of the underlying asset is small or when the order is large.

Keywords: decentralized trading, swap exchanges, uniswap, blockchain, crypto-economics, automated market making

JEL Classification: G14, G19

Suggested Citation

Park, Andreas, Conceptual Flaws of Decentralized Automated Market Making (May 1, 2023). Available at SSRN: or

Andreas Park (Contact Author)

University of Toronto ( email )

105 St George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G8

University of Toronto - Finance Area ( email )

Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E6

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