Scaling Blockchains: Can Elected Committees Help?

49 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2021 Last revised: 6 Dec 2021

See all articles by Alon Benhaim

Alon Benhaim

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Mathematics

Brett Hemenway Falk

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Computer and Information Science

Gerry Tsoukalas

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School; Boston University; Luohan Academy

Date Written: October 7, 2021

Abstract

In the high-stakes race to develop more scalable blockchains, some platforms (Cosmos, EOS, TRON, etc.) have adopted committee-based consensus protocols, whereby the blockchain's record-keeping rights are entrusted to a committee of elected block producers. In theory, the smaller the committee, the faster the blockchain can reach consensus and the more it can scale. What's less clear, is whether this mechanism ensures that honest committees can be consistently elected, given voters typically have limited information. Using EOS' Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS) protocol as a backdrop, we show that identifying the optimal voting strategy is complex and practically out of reach. We empirically characterize some simpler (suboptimal) voting strategies that token holders resort to in practice and show that these nonetheless converge to optimality, exponentially quickly. This yields efficiency gains over other PoS protocols that rely on randomized block producer selection. Our results suggest that (elected) committee-based consensus, as implemented in DPoS, can be robust and efficient, despite its complexity.

Keywords: Approval Voting, Blockchain Consensus Protocols, Blockchain Economics, Token Voting, Committee-Based Consensus, Delegated Proof of Stake, DPoS, Stake-Weighted Voting

JEL Classification: G14, D82, C11, O32, O14

Suggested Citation

Benhaim, Alon and Hemenway Falk, Brett and Tsoukalas, Gerry, Scaling Blockchains: Can Elected Committees Help? (October 7, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3914471 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3914471

Alon Benhaim

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Mathematics ( email )

209 S 33rd St
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Brett Hemenway Falk

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Computer and Information Science ( email )

3330 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Gerry Tsoukalas (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )

3641 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6365
United States

Boston University ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

Luohan Academy ( email )

No. 556, Xixi Road, Z Space
Xihu District
Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310013
China

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