Tuesday, May 10, 2022

A "Blockchain Certificate of Deposit"

Front
Thanks to cryptocurrencies being decentralized they can eliminate the middleman, which leads to the fabulous offer from middleman Hex.com to revolutionize my finances that arrived unsolicited in my US mailbox last Wednesday.

How could I refuse to not just "earn up to 38% APY" but also receive "significant price appreciation" from the "fastest-appreciating digital asset in history"? It is a "blockchain Certificate of Deposit" and I know that Certificates of Deposit are issued by banks and are:
Back
a safer and more conservative investment than stocks and bonds, offering lower opportunity for growth, but with a non-volatile, guaranteed rate of return.
Middleman Hex.com says:
This common investment tool is used by hundreds of millions of people worldwide with a market value in the trillions.

HEX uses blockchain technology to offer the same concept without the middleman.
The top national guaranteed rate for a 5-year bank CD is currently 3.15%, so clearly eliminating the bank middleman who seems to be taking a 35% cut means a blockchain CD guaranteed by middleman Hex.com is a winner with no additional risk!

Below the fold I look this gift horse in the mouth.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Probabilistic Fault Tolerance

In our 2003 SOSP "Best Paper" Preserving Peer Replicas By Rate-Limited Sampled Voting (also here, expanded version here) we introduced a number of concepts. The most important was consensus based on sampling the electorate at random, in contrast to the traditional Byzantine Fault Tolerance (BFT), which at every step solicits votes from the entire electorate. The advantages of this mechanism are so significant that, a decade and a half later, it was re-discovered and improved upon in the context of a blockchain protocol. Below the fold I explain our original consensus system, and describe how the basic idea has been adopted and enhanced.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Fixed Supply, Variable Demand

BTC transaction fees
As I've been writing for a long time, because there is an auction for inclusion in the fixed supply of transactions, when no-one wants to transact they are cheap, but when everyone wants to transact they get very expensive. Vitalik Buterin is unhappy about this:
Buterin didn’t predict the rise of NFTs, and has watched the phenomenon with a mixture of interest and anxiety. ... their volume has overwhelmed the network, leading to a steep rise in congestion fees, in which, for instance, bidders trying to secure a rare NFT pay hundreds of dollars extra to make sure their transactions are expedited.
Last Saturday evening I looked at Molly White's invaluable timeline Web3 is going just great and saw that the top two entries summed up this problem to a tee. Below the fold, I explain

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Grayscale Bitcoin Trust

Amy Castor's Welcome to Grayscale’s Hotel California is a fascinating account of one of the Alice-in-Wonderland market ecosystems that grew from cryptocurrencies:
Grayscale wants to convert its Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) into a bitcoin ETF after flooding the market with shares. GBTC is trading 25% below its net asset value, and investors are rightfully pissed off. Grayscale wants them to be upset with the SEC, but the regulator isn’t really to blame. If anything, the SEC should have warned the public about GBTC years ago.
Below the fold, I provide some commentary:

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Meta: Fifteen Years Of Pontification

Fifteen years ago today I posted Mass-market scholarly communication to start this blog. Five years ago today I posted A decade of blogging, and a couple of months later noticed it had exceeded one million page views. Now, the blog has accumulated:
  • 812 posts, including my personal all-time favorite, 2014's Economies of Scale in Peer-to-Peer Networks.
  • 4038 published comments.
  • Over 3.4M page views, of which 367K (~11%) were of last February's short-notice EE380 Talk. Apart from that anomaly, it is an average of about 35K/month.

Monday, April 18, 2022

A Downside Of Privacy

Monero claims that:
Observers cannot decipher addresses trading monero, transaction amounts, address balances, or transaction histories.
This is all very well for individuals transacting with each other in the Monero ecosystem, but unless they are cryptojacking (mining using malware), miners need to pay bills for power and hardware in fiat currency. And miscreants using Monero to launder the loot need to convert Monero to fiat in order to buy the Lamborghini. So the Monero ecosystem needs exchanges, and thereby hangs a tale I pursue below the fold.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Ethereum Has Issues

I first wrote about the problem of bots front-running transactions a year and a half ago in The Order Flow, citing Dan Robinson and Georgios Konstantopoulos' Ethereum is a Dark Forest from August 2020 and samczsun's Escaping the Dark Forest. But I should have paid more attention. It turns out that front-running is the tip of an iceberg of fundamental problems that Ethereum and similar systems suffer. In replicating the functions of Wall Street they have replicated, and in some ways enhanced, its pathologies, Below the fold I survey these and related issues.