Flash: Efficient Dynamic Routing for Offchain Networks

14 Feb 2019  ·  Peng Wang, Hong Xu, Xin Jin, Tao Wang ·

Offchain networks emerge as a promising solution to address the scalability challenge of blockchain. Participants directly make payments through a network of payment channels without the overhead of committing onchain transactions. Routing is critical to the performance of offchain networks. Existing solutions use either static routing with poor performance or dynamic routing with high overhead to obtain the dynamic channel balance information. In this paper, we propose Flash, a new dynamic routing solution that leverages the unique characteristics of transactions in offchain networks to strike a better tradeoff between path optimality and probing overhead. By studying the traces of real offchain networks, we find that the payment sizes are heavy-tailed, and most payments are highly recurrent. Flash thus differentiates the treatment of elephant payments from mice payments. It uses a modified max-flow algorithm for elephant payments to find paths with sufficient capacity, and strategically routes the payment across paths to minimize the transaction fees. Mice payments are directly sent by looking up a routing table with a few precomputed paths to reduce probing overhead. Testbed experiments and data-driven simulations show that Flash improves the success volume of payments by up to 2.3x compared to the state-of-the-art routing algorithm.

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