# We might walk together, but I run faster: Network Fairness and Scalability in Blockchains

8 Feb 2021  ·  Anurag Jain, Shoeb Siddiqui, Sujit Gujar ·

Blockchain-based Distributed Ledgers (DLs) promise to transform the existing financial system by making it truly democratic. In the past decade, blockchain technology has seen many novel applications ranging from the banking industry to real estate. However, in order to be adopted universally, blockchain systems must be scalable to support a high volume of transactions. As we increase the throughput of the DL system, the underlying peer-to-peer network might face multiple levels of challenges to keep up with the requirements. Due to varying network capacities, the slower nodes would be at a relative disadvantage compared to the faster ones, which could negatively impact their revenue. In order to quantify their relative advantage or disadvantage, we introduce two measures of network fairness, $p_f$, the probability of frontrunning and $\alpha_f$, the publishing fairness. We show that as we scale the blockchain, both these measures deteriorate, implying that the slower nodes face a disadvantage at higher throughputs. It results in the faster nodes getting more than their fair share of the reward while the slower nodes (slow in terms of network quality) get less. Thus, fairness and scalability in blockchain systems do not go hand in hand. In a setting with rational miners, lack of fairness causes miners to deviate from the "longest chain rule" or undercut, which would reduce the blockchain's resilience against byzantine adversaries. Hence, fairness is not only a desirable property for a blockchain system but also essential for the security of the blockchain and any scalable blockchain protocol proposed must ensure fairness.

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Distributed, Parallel, and Cluster Computing Networking and Internet Architecture

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