The underlying consensus problem that drives blockchains has beeen well studied in cryptography and distributed systems litereature for the past four decades. Consensus protocols need to satisfy consisteny and liveness, but unfortunately, neither property enforces any guarantees on the actual ordering of transactions. This is discomforting for many modern blockchain applications, considering that the ordering is often easy to manipulate.
Manipulation of transaction ordering is especially problematic for decentralized finance applications - its impact reminiscent to that of the popularized high frequency trading arms race on Wall Street. In this talk, I will motivate a third consensus property, transaction order-fairness, to rectify the ordering problem. I will introduce a new class of consensus protocols that can acheive it in addition to the usual consistency and liveness properties. Finally, I will comment on how order-fairness has the potential to make decentralized finance more intrinsically fair, especially to ordinary users.
Mahimna Kelkar is a PhD student in Computer Science at Cornell University advised by Ari Juels. He is broadly interested in theoretical and applied cryptography with some emphasis on blockchains.
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