Thursday, 14th of November 2019, 12:00 – 1:00

On the security and "decentrality" of federated Byzantine agreement (work in progress)

SR 2, ICT Building,
Technikerstraße 21a, 6020 Innsbruck

Martin Florian
Weizenbaum Institute, HU Berlin


Federated Byzantine Agreement Systems (FBAS) are a fascinating new paradigm in the context of consensus protocols. Originally proposed for powering the Stellar payment network, FBAS can be thought of as something in between typical permissionless systems (like Bitcoin) and permissioned approaches for solving consensus (like classical BFT protocols). Unlike Bitcoin and the like, "miners" can't remain anonymous but must be included into quorums by peers, ideally based on their actually perceived trustworthiness. Unlike permissioned protocols, there is no need for a system-wide agreement (or decree) about which set of nodes gets to participate in consensus. Instead, every peer is free to compose its own quorums, based on its own views about who to trust.

What kinds of global structures emerge from individual configurations? Are they secure? Are they "decentralized"?

In this ongoing project, we investigate the interplay between individual quorum configuration strategies (based on, e.g., generative models for inter-peer trust) and the properties of the resulting FBAS. In the talk, we'll discuss helpful abstractions and metrics, introduce our analysis and simulation tool written in Rust, and offer a few early insights about which strategies seem to work and which don't.


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