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Re: Elapsed-Time-Scaled Block Size


It is a cool idea.

On Tue, Nov 21, 2017 at 12:23 PM Philbert Wallace <
philbertwallace4@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> Hi Tomas,
> I agree with Dustin that we don't want to have to trust the miners at the
> individual level (ie: choosing timestamps) too much, but part of what these
> protocols do is create mechanisms where we can (hopefully) trust them in
> the aggregate. That being said, it's an interesting thought that you had
> and I've been thinking about something similar. There is a (I hope)
> particularly compelling argument presented at the end that I think lends at
> least some merit to the concept. So, let's work through it a little:
> To be on the safe side, it would probably need to be based not so much on
> the time_from_last_block, but more on a median timestamp of the last N
> blocks but N would need to be less than the number of blocks in a
> difficulty adjustment period (so this whole thing would happen totally
> within the normal difficulty cycle and not affect the difficulty calcs),
> but we'll just call it time_from_last_block for now. If I understand you
> correctly, we're basically saying that if hash power cut in half all of a
> sudden, then as soon as the protocol/nodes realized it, the allowable
> blocksize would be doubled. And if that same hashpower returned, then as
> soon as the protocol realized it, the allowable max size would be halved.
> The mechanism would need to be symmetric (more time_from_last_block -->
> larger max_blocksize, and less time_from_last_block --> smaller max
> blocksize) as otherwise you run the risk of growing the total size of the
> chain in an unpredictable fashion.
> One of the positive side effects (and I'm sure there are some negative
> ones too) is that whenever a large chunk of hashpower unexpectedly leaves,
> this mechanism which basically targets a "constant maximum transactional
> throughput rate" would disproportionately reward those miners that stick
> around and slog through the glut of hashpower, and proportionally punish
> all miners (including those that stuck around) when they return. As an
> example: in the recent BTC / BCH situation, where hashpower left and BTC's
> blocktimes became slower than normal, there was one pool, Slush's pool,
> that seemed to stick around BTC regardless. The mechanism we're discussing
> here would have allowed Slush to mine larger blocks (and thereby earn more
> fees for itself) during the time that the hashpower was absent.
> Another interesting feature (bug?) of a mechanism like this is that it
> would actually have punished all miners for temporarily defecting because,
> since Slush was able to grow the allowable blocksize while they were gone,
> then when they returned the max blocksize would shrink down to less than it
> was before they left. Those miners returning to BTC would be causing the
> time-between-blocks to be increasing, and therefore, under this proposed
> mechanism, the max blocksize would be decreasing. Perhaps such a punitive
> arrangement would have removed/lessened the incentive that any of those
> miners had to temporarily leave in the first place? While that may be
> desirable, its hard to know without further analysis whether this mechanism
> would lessen the propensity for defection.
> Now for the reason I do like the mechanism, presuming it could be
> implemented safely. If we follow this logic all the way down and imagine a
> situation where there is catastrophic loss of hashing power (governments
> shut down all known large-scale mining operations), I think it's pretty
> much assumed that a PoW network would do a hard-fork difficulty adjustment
> (or in the worst case change PoW algorithms all together) in an effort to
> broaden the number of people/nodes that can carry to torch forward. Let's
> assume the network would try a difficulty adjustment first and try to coax
> the current non-mining nodes into becoming miners in order to "save the
> chain." With a mechanism like we're discussing here in place, the desired
> effect of the hard-fork difficulty adjustment (namely to open mining up to
> a larger group of nodes) I think might happen more naturally and with less
> downtime/chaos (and at-minimum without a hard fork). This is because the
> more time that passes, the more the mempool would grow, and the large the
> acceptable max block size. In the extreme case, where only 1% of the
> original hashpower remained, then, sure, even though your node would still
> need to meet the difficulty requirement, the temptation to build a block
> that is 100x bigger than normal (and earn all those fees!) so as to keep
> the network's max throughput on track at a constant could become large
> enough that literally most (previously non-mining) nodes that didn't have a
> shot when compared to the "big guys" would begin mining. Similarly the big
> guys would be in a mad scramble to get back online and nab mining that
> giant goldmine of a large block!
> Lastly, the big winner here would be (hopefully): users. This is because
> while the miners contemplated in the above are playing games the honest
> miners were able to hold down the fort and make sure that the max
> transactional throughput rate stayed steady.
> While I'm not certain this is the outcome/mechanism we want for grin's
> network (especially since grin is very focused on keeping things simple
> right now), it at least is an interesting direction to consider.
> P.S. I'm also not certain that this mechanism doesn't pervert miner
> incentives such that they actively try to reduce each other's network
> connectivity. Then again that perversion exists in bitcoin as-is anyway,
> and so far it seems to be ok.
> P.P.S. Can this mechanism be gamed by large miners who collude to "cycle"
> large amounts of hash power offline, let the max blocksize grow, then come
> back online to grab the larger block? Perhaps, but since they would only be
> getting one block subsidy for the block (the larger reward would be due to
> fees), it seems they would be better off by not doing so and instead just
> staying online as much as possible (which is what we want in the first
> place!).
> On Tue, Nov 21, 2017 at 1:00 AM, Dustin Dettmer <dustinpaystaxes@xxxxxxxxx
> > wrote:
>> I wouldn't put so much trust in miners timestamps. I'm much more of a fan
>> of building systems where we don't have to trust them.
>> On Tue, Nov 21, 2017 at 12:53 AM Tomas Juočepis <tomasjuocepis@xxxxxxxxx>
>> wrote:
>>> Hello, grinners,
>>> what if block size limit of each newly found block would be linearly
>>> proportional to time elapsed since last block? Stated another way, nodes
>>> would consider a new block valid only if timestamp delta (new block
>>> timestamp - last block timestamp) multiplied by some parameter of size/time
>>> ratio is greater than the size of the new block. It seems that something
>>> like this could produce a more constant transaction throughput in cases of
>>> quickly varying applied pow rate ("hash rate") without affecting difficulty
>>> adjustment.
>>> For example, consider the following block timestamp deltas (in minutes):
>>> 10, 20, 30, 3, 5, 7, 5, 5, 5, 10 (total 100, average 10 (nominal))
>>> With block sizes being constant, we get 10 blocks worth of size.
>>> With block sizes linearly proportional to time delta, with slope
>>> coefficient set so that nominal (target) time produces nominal block size,
>>> we'd get same cumulative size (and therefore same cumulative consumed
>>> network bandwidth), but transaction rate would be more even/consistent.
>>> Let's say we can fit 1000 txs in a block designed to be mined every 10
>>> minutes. With the previous example, with constant size we'd have the
>>> following:
>>> t=10, 1000 txs confirmed
>>> t=30, 2000 txs confirmed
>>> t=60, 3000 txs confirmed
>>> t=63, 4000
>>> t=68, 5000
>>> t=75, 6000
>>> t=80, 7000
>>> t=85, 8000
>>> t=90, 9000
>>> t=100, 10000
>>> With time-delta-scaled size, we'd have:
>>> t=10, 1000 txs
>>> t=30, 3000 txs
>>> t=60, 6000 txs
>>> t=63, 6300 txs
>>> t=68, 6800 txs
>>> t=75, 7500 txs
>>> t=80, 8000 txs
>>> t=90, 9000 txs
>>> t=100, 10000 txs
>>> Any thoughts? The main issue I see is gaming timestamps, but can't that
>>> be solved by nodes not propagating blocks until timestamps are no longer
>>> dated in the future? Miners could still risk and add a timestamp few
>>> minutes into the future, but they would risk their block being orphaned if
>>> another miner finds another block with a valid timestamp, thus propagating
>>> through the network (before the future dated block can propagate).
>>> --
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