RMIT Optimisation Seminar: Dr. Rhys Bowden, University of Melbourne

Speaker: Dr. Rhys Bowden, University of Melbourne

Title:  Consensus versus scaling for cryptocurrency blockchains

Date and Time:  Friday, September 20th, 3.00pm – 4.00pm

Location: Building 8 Level 9 Room 66 (AGR) RMIT City campus

Abstract:   Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies maintain a distributed global ledger in the form of a blockchain. Blocks are like pages in the ledger; each block is linked to the most recent prior block in the chain. Blocks are generated at random times at random mining computers in the Bitcoin network, then propagated to the other miners and the remainder of the network.

In order to increase the rate at which transactions are included in the blockchain, some proposals suggest increasing the rate at which blocks are mined relative to how long it takes them to propagate through the network. This can result in different versions of the blockchain being present at different miners. Miners can only mine on top of blocks they know about, so instead of a linear chain of blocks there’s now a tree. We model this situation to find out how this “blocktree” grows and what that means for global agreement on the contents of the ledger.

Bio: Dr Rhys Bowden obtained a PhD in mathematics from the University of Adelaide in 2015 for a thesis titled “Link Loss Tomography and Topology Synthesis”. Since then, he has worked at the University of Melbourne, first in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and then in the School of Mathematics and Statistics. He is interested in modelling stochastic processes (particularly on graphs), computer network measurement, network tomography, cryptocurrencies and blockchains.

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