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Clack is Joint Field Chief Editor for the research journal Frontiers in Blockchain. Recent publications from Frontiers in Blockchain are given below:

  • Formal verification of the pub-sub blockchain interoperability protocol using stochastic timed automata

    Formal verification of the pub-sub blockchain interoperability protocol using stochastic timed automata

    In recent times, the research on blockchain interoperability has gained momentum, enabling the entities from different heterogeneous blockchain networks to communicate with each other seamlessly. Amid the proliferation of blockchain ventures, for ensuring the correctness of inter-blockchain communication protocols, manual checking and testing of all the potential pitfalls and possible inter-blockchain interactions are rarely possible. To ameliorate this, in this paper, we propose a systematic approach to model and formally verify the real-time properties of the pub-sub interoperability protocol, with a special focus on message communication through API calls among publishers, subscribers, and brokers. In particular, we use stochastic timed automata for its modeling, and we prove its correctness with respect to a number of relevant properties using model checking—more specifically, the UPPAAL-SMC model checker. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first proposal of its kind to formally verify the blockchain pub-sub interoperability protocol using model checking.

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  • Shaping the future of Ethereum: exploring energy consumption in Proof-of-Work and Proof-of-Stake consensus

    Shaping the future of Ethereum: exploring energy consumption in Proof-of-Work and Proof-of-Stake consensus

    Ethereum (ETH) is a popular Layer-1 blockchain platform that has been used to create decentralized applications (dApps) and smart contracts. Ethereum 2.0, or Serenity, is a significant update to the network that intends to address numerous issues with scalability, security, and energy efficiency. The Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus method will replace the Proof-of-Work (PoW) mechanism, which is one of the major new features of Ethereum 2.0. Given that PoS doesn’t require miners to do intensive mathematical calculations in order to validate transactions, it has the potential to be more energy-efficient than PoW. Additionally, this Ethereum upgrade will also be more secure due to the introduction of a new mechanism called “Casper” that will ensure that validators are always in agreement on the state of the blockchain. The paper begins by discussing the current issues facing Ethereum, including the limitations of the Proof of Work (PoW) consensus mechanism and the need for more efficient and scalable solutions. In this study, we peered at the major changes introduced by Ethereum 2.0, such as the new consensus method (Proof-of-Stake) and the addition of shard chains (Ethereum 2.0), as well as the associated development timelines, benefits and the community criticism on this upgrade.

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  • BOFUS and CLARITY: streamlining blockchain architecture and assessment for advanced standardization and interoperability in distributed ledger technologies

    BOFUS and CLARITY: streamlining blockchain architecture and assessment for advanced standardization and interoperability in distributed ledger technologies

    The Blockchain Organized Framework for Unified Systems (BOFUS) and the Comprehensive Ledger Assessment for Robust Interoperability and Trustworthiness (CLARITY) initiatives address the challenges of understanding, standardizing, and enabling interoperability between diverse blockchain systems. BOFUS is a comprehensive 5-layer model that systematically organizes core blockchain components, while the CLARITY assessment provides a standardized method for evaluating and comparing blockchains using the CONFIGURE acronym. Together, these initiatives aim to facilitate a deeper understanding of blockchain technology, promote effective communication and collaboration between stakeholders, and ultimately advance the development and adoption of distributed ledger technologies. This paper presents an in-depth discussion of the BOFUS architecture and the CLARITY assessment, exploring their utility in various blockchain scenarios and their potential implications for the future of blockchain technology.

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  • Editorial: Blockchain and distributed ledger technology—enabled architectures for improving healthcare
  • Analyzing decision-making in blockchain governance

    Analyzing decision-making in blockchain governance

    Blockchain systems are a novel technology that allow for innovative business models. However, due to the decentralized nature of blockchains, new organizational challenges arise. Blockchains require intricate governance mechanisms to align all interests of the involved stakeholders. A crucial part of blockchain governance is decision-making, i.e., the way how a community of a blockchain system can reach decisions. While blockchain governance has received considerable interest of academia, decision-making in blockchains has not yet been sufficiently addressed. Through an exploratory multiple case study, we establish a framework for analyzing decision-making in blockchain systems and identify two dimensions along which decision-making in blockchains can be classified—namely community-driven vs. institution-driven as well as off-chain vs. on-chain decision-making. Even though blockchains are decentralized systems, we can show that there are often highly centralized elements present. The degree of this centralization varies across blockchains and might be connected to the business cases and origins of the different systems. Furthermore, many factors of decision-making processes in blockchains are still off-chain and only some factors are truly on-chain. We arrived at these insights through a structured approach for decision-making in blockchains. Thus, we provide new tools for researcher and practitioners and pave the way to novel blockchain applications with sound decision-making mechanisms.

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  • A statistical examination of utilization trends in decentralized applications

    A statistical examination of utilization trends in decentralized applications

    Decentralized applications (dApp) have proliferated in recent years, but their long-term viability is a topic of debate. However, for dApps to be sustainable, and suitable for integration into a larger service networks, they need to attract users and promise reliable availability. Therefore, assessing their longevity is crucial. Analyzing the utilization trajectory of a service is, however, challenging due to several factors, such as demand spikes, noise, autocorrelation, and non-stationarity. In this study, we employ robust statistical techniques to identify trends in currently popular dApps. Our findings demonstrate that a significant proportion of dApps, across a range of categories, exhibit statistically significant positive overall trends, indicating that success in decentralized computing can be sustainable and transcends specific fields. However, there is also a substantial number of dApps showing negative trends, with a disproportionately high number from the decentralized finance (DeFi) category. Furthermore, a more detailed inspection of time series segments shows a clearly diminishing proportion of positive trends from mid-2021 to the present. In summary, we conclude that the dApp economy might have lost some momentum, and that there is a strong element of uncertainty regarding its future significance.

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  • An analysis of griefs and griefing factors

    An analysis of griefs and griefing factors

    We consider griefing factors, a system for measurement of the cost-effectiveness of sabotage, which have been used to analyze the attack resistance of blockchain systems. Attackers are said to “grief” if they accept economic harm to themselves in order to harm others; the griefing factor is the ratio of the harm done to the victim to the harm taken on by the attacker. In this work, we study the mathematical properties of this notion, particularly focusing on how the presence of players willing to engage in griefs at varying griefing factors impacts the equilibria present in games.

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  • EasyChain: an IoT-friendly blockchain for robust and energy-efficient authentication

    EasyChain: an IoT-friendly blockchain for robust and energy-efficient authentication

    The Internet of Everything (IoE) is a bigger picture that tries to fit the Internet of Things (IoT) that is widely deployed in smart applications. IoE brings people, data, processes, and things to form a network that is more connected and increases overall system intelligence. A further investigation of the IoE can really mean creating a distributed network focusing on edge computing instead of relying on the cloud. Blockchain is one of the recently distributed network technologies which by structure and operations provide data integrity and security in trust-less P2P networks such as IoE. Blockchain can also remove the need for central entities which is the main hurdle for the wide adoption of IoT in large networks. IoT “things” are resource-constrained both in power and computation to adopt the conventional blockchain consensus algorithms that are power and compute-hungry. To solve that problem, this paper proposes EasyChain, a blockchain that is robust along with running on a lightweight authentication-based consensus protocol that is known as Proof-of-Authentication (PoAh). This blockchain based on the lightweight consensus protocol replaces the power-hungry transaction, blocks validation steps, and provides ease of usage in resource-constrained environments such as IoE. The proposed blockchain is designed using the Python language for an easy understanding of the functions and increased ease of integration into IoE applications. The designed blockchain system is also deployed on a single-board computer to analyze its feasibility and scalability. The latency observed in the simulated and experimental evaluations is 148.89 ms which is very fast compared to the existing algorithms.

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  • Algorithmic governance, code as law, and the blockchain common: Power relations in the blockchain-based society

    Algorithmic governance, code as law, and the blockchain common: Power relations in the blockchain-based society

    “Code is law” became a buzz term in Web3 and blockchain reality. Despite the term being already used much earlier by Lawrence Lessig in the year 2000 in his book titled “Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace,” when the internet and Web2 were emerging, the rise of smart contracts and complex algorithmic power made the term genuinely resonate with the (idealised) Web3 reality. The entrainment of technological solutionism in the brains of members of society gives an impression that a world governed by algorithms will be a fairer one. However, research has shown that many members of society are not standard statistical representations of the majority and whilst algorithmic governance leaves room for “standard deviation,” individuals that fall outside this standard deviation are, in fact, very disadvantaged. There are numerous research papers as well as popular science books that address the issue of algorithmic bias and unfairness in Web 2. The proponents of blockchain and web3 technology argue that with a DAO-governed, decentralised society, problems of biased algorithmic governance are solved as power and decision-making are decentralised, and members use their governance tokens to collectively decide on the law encoded in the smart contracts that are the ultimate law enforcement apparatus. Web3 promises a shift of power from governments and corporations to people and token holders, arguing it will make a Web3-governed society fairer. This paper is based on decoding this promise and using Althusser’s model of a state apparatus to show how the power relations changed in Web2 and Web3 realities. It shows that Web3 promises of the code becoming the law were already present in the Web2 discourse and discovers a model of an ideological apparatus power struggle between states and Web2 giants. Next, the power relations in the blockchain society are researched, starting from the idealised model of decentralised, token-holder governed power, which regulates the governments and corporations, to a discussion on what the actual power relations and struggles might result from encoding the law in the smart contract. Research shows that in Web3, “code is law” society. There will be power struggles and opposition on a vertical and horizontal level. The vertical struggle is the power enforcement (originally in the hands of the state in Althusser’s (1970) model between the code and individuals, governments and corporations not willing to conform with the code-enforced law or falling outside the standard deviation of statistics-based AI algorithms hence being disadvantaged by the smart contract enforced laws. The horizontal power struggle is based on what Althusser describes as the ideological apparatus. Here, the struggle is based on a fight between individuals (the society), corporations, and the state for code-modifying resources and/or leverage over the governance token holders. Overall, the paper argues and shows that blockchain-based “code is law” reality does not solve the issue of unequal power relations within societies but only as any technological revolution shifts the power relations and power struggles between existing and new actors. Unlike the founder of Polkadot, Gavin Wood states that blockchain, DAOs, smart contracts, and Web3 overall do not result in the new social sphere with revolutionised power relations. Where Web3 is now is much more similar to where Web1 and Web2 were 25–30 years ago—Creating a new space for social interactions and discourse yet being stuck within the same social sphere and uneven power relations that have governed our societies for centuries.

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  • Design pattern recommendations for building decentralized healthcare applications

    Design pattern recommendations for building decentralized healthcare applications

    Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies (DLT) are emerging decentralized infrastructures touted by researchers to improve existing systems that have been limited by centralized governance and proprietary control. These technologies have shown continued success in sustaining the operational models of modern cryptocurrencies and decentralized finance applications (DeFi). These applications has incentivized growing discussions in their potential applications and adoption in other sectors such as healthcare, which has a high demand for data liquidity and interoperability. Despite the increasing research efforts in adopting blockchain and DLT in healthcare with conceptual designs and prototypes, a major research gap exists in literature: there is a lack of design recommendations that discuss concrete architectural styles and domain-specific considerations that are necessary for implementing health data exchange systems based on these technologies. This paper aims to address this gap in research by introducing a collection of design patterns for constructing blockchain and DLT-based healthcare systems that support secure and scalable data sharing. Our approach adapts traditional software patterns and proposes novel patterns that take into account both the technical requirements specific to healthcare systems and the implications of these requirements on naive blockchain-based solutions.

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