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Library > Practical Settlement Bounds for Longest-Chain Consensus

Practical Settlement Bounds for Longest-Chain Consensus

August/2023, Crypto '23


Nakamoto's longest-chain consensus paradigm now powers the bulk of the world's cryptocurrencies and distributed finance infrastructure. An emblematic property of longest-chain consensus is that it provides probabilistic settlement guarantees that strengthen over time. This makes the exact relationship between settlement error and settlement latency a critical aspect of the protocol that both users and system designers must understand to make informed decisions. A recent line of work has finally provided a satisfactory rigorous accounting of this relationship for proof-of-work longest-chain protocols, but those techniques do not appear to carry over to the proof-of-stake setting.

This article develops explicit, rigorous settlement bounds for proof-of-stake longest-chain protocols, placing them on equal footing with their proof-of-work counterparts. Our techniques apply with some adaptations also to the proof-of-work setting where they provide improvements to the state-of-the-art settlement bounds for proof-of-work protocols.