Is bitcoin broken? Gavin Andresen responds to mining vulnerability paper

Gavin Andresen today formally addressed the recent paper titled 'Majority is not enough: bitcoin mining vulnerable'.

AccessTimeIconNov 7, 2013 at 4:51 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 10, 2021 at 11:46 a.m. UTC

Gavin Andresen, writing on the Bitcoin Foundation blog today formally addressed the recent paper published by two academics at Cornell University titled 'Majority is Not Enough: Bitcoin Mining Vulnerable' saying:

"It is unfortunate (but entirely predictable) that the release of a not-yet-peer-reviewed paper generated so many sensationalistic headlines. Peer review works best when everybody involved is given time for conversation and debate without being contacted by reporters on deadline."

The paper, which drew the attention of major news outlets around the world on Tuesday has already been the subject of some controversy within the bitcoin developer community which largely rebuffed the claims.

Andresen even commented publicly on Twitter saying that it was 'Not a big deal'.

In today's post he continued:

"I’m not going to write about the specific claims in the paper; lots of smart people are, or soon will be, thinking really hard about the issues raised and whether or not the researcher’s model matches reality.

However, it is good to note that in my initial review, I believe the paper’s assertion of a fundamental flaw is based on some over-simplified assumptions about how the bitcoin mining market works.

This response is not meant to discourage academic research. In fact, as a Foundation, we believe that the strength of the open source development process is bringing together lots of incredibly smart people to consider and resolve long-term issues like those raised by researchers. To that point, we are proud sponsors of International Financial Cryptography Association. During their 18th international conference, they will be hosting the first Bitcoin Technical Workshop.

We encourage researchers to submit papers and expect to see excellent work that will add immense value to the protocol and community."

Indeed, intelligent responses have already started to emerge. For example, Ed Felten on 'Freedom to Tinker' today published the idea of a 'Fair Weather' mining strategy, where miners simply collude to do whatever is best for themselves at the cost of the Selfish Mining pool.



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