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The Performance, Interoperability and Integration of Distributed Ledger Technologies
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering, Embedded Internet Systems Lab.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9865-8753
2019 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, Bitcoin emerged as a radical new alternative to the fiat currencies of the traditional banking sector. Through the use of a novel kind of probabilistic consensus algorithm, Bitcoin proved it possible to guarantee the integrity of a digital currency by relying on network majority votes instead of trusted institutions. By showing that it was technically feasible to, at least to some extent, replace the entire banking sector with computers, many significant actors started asking what else this new technology could help automate. A subsequent, seemingly inevitable, wave of efforts produced a multitude of new distributed ledger systems, architectures and applications, all somehow attempting to leverage distributed consensus algorithms to replace trusted intermediaries, facilitating value ownership, transfer and regulation.

In this thesis, we scrutinize distributed ledger technologies in terms of how they could help facilitate the digitization of contractual cooperation, especially in the context of the supply chain and manufacturing industries. Concretely, we consider them from three distinct technical perspectives, (1) performance, (2) interoperability and (3) integration. Voting systems, with or without probabilistic mechanisms, require significant time and resources to operate, for which reason it becomes relevant to investigate how the costs of running those systems can be mitigated. In particular, we consider how a blockchain, a form of distributed ledger, can be pruned to in order to reduce disk space requirements. Furthermore, no technical system part of a larger business is an island, but will have to be able to interoperate with other systems to maximize the opportunity for automation. For this reason, we also consider how transparent message translation between systems could be facilitated, as well as presenting a formalism for expressing the syntactic structure of message payloads. Finally, we propose a concrete architecture, the Exchange Network, that models contractual interactions as negotiations about token exchanges rather than as function invocations and state machine transitions, which we argue lowers the barrier to compatibility with conventional legal and business practices.

Even if no more trusted institutions could be replaced by any forthcoming distributed ledger technologies, we believe contractual interactions becoming more digital would lead to an increased opportunity for using computers to monitor, assist or even directly participate in the negotiation, management and tracking of business agreements, which we see as more than enough to warrant the cost of further developing of the technology. Such computer involvement may not just save time and reduce costs, but could also enable new kinds of computer-driven economies. In the long run, this may enable new levels of resource optimization, and not just within large organizations, but also smaller companies, or even the homes of families and individuals.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Luleå: Luleå University of Technology, 2019.
Series
Licentiate thesis / Luleå University of Technology, ISSN 1402-1757
Keywords [en]
blockchain, distributed ledger, distributed ledger technologies, industry 4.0, smart industries
National Category
Computer Systems
Research subject
Industrial Electronics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-74046ISBN: 978-91-7790-402-1 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7790-403-8 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-74046DiVA, id: diva2:1318162
Presentation
2019-08-28, A1545, A-Huset, Luleå Universitet, 971 87, 09:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-05-27 Created: 2019-05-27 Last updated: 2019-07-10Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Selective Blockchain Transaction Pruning and State Derivability
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Selective Blockchain Transaction Pruning and State Derivability
2018 (English)In: 2018 Crypto Valley Conference on Blockchain Technology: CVCBT 2018, 2018, p. 31-40Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Distributed ledger technologies, such as blockchain systems, have in recent years emerged as promising platforms for machine-to-machine commerce and other forms of multi-stakeholder applications. However, despite the potential demonstrated by projects such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Hyperledger Fabric, the disk space typically required to host a copy of a ledger may be prohibitively large for many categories of devices. In this paper, we introduce an approach for reducing ledger size in blockchain systems, based on arbitrary pruning predicate functions, allowing each network participant to independently select and remove any already applied transactions. We also show that if only pruning certain ledger transactions, the ability to derive an unmodified state data structure from the remaining transactions is maintained. The approach is validated through a supply chain use case utilizing a modified version of Hyperledger Fabric, in which ledger size is reduced by about 84.49% via selective transaction pruning.

Keywords
blockchain, transaction pruning, disk usage, application state, database, distributed
National Category
Computer Systems
Research subject
Industrial Electronics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-72435 (URN)10.1109/CVCBT.2018.00009 (DOI)000466595100004 ()57193322103 (Scopus ID)978-1-5386-7205-1 (ISBN)978-1-5386-7204-4 (ISBN)
Conference
2018 Crypto Valley Conference on Blockchain Technology (CVCBT), JUN 20-22, Zug, SWITZERLAND
Projects
Productive 4.0
Available from: 2019-01-04 Created: 2019-01-04 Last updated: 2019-08-05Bibliographically approved
2. Syntactic Translation of Message Payloads Between At Least Partially Equivalent Encodings
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Syntactic Translation of Message Payloads Between At Least Partially Equivalent Encodings
2019 (English)Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Recent years have seen a surge of interest in using IoT systems for an increasingly diverse set of applications, with use cases ranging from medicine to mining. Due to the disparate needs of these applications, vendors are adopting a growing number of messaging protocols, encodings and semantics, which result in poor interoperability unless systems are explicitly designed to work together. Key efforts, such as Industry 4.0, put heavy emphasis on being able to compose arbitrary IoT systems to create emergent applications, which makes mitigating this barrier to interoperability a significant objective. In this paper, we present a theoretical method for translating message payloads in transit between endpoints, complementing previous work on protocol translation. The method involves representing and analyzing encoding syntaxes with the aim of identifying the concrete translations that can be performed without risk of syntactic data loss. While the method does not facilitate translation between all possible encodings or semantics, we believe that it could be extended to enable such translation.

Keywords
translation system, translator, payload translation, formal model
National Category
Computer Sciences
Research subject
Industrial Electronics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-73475 (URN)
Conference
2019 IEEE International Conference on Industrial Technology (ICIT), Melbourne, Australia, 13-15 February 2019
Projects
Productive 4.0
Available from: 2019-04-05 Created: 2019-04-05 Last updated: 2019-08-05
3. The Exchange Network: An Architecture for the Negotiation of Non-Repudiable Token Exchanges
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Exchange Network: An Architecture for the Negotiation of Non-Repudiable Token Exchanges
2019 (English)Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Many use cases coming out of initiatives such as Industry 4.0 and Ubiquitous Computing require that systems be able to cooperate by negotiating about and agreeing on the exchange of arbitrary values. While solutions able to facilitate such negotiation exist, they tend to either be domain-specific or lack mechanisms for non-repudiation, which make them unfit for the heterogeneity and scale of many compelling applications. In this paper, we present the Exchange Network, a general-purpose and implementation-independent architecture for digital negotiation and non-repudiable exchanges of tokens, which are symbolic representations of arbitrary values. We consider the implications of implementing the architecture in three different ways, using a common database, a blockchain, and our own Signature Chain data structure, which we also describe. We demonstrate the feasibility of the architecture by outlining our own implementation of it and also describe a supply-chain scenario inspired by one transportation process at Volvo Trucks.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
IEEE, 2019
Keywords
blockchain, architecture, negotiation, integration, commerce
National Category
Computer Systems
Research subject
Industrial Electronics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-74043 (URN)
Conference
IEEE International Conference on Industrial Informatics (INDIN), Helsinki, Finland, 23-25 June 2019
Projects
Productive 4.0
Available from: 2019-05-27 Created: 2019-05-27 Last updated: 2019-08-05
4. Approaching Non-Disruptive Distributed Ledger Technologies
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Approaching Non-Disruptive Distributed Ledger Technologies
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Distributed ledger technologies have been considered for a plethora of interesting use cases, ranging from supply chain integration to open medical journals. While able to facilitate novel forms of collaboration, the technologies also tend to break with existing business practices by imposing new requirements on cooperation governance, interaction privacy and contract making. In this paper, we identify distributed consensus algorithms and code-as-contracts as common causes of these paradigmatic divergences, and propose a system design that depends on neither of them. In particular, we present an experimental implementation of our Exchange Network architecture that uses a consensus procedure comparable to that of R3 Corda, but that models its interactions as negotiations about ownership exchanges rather than as function invocations and finite state machine transitions. Furthermore, we characterize the current cooperational paradigm and outline six requirements of adherence, as well as considering both how our own solution and how R3 Corda could fulfill them. We conclude that our design approach provides better opportunity for compatibility with conventional legal and business practices than the state-of-the-art.

Keywords
Digital negotiation, digital cooperation, digital contracts, smart contracts, distributed ledger technology, blockchain, distributed consensus algorithms, business integration, digitalization.
National Category
Computer Systems
Research subject
Industrial Electronics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-74045 (URN)
Projects
Productive 4.0
Available from: 2019-05-27 Created: 2019-05-27 Last updated: 2019-06-17

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