Preparation for Recitation on Blockchains
Read "Do you need a Blockchain?" by Wüst and Gervais. A blockchain is a data structure that leverages cryptographic techniques to create a public distributed ledger; blockchains first came to attention as part of the implementation of Bitcoin and similar cryptocurrencies, but there has been some enthusiasm for applying them in other domains. This paper summarizes the nature and properties of blockchains, lays out some principles for how to use them sensibly, and takes up some common proposed use cases.
- Section II summarizes blockchain. Even if you consider yourself familiar with blockchain, you may find it worthwhile to read this to see if you agree with the authors' perspective.
- Section III and the associated flow chart outlines the authors' view of how to apply blockchains.
- Section IV takes up nine different application areas and considers the relevance of blockchain to each.
As you read, think about:
- What is the role of trust in building effective systems?
- How important is it in various different use cases to be able to build systems without trusting a central party?
- Are there other use cases you know for which the authors' analysis is invalid?
- Could you apply the authors' analysis technique effectively if you were confronted with the question of whether to use a blockchain?
Question for Recitation
Before you come to this recitation, write up (on paper) a brief answer to the following (really—we don't need more than a couple sentences for each question). If your TA has requested that you email your answer to them, you may do that instead, but it should still be handed in before your recitation begins.
Your answers to these questions should be in your own words, not direct quotations from the paper.
- What are some key indicators that suggest using a blockchain is a good idea?
- What are some key indicators that suggest using a blockchain is a bad idea?
- Why does permissioned vs. permissionless matter for these systems?