One of the (many) reasons that led to the sustainability of the Bitcoin system was the ability of the developers to assimilate research results from the security community and integrate them swiftly within the development of released client implementations. This strategy has probably saved the Bitcoin community from a wide range of attacks and threats that would have definitely crippled Bitcoin’s growth. This also led to an implicit partnership between various researchers working on analyzing and securing Bitcoin and the Bitcoin development community. The immediate outcome is that several of the countermeasures proposed by the research community have been effectively integrated in official Bitcoin client releases. Nevertheless, several security challenges remain ahead for Bitcoin, and there seems to be a sharp disagreement in the community and among core Bitcoin developers on the necessary strategies to sustain the growth of the system. These debates were mostly fueled by discussions on expanding Bitcoin’s block sizes. More specifically, a subset of the core developers were in favor of increasing the block size beyond the default cap of 1 MB in order to better cope with the growth of the network, while the rest of developers opposed such a move in the fear of changing/worsening the current network dynamics. This large debate resulted in the exit of developers who were favoring the increase of the maximum block size—a move that many see as the start of the decline of the emerging currency. In this book, we are not concerned with contributing to the debate on the best strategies to sustain the growth of the system, nor do we plan to take part in favoring any of the existing Bitcoin forks (Bitcoin core, Bitcoin classic, Bitcoin XT), nor do we aim at suggesting/motivating any particular scalability changes to the core Bitcoin system. We definitely do not wish to contribute to the speculations about the future of the currency. Our view (which several other researchers in the community also share) is that the Bitcoin experiment has clearly succeeded. We base this view on the fact that no other proposal for digital currency—besides Bitcoin—has withstood the test of time; Bitcoin has sustained more than 9 years of operation. Namely, no other digital currency proposal—besides Bitcoin—has witnessed such a massive adoption by users/vendors/businesses.
- Fall '18
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