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The Taub Faculty of Computer Science Events and Talks

Braess Paradox in Blockchain Layer-2 Payment Networks
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Arad Kotzer (M.Sc. Thesis Seminar)
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Wednesday, 22.03.2023, 11:30
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Zoom Lecture: 98170371363 and Taub 401
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Advisor: Prof. Ori Rottenstreich
Layer-2 is a popular approach to deal with the scalability limitation of blockchain networks. It allows users to execute transactions without committing them to the blockchain by relying on predefined payment channels. Users together with the payment channels form a graph known as the offchain network topology. Transactions between pairs of users without a connecting channel are also supported through a path of multiple channels. Serving such transactions involves fees paid to intermediate users. In this work, we uncover the potential existence of the Braess paradox in payment networks: Sometimes, establishing a new payment channel can increase the fees paid for serving some fixed transactions. We study conditions for the paradox to appear and provide indications for the appearance of the paradox based on real data of Bitcoin's Lightning, a popular layer-2 network. Last, we discuss methods to mitigate the paradox upon establishing a new payment channel.