On solving fair exchange and related distributed problems in Byzantine environments


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On solving fair exchange and related distributed problems in Byzantine environments
Rickebusch I.
Garbinato B.
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Université de Lausanne, Faculté des hautes études commerciales
Administration BFSH1, 1015 Lausanne
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The solvability of the problem of fair exchange in a synchronous system subject to Byzantine failures is investigated in this work. The fair exchange problem arises when a group of processes are required to exchange digital items in a fair manner, which means that either each process obtains the item it was expecting or no process obtains any information on, the inputs of others.
After introducing a novel specification of fair exchange that clearly separates safety and liveness, we give an overview of the difficulty of solving such a problem in the context of a fully-connected topology. On one hand, we show that no solution to fair exchange exists in the absence of an identified process that every process can trust a priori; on the other, a well-known solution to fair exchange relying on a trusted third party is recalled. These two results lead us to complete our system model with a flexible representation of the notion of trust. We then show that fair exchange is solvable if and only if a connectivity condition, named the reachable majority condition, is satisfied. The necessity of the condition is proven by an impossibility result and its sufficiency by presenting a general solution to fair exchange relying on a set of trusted processes.
The focus is then turned towards a specific network topology in order to provide a fully decentralized, yet realistic, solution to fair exchange. The general solution mentioned above is optimized by reducing the computational load assumed by trusted processes as far as possible. Accordingly, our fair exchange protocol relies on trusted tamperproof modules that have limited communication abilities and are only required in key steps of the algorithm. This modular solution is then implemented in the context of a pedagogical application developed for illustrating and apprehending the complexity of fair exchange. This application, which also includes the implementation of a wide range of Byzantine behaviors, allows executions of the algorithm to be set up and monitored through a graphical display.
Surprisingly, some of our results on fair exchange seem contradictory with those found in the literature of secure multiparty computation, a problem from the field of modern cryptography, although the two problems have much in common. Both problems are closely related to the notion of trusted third party, but their approaches and descriptions differ greatly. By introducing a common specification framework, a comparison is proposed in order to clarify their differences and the possible origins of the confusion between them. This leads us to introduce the problem of generalized fair computation, a generalization of fair exchange. Finally, a solution to this new problem is given by generalizing our modular solution to fair exchange
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09/12/2009 11:52
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03/06/2020 6:21
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