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Prof. Dr. M. Jarke
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Blockchain

Thesis type
  • Master
Status Open
Supervisor(s)
Advisor(s)
  • Thomas Osterland

Often only noticed as a technology that enables the digital currency Bitcoin, blockchain is a novel protocol that allows the distributed and secure storing of information and untempered execution of program code in trust-less environments. Did you ever feel the intense desire to write a thesis about blockchain or do you have a slight hope that blockchain is the one-and-only topic that touches your heart? Use your chance now! We are looking forward to hear from you.

 

The blockchain itself represents a datastructure consisting of chained blocks holding transactions that can store information or trigger the execution of program code (called chaincode or smart contracts) on the blockchain.

Tnull he major process of the blockchain protocol starts with the creation of a transaction. This transaction is distributed over the blockchain network. In this state the transaction is not-mined and therefore not persistent. The collection of not-mined transaction is called the transaction pool and is shared by every node in the network.

A blockchain network consists of several nodes that share aside from the transaction pool, also the blockchain datastructure itself. The nodes compete against each other in extending the blockchain by creating new blocks that persistently store transactions from the pool of not-mined transactions. The addition of new blocks provides effort, since it is necessary to solve a cryptographic puzzle with the characteristic that it is hard to solve, but easy to verify given a correct solution. The solving process is called mining. A correct solution is distributed over the network and verified by the remaining network participants. In the case that the verification succeeds the block is added to the blockchain and the containing transactions removed from the local copy of the mining node.

By competing against each other it is possible that multiple nodes simultaneously find a correct solution. In this case it is possible that the set of nodes partitions into different groups that work on different instances of the blockchain. These chains will be maintained simultaneously until one chain becomes longer. The longest blockchain in the network is assumed to be the correct chain. Because every node solves an individual, and thus a potentially harder, mining puzzle at a certain point one competing chain becomes longer and the blocks of the other chain become orphaned.

The blockchain technology allows the untempered execution of program code and thus the formalization of incorruptible and independently self-executing contracts replacing or augmenting traditional contracts. A popular example of such a smart contract is a car leasing contract. If you forget to pay your monthly due the contract will automatically recognizes the missing transfer and prevents the car from starting. It is self-executing, pro-active and incorruptible, since it is executed by the unbiased blockchain.

In contrast to traditional software there are certain peculiarities attached to smart contracts: 1. The blockchain represents an append-only ledger and a once instantiated smart contract can not be easily updated or deleted. 2. A smart contract must be subscribed by an inhomogeneous group of persons, so e.g., technical experts, bank accountants or regular customers. But a person (should) only subscribe to a contract she understands. So smart contracts should be short and understandable. 3. The blockchain is a transparent storage medium. Every validating peer has full access to all the information stored in the blockchain, such that private and sensitive data must be protected and excluded from the blockchain.

 

Thesis Topics

The following table gives an overview of thesis proposals. If you have own ideas for research topics regarding Blockchain do not hesitate to contact us.

 

Title

Topic Description

Visualization of Internal Blockchain Processes

  • Create a scenario in Ethereum, where situations, as orphaned blocks, forks and competetive blockchains occur

  • Create an appealing visualization

Advanced Concepts in Smart Contract Creation

  • State the benefits and drawbacks of:

    • Creating large stand-alone smart contracts, vs.

    • Compose large contracts from a number of small single-purpose contracts

  • Examine potential problems as cascading effects

Examining Scalability of Blockchain Networks

  • Determine lower bound for block creation duration and impacts on the transaction throughput

  • Determine upper bounds for a blockchain network with respect to the number of nodes and transaction throughput

  • Develope a simulation environment for the Ethereum blockchain

 

References

 

 

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