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What consensus protocol does RSK use?

RSK uses DECOR+, a unique variant of Nakamoto Consensus, with the capability to merge-mine with Bitcoin or any other blockchain sharing the Bitcoin block format and proof-of-work.

Merge-mining is a protocol that allows miners to mine on two or more blockchains at the same time with exactly the same hardware. RSK is designed such that merge-mining with Bitcoin does not pose any performance penalty to bitcoin miners. Therefore merge-miners can earn rewards on both RSK and Bitcoin simultaneously. RSK has improved several open-source mining-pool software to enable merge-mining. Currently more than 40% of Bitcoin hashrate is merge-mining RSK, making RSK the most secure Turing-complete smart-contract platform in the world in terms of cumulative energy spent to secure it. The RSK community is evaluating the upgrade to a recently developed variant of merge-mining called Strong Fork-aware Merge-Mining (SFAMM) that can increase the cumulative energy spent to secure RSK to 100% of Bitcoin’s hashrate.

What is the DECOR+ protocol?

In the Bitcoin network, when two or more miners have solved blocks at equal height, there is a conflict of interests. Each competing miner wants his block to be selected by the remaining miners as the best-chain tip. All the remaining honest miners and users would prefer that everyone chooses the same block tip, because this reduces the block reversal probability. DECOR+ sets the right economic incentives for a convergent choice, without requiring further interaction between miners. The conflict is resolved so that:

The resolution is agreed by all parties (consensus) when all parties have access to the same blockchain state of information within a time bound (synchronous).

If the system is partially synchronous, the conflict is resolved as in Nakamoto Consensus.

The resolution maximizes all miner’s revenue when the conflicting block revenue (fees) is much higher than the average.

The resolution reduces the power of the miners to censor other blocks or transactions when the conflicting block has a reward close to the average.

Resolving the conflict takes negligible time

Is RSK secure from selfish mining?

RSK uses the DECOR+ consensus protocol. DECOR+ is incentive-compatible and protects the network from selfish-mining when the rate of honest uncle blocks produced by the network is low. If the uncle rate is high, then a selfish incentive may arise, as described by Camacho-Lerner. To improve it, several fixes have been proposed, such as, the “sticky” rule, delaying the transfer of the weight of uncles in GHOST, or allowing referencing uncle-children in the same way as uncles. With any of these fixes, RSK consensus protocol becomes incentive-compatible assuming that transaction fees are stable, and there are no off-chain payments or bribes to miners.

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