区块链(Blockchain)是由节点参与的分布式数据库系统,它的特点是不可更改,不可伪造,也可以将其理解为账簿系统(ledger)。它是比特币的一个重要概念,完整比特币区块链的副本,记录了其代币(token)的每一笔交易。通过这些信息,我们可以找到每一个地址,在历史上任何一点所拥有的价值。

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近年来,随着数字加密货币逐步走进人们的视野,其底层的区块链技术也引起了研究者的高度重视。区块链作为一种分布式账本技术,具有多方维护、不可篡改、公开透明等特点。首先,将区块链结构按层级进行划分,从低到高介绍了每层的作用和原理,根据开放程度将区块链分为公有链、联盟链、私有链,以比特币、Hyperledger Fabric为例分析了公有链和联盟链的工作机理。其次,对区块链的底层核心技术共识算法、智能合约、隐私安全做了详细阐述。最后,分析了区块链的研究进展并进行了展望。

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Permissioned blockchains are becoming popular as data management systems in the enterprise setting. Compared to traditional distributed databases, blockchain platforms provide increased security guarantees but significantly lower performance. Further, these platforms are quite expensive to run for the low throughput they provide. The following are two ways to improve performance and reduce cost: (1) make the system utilize allocated resources efficiently; (2) allow rapid and dynamic scaling of allocated resources based on load. We explore both of these in this work. We first investigate the reasons for the poor performance and scalability of the dominant permissioned blockchain flavor called Execute-Order-Validate (EOV). We do this by studying the scaling characteristics of Hyperledger Fabric, a popular EOV platform, using vertical scaling and horizontal scaling. We find that the transaction throughput scales very poorly with these techniques. At least in the permissioned setting, the real bottleneck is transaction processing, not the consensus protocol. With vertical scaling, the allocated vCPUs go under-utilized. In contrast, with horizontal scaling, the allocated resources get wasted due to redundant work across nodes within an organization. To mitigate the above concerns, we first improve resource efficiency by (a) improving CPU utilization with a pipelined execution of validation & commit phases; (b) avoiding redundant work across nodes by introducing a new type of peer node called sparse peer that selectively commits transactions. We further propose a technique that enables the rapid scaling of resources. Our implementation - SmartFabric, built on top of Hyperledger Fabric demonstrates 3x higher throughput, 12-26x faster scale-up time, and provides Fabric's throughput at 50% to 87% lower cost.

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