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Merged Mining: Analysis of Effects and Implications

Date: 2017-08-24
Author(s): Alexei Zamyatin, Edgar Weippl

Link to Paper

Merged mining refers to the concept of mining more than one cryptocurrency without necessitating additional proof-of-work effort. Merged mining was introduced in 2011 as a boostrapping mechanism for new cryptocurrencies and countermeasures against the fragmentation of mining power across competing systems. Although merged mining has already been adopted by a number of cryptocurrencies, to this date little is known about the effects and implications.
In this thesis, we shed light on this topic area by performing a comprehensive analysis of merged mining in practice. As part of this analysis, we present a block attribution scheme for mining pools to assist in the evaluation of mining centralization. Our findings disclose that mining pools in merge-mined cryptocurrencies have operated at the edge of, and even beyond, the security guarantees offered by the underlying Nakamoto consensus for extended periods. We discuss the implications and security considerations for these cryptocurrencies and the mining ecosystem as a whole, and link our findings to the intended effects of merged mining.

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