title: Mining the Bitcoin Miners
keywords: Bitcoin, formal modelling, data mining, data analysis
topics: Case studies and Applications , Dependability, security and performance
committee: Ansgar Fehnker
started: April 2018


In circulation since 2009, Bitcoin is a well-known cryptocurrency.  Bitcoin's popularity is a result of its capability to eliminate the need for a trusted third party such as a broker or a bank to process payments.   

An essential characteristic of Bitcoin is a distributed ledger. Bitcoin operates using peer-to-peer network generally referred to as peers.  Every peer in the Bitcoin network keeps the collection of all transactions which is referred to as a ledger.  This so-called ledger is organised into separate blocks all which are linked to their immediate predecessor forming a chain.  The protocol uses the proof-of-work solution to induce a unique order on blocks, also known as mining.

The aim of this project is to develop a tool that allows exploring the distributed blockchain and its evolution.  This model should be based on an evaluation of the transaction graphs, blockchain and other publically available information of transactions, bock chain and pools. The evaluation of this data should give a sense of the evolution of the blockchain, including the different views miners in different parts of the network might have, due to the distributed nature of the blockchain.

The project should furthermore develop the appropriate abstractions that make it possible to further analyse the blockchain. These abstractions would enable analysis for the presence of advanced attacks, such as Sybil attacks, selfish mining attacks, or variants of majority attacks.

A prerequisite for this project is knowledge of an affinity to use tools to collect publically available data and make it available for further analysis. Experience with formal modelling tools would be considered an advantage.


  1. Michael Fleder and Michael S. Kester and Sudeep Pillai. Bitcoin Transaction Graph Analysis (Digital version available here)
  2. Ron, Dorit and Shamir, Adi. Quantitative Analysis of the Full Bitcoin Transaction Graph (Digital version available here)
  3. A. Fehnker and K. Chaudhary, Twenty Percent and a Few Days - Optimising a Bitcoin Majority Attack NFM, 2018 (Digital version available here)