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Bitcoin: Did you ever ask yourself why ...
6 points by petar 2406 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 12 comments
... you cannot find a single paper, published in even a semi-prestigious venue, in the academic literature?

You don't believe me? Go to Google Scholar and try for yourself.

Well. It's because Bitcoins are not at all a spectacular idea. The Bitcoin system is vulnerable to some of the most well known attack classes, in particular the Sybil Attack, which is most likely the reason why no professional algorithm designer/scientist has ever bothered writing a commentary, much less a paper, about them.

I'm reading the definition of Sybil attack... but I do not understand how multiple accounts per user could damage the platform. Do you mind to extend a little your point?

Def: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sybil_attack

One attack that was discussed by an economist (in an article I saw on HN) was an attack based on inserting multiple malicious bank servers.

I'm surprised to see you take this position. How many papers were published about BitTorrent in the early years? Not too many that I remember. I also disagree that Bitcoin's flaws are so obvious that it's not even worth writing them down (and I disagree with that attitude in general, since there are many people in the world who can't figure out obvious things for themselves).

Yes, but this is not my attitude. This is the attitude of the entire Computer Science community. That's my point. No one seems to have pointed this out before.

David Chaum has published many papers on digital cash:


As well as several patents:


None of which seems to have anything to do with Bitcoin.

How about the original: http://www.bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf?

Would you care to explain how a Sybil attack applies? There are no identities nor any kind of reputation system in bitcoin.

Of course there are. The identities and "distributed part" has to do with the servers that keep record of things in Bitcoin. In fact, a few months ago an economist wrote an article (which was here on HN) that described how the protocol among the "bank" servers in Bitcoin can be broken if there is a coalition of other "bank" servers that choose deviate. This was, in Computer Science terms, one expression of a Sybil Attack.

You should check Wikipedia for the background on Sybil Attacks.

Oh, and, the original Bitcoin paper -- I don't believe is published in a venue that is well known (or even known).

I'm definitely not in the anti-college crowd, but I'd have to say that academia isn't the final judge over tech ideas. Plenty of great ideas start outside of that realm. Not to say that Bitcoin is or isn't a good idea.

To this meta comment, my response is: It is true that some good ideas rise from non-academics. However, if you have an extensive view on academic literature you will also know that any idea that enters the spotlight (like Bitcoin) usually gets picked up by the academic community and gets examined. This never happened to Bitcoin.

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