Modeling Bitcoin Contracts by Timed Automata Nov 21 2017 14:17 languageMoneyScience
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Marcin Andrychowicz, Stefan Dziembowski, Daniel Malinowski, Łukasz Mazurek
(Submitted on 8 May 2014 (v1), last revised 27 Jun 2014 (this version, v2))
Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer cryptographic currency system. Since its introduction in 2008, Bitcoin has gained noticeable popularity, mostly due to its following properties: (1) the transaction fees are very low, and (2) it is not controlled by any central authority, which in particular means that nobody can "print" the money to generate inflation. Moreover, the transaction syntax allows to create the so-called contracts, where a number of mutually-distrusting parties engage in a protocol to jointly perform some financial task, and the fairness of this process is guaranteed by the properties of Bitcoin. Although the Bitcoin contracts have several potential applications in the digital economy, so far they have not been widely used in real life. This is partly due to the fact that they are cumbersome to create and analyze, and hence risky to use.
In this paper we propose to remedy this problem by using the methods originally developed for the computer-aided analysis for hardware and software systems, in particular those based on the timed automata. More concretely, we propose a framework for modeling the Bitcoin contracts using the timed automata in the UPPAAL model checker. Our method is general and can be used to model several contracts. As a proof-of-concept we use this framework to model some of the Bitcoin contracts from our recent previous work. We then automatically verify their security in UPPAAL, finding (and correcting) some subtle errors that were difficult to spot by the manual analysis. We hope that our work can draw the attention of the researchers working on formal modeling to the problem of the Bitcoin contract verification, and spark off more research on this topic.