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Author Topic: Could Mining Be Useful?  (Read 1409 times)
JohnnyCash
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January 22, 2012, 12:17:57 PM
 #1

One thing that bothers me about bitcoins is that the raw calculations of mining don't do anything but unlock bitcoins.

Is there any way to design a crypto currency that's unlocked by performing useful calculations? Something along the lines of folding @ home, where in addition to enriching yourself you're also performing useful math?
The Bitcoin network protocol was designed to be extremely flexible. It can be used to create timed transactions, escrow transactions, multi-signature transactions, etc. The current features of the client only hint at what will be possible in the future.
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January 22, 2012, 12:37:31 PM
 #2

Bitcoin signature blocks are useful for many things that use secure signatures and open ledgers, amongst other things. There are many apps in development.

Any significantly advanced cryptocurrency is indistinguishable from Ponzi Tulips.
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January 22, 2012, 12:39:55 PM
 #3

But you ARE performing useful math - not only does mining "unlock bitcoins" as you put it but it also keeps the whole bitcoin universe secure.

As to your question, of course there are ways block chain hashing can be combined with other useful applications.
Care to come up with and implement one?
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January 22, 2012, 05:47:27 PM
 #4

But you ARE performing useful math - not only does mining "unlock bitcoins" as you put it but it also keeps the whole bitcoin universe secure.

As to your question, of course there are ways block chain hashing can be combined with other useful applications.
Care to come up with and implement one?

How could it be combined with other useful applications? Would there be a way of assigning problems to a mining network so that they earn bitcoins (or another currency) by solving specific math problems?  But also to avoid having one central authority in control, make it so problems and rewards aren't assigned by one central authority but somehow built into the coin's code or controllable by anyone with the currency?
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January 22, 2012, 07:03:52 PM
 #5

Well, here's an idea I had. I'm not sure how technically feasible it is. I'm calling it Data Coins.

In this system people would still mine to generate new datacoins. But instead of having purposeless calculations to mine new coins, people who already possess datacoins would be able to destroy them to determine what the proof of work is.

"Burning" datacoins would allow you to upload a math problem to the network, and all mining computers would begin working on it. To get new coins they wouldn't have to actually solve your problem, but just prove that a certain amount of processing power was spent on it. That way a difficult or impossible wouldn't shut the network down.

You would only receive a limited amount of processing power for each coin, and once the network performs that much work on your problem it would stop doing it. For example, if you burn 1,000 datacoins you're entitled to 1,000 times as much work as someone who burns 1 datacoin.

The work required to generate a coin by working on a problem would be equal to the work you can then destroy the coin to claim. So essentially Data Coins would be a way of trading rights to calculations. The value that would back them is the worth of those calculations to universities, governments, and corporations. For example, if MIT wants to run a simulation they could buy $100,000 USD of datacoins, then burn them to rent out a powerful distributed computing network.
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January 22, 2012, 11:32:48 PM
 #6

Bitcoin mining is useful. It would be great if it could do X, Y, Z or get me a drink at no extra cost, but how?

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January 22, 2012, 11:45:58 PM
 #7

I could burn coins to make more coins. Also, i can submit the same solutions multiple times.

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January 23, 2012, 02:20:21 AM
 #8

Well, I imagine it'd work more or less the same as bitcoin. Except you'd need some way of tagging math problems with your coin's key, and then tracking who works on that problem and how much work they do.

The challenge in that is how to divorce it from some central authority. Sure, you could have some overseer note that these computers each did this much work, and then split the coins up among them. But what you'd need to do is somehow make the overseer a network of all the computers running datacoin.

So the way the process would work is:

Step 1 - Data Coins are initially generated through pointless math (they can always be generated through pointless math, but the code deliberately makes performing useful math more profitable)

Step 2 - People who want calculations performed burn their data coins, and destroying the coin entitles them to upload a math problem to the network of datacoin users.

Step 3 - Miners' machines start contributing to pending problems. As they solve the problem their progress is passed around and compared with other datacoin users, who log who performs work and how much they do. Usually each problem is being worked on by many miners, and each miner is performing a little bit of work on many different problems simultaneously.

Step 4 - Once a certain amount of work is performed and confirmed coins are delivered to the miners.

Step 5 - The completed data is posted to the network (if possible in encrypted form so only the original poster can understand it)

There would be no point to burning datacoins to hire others to mine datacoins for you, since the amount of coins you'd receive would be equal to the coins you spend. Also there should be additional safeguards to prevent people from assigning pointless tasks to the network like this, just to be malicious. For example, perhaps burning datacoins would incur a slight loss, a usage fee, so that the work you can buy with a coin is 99% that of the work it takes to make a coin.


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January 23, 2012, 02:29:03 AM
 #9

what would prevent me sending junk as an answer?
what would prevent the asker to mark correct answers as junk to gain more computing power?
how much computing power does 1 coin give you?
how do i prove that i actually invested a certain amount computing power into solving the problem? the difficulty of real life problems is not predictable. some could turn out to be unsolvable.

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January 23, 2012, 02:33:36 AM
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Well, I imagine it'd work more or less the same as bitcoin. Except you'd need some way of tagging math problems with your coin's key, and then tracking who works on that problem and how much work they do.

The challenge in that is how to divorce it from some central authority. Sure, you could have some overseer note that these computers each did this much work, and then split the coins up among them. But what you'd need to do is somehow make the overseer a network of all the computers running datacoin.

So the way the process would work is:

Step 1 - Data Coins are initially generated through pointless math (they can always be generated through pointless math, but the code deliberately makes performing useful math more profitable)

Step 2 - People who want calculations performed burn their data coins, and destroying the coin entitles them to upload a math problem to the network of datacoin users.

Step 3 - Miners' machines start contributing to pending problems. As they solve the problem their progress is passed around and compared with other datacoin users, who log who performs work and how much they do. Usually each problem is being worked on by many miners, and each miner is performing a little bit of work on many different problems simultaneously.

Step 4 - Once a certain amount of work is performed and confirmed coins are delivered to the miners.

Step 5 - The completed data is posted to the network (if possible in encrypted form so only the original poster can understand it)

There would be no point to burning datacoins to hire others to mine datacoins for you, since the amount of coins you'd receive would be equal to the coins you spend. Also there should be additional safeguards to prevent people from assigning pointless tasks to the network like this, just to be malicious. For example, perhaps burning datacoins would incur a slight loss, a usage fee, so that the work you can buy with a coin is 99% that of the work it takes to make a coin.




How exactly do you "prove" how much work you have completed.

Do you realize the proof of work serves a crititical role in Bitcoin network.  It allows the network to acheive consensus.

Your solution is fail starting at the premise that the work is "useless".  If a bank hires a security guard and the bank ISN'T robbed was the security guard useless?

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JohnnyCash
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January 23, 2012, 03:14:03 AM
 #11

what would prevent me sending junk as an answer?
what would prevent the asker to mark correct answers as junk to gain more computing power?
how much computing power does 1 coin give you?
how do i prove that i actually invested a certain amount computing power into solving the problem? the difficulty of real life problems is not predictable. some could turn out to be unsolvable.


Your work would be compared to work being performed by other computers. If your answers conflict with other people's results then the network would reject your answer and you'd get nothing.

The asker has no ability to reject or approve answers. That determination is made by a consensus among all datacoin users. Once the asker burns their coins they have no power over what happens, they just get a result. The asker can't choose to withhold payment.

The computing power 1 coin gives you would be slightly less (1%ish less) than the computing power required to get a coin. The exact amount of computing assigned to each coin doesn't really matter for the concept to work, since if it's less valuable people will just collect/trade/burn larger quantities but use it the same way.

The amount of calculations each coin would give you would never change, although as computers get more advanced and calculations cheaper to do the value of the currency would gradually decline over time. This inflation would be slow and predictable though, since it's tied to progress in computer engineering, not to some government printing coins.

It doesn't matter whether you solve the problem or not. The asker is not guaranteed a satisfactory result, only that they'll have a certain amount of computing power devoted to their problem. The network wouldn't care whether or not miners solve the problem, just that the work they report cross checks with other people's work to prove they're not sending in false answers.

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January 23, 2012, 03:25:43 AM
 #12

you haven't answered this:
how do i prove that i actually invested a certain amount computing power into solving the problem?

for example:
I could get 100/1000 miners (even with the same pc, just a script that sends some junk over and over again pretending to be different clients) submit the same wrong answer and claim it took 100GHash/s
they will be a majority on that specific problem
and the asker isnt allowed to reject the answer


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January 23, 2012, 03:26:51 AM
 #13

I understand the frustration on not being able to do anything with the hashes to put towards anything else, but if it's putting the work of the processors towards it's own security devices, then that's how their system works.

Would be nice if I could use a hybrid miner client that puts CPU on Folding@Home, and GPU on Bitcoin, or since I have a Nvidia card, be able to get the ~10 MH I would from that and divert the rest to Boinc or Folding.
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January 23, 2012, 03:48:32 AM
 #14

Certainly task specific equipment will one day be designed to support the Bitcoin network with great efficiency. It will probaly be at first owned only by banks and governments so they get the lion's share of Bitcoin.

Any significantly advanced cryptocurrency is indistinguishable from Ponzi Tulips.
JohnnyCash
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January 23, 2012, 04:01:28 AM
 #15

you haven't answered this:
how do i prove that i actually invested a certain amount computing power into solving the problem?

for example:
I could get 100/1000 miners (even with the same pc, just a script that sends some junk over and over again pretending to be different clients) submit the same wrong answer and claim it took 100GHash/s
they will be a majority on that specific problem
and the asker isnt allowed to reject the answer



What would prevent fraud is that each person would only be working on a few random parts of any given problem. Every problem would be broken into many operations, and those would be divided randomly among miners.

Each miner would be solving a completely unique group of problem-parts. Nobody would be able to solve the entirety of the problem on their own since that would require too much power. Instead they'd just start working on a random group of problem-parts, and be reward for the ones they solve first.

For example, person 1 might be solving problem parts A, F, G. Person 2 might be solving problem parts C, F, T. Person 1 solves part F first and gets the reward for that part. But their work is double checked against Person 2's answer for F. If enough people confirm person A's answer the network sends out a solved signal, and nobody else continues to work on that problem.

Now let's see what happens if someone tries to fraudulently claim credit for solving F. They set up a script that sends a huge number of signals falsely claiming F as correctly solved by them, outnumbering all the machines legitimately solving F. That could be a problem.

So to prevent that, submitting each answer should require a tiny bit of proof of work on a useless math problem. Something less taxing than normal bitcoin mining, but something that can really add up if you spam lots of false signals. So someone can only submit a false answer for F if they devote more processing power towards submitting false F answers than everyone else answering for F.
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January 23, 2012, 04:19:38 AM
 #16

I don't see any reasons why it aint useful.

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January 23, 2012, 04:45:18 AM
 #17

Quote
Every problem would be broken into many operations, and those would be divided randomly among miners.
not every problem is dividable. and if they are - you have no way of predicting how much computing power each piece requires - even on average
you need a way to predictably quantisize a unit of work. in bitcoin the difficulty + constant hash algorithm make sure a certain amount of work is needed.

Quote
For example, person 1 might be solving problem parts A, F, G. Person 2 might be solving problem parts C, F, T. Person 1 solves part F first and gets the reward for that part. But their work is double checked against Person 2's answer for F. If enough people confirm person A's answer the network sends out a solved signal, and nobody else continues to work on that problem.
1) why would anyone continue working on it after the first "solved" indication - its not profitable for them
2) only the fastest solvers will get a reward
3) what if some of the parts are unsolvable\infinite

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January 23, 2012, 05:09:14 AM
 #18

Quote
Every problem would be broken into many operations, and those would be divided randomly among miners.
not every problem is dividable. and if they are - you have no way of predicting how much computing power each piece requires - even on average
you need a way to predictably quantisize a unit of work. in bitcoin the difficulty + constant hash algorithm make sure a certain amount of work is needed.

People would only submit problems that could be broken down. It doesn't have to be useful for every kind of problem, just ones that lend themselves to distributive computing.

It might be the responsibility of the asker to break the problem down themselves, and submit each unit to the network separately for a fraction of a coin apiece.

It should be possible to estimate how much it'll cost to solve a given problem. We're talking about professional research labs buying distributive computing for their work, they should have at least a general idea how much work it'll take.

For example, person 1 might be solving problem parts A, F, G. Person 2 might be solving problem parts C, F, T. Person 1 solves part F first and gets the reward for that part. But their work is double checked against Person 2's answer for F. If enough people confirm person A's answer the network sends out a solved signal, and nobody else continues to work on that problem.
1) why would anyone continue working on it after the first "solved" indication - its not profitable for them
2) only the fastest solvers will get a reward
3) what if some of the parts are unsolvable\infinite
[/quote]

1) The network wouldn't receive a solved signal until several people submit their work. So you wouldn't know whether it's solved or not yet.

2) Yep. It's basically like a lottery. Each problem is devoted into many little prizes. The more computing power you devote to it, the more entries you get. Everyone will be lose most of the lotteries they're working on, which is the plan. The idea is you enter thousands or millions of lotteries, and earn coins just from the small percentage that you win.

3) Your calculations don't have to solve the problem, just be accurate. As long as other people also got the same worthless result, then you can win the prize.
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January 23, 2012, 05:12:30 AM
 #19

It could be a problem where the answer is brute forced similar to mining-in that way, rewards could be like pool mining, and everyone is rewarded proportionally to the work they did.
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January 23, 2012, 05:16:01 AM
 #20

It could be a problem where the answer is brute forced similar to mining-in that way, rewards could be like pool mining, and everyone is rewarded proportionally to the work they did.

Yeah, that could work.

Essentially it would be bitcoin. Just the network would be more advanced in that it can accept and integrate new user submitted math problems, and allow you to earn coins for doing that math instead of random proof of work.
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