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Distributed systems

Distributed systems are, broadly speaking, networked systems whose components are located in different nodes that communicate and coordinate to achieve the system’s purpose. Distributed systems are at the very core of what we do and our interests extend across the entire field. In recent times, we have focused our efforts in the topics of consensus protocols, content-addressed networking, decentralized markets, and distributed data structures.

Related talks

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2021-02-23
Beyond swapping bits
Protocol Labs Research Talks / 2021.02.23
2019-02-02
Consensus hierarchies
ConsensusDay 1 / 2019.02.02 / Stanford, CA, USA
2019-02-02
Expected consensus
ConsensusDay 1 / 2019.02.02 / Stanford, CA, USA
2019-02-02
Mergeable consensus
ConsensusDay 1 / 2019.02.02 / Stanford, CA, USA
2019-02-02
New directions in consensus
ConsensusDay 1 / 2019.02.02 / Stanford, CA, USA
2019-02-02
Single secret leader election
ConsensusDay 1 / 2019.02.02 / Stanford, CA, USA
2018-10-23
IPLD research and future directions
Lab Day 2018 / 2018.10.23 / San Francisco, CA, USA
2018-10-23
PoReps: Proof of space on real data
Lab Day 2018 / 2018.10.23 / San Francisco, CA, USA
2018-02-03
VDFs and Filecoin
VDF Day / 2018.02.03 / Stanford, CA, USA
2018-01-26
Proof of replication using depth robust graphs
BPASE 18 / 2018.01.26 / Stanford, CA, USA

Related publications

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2021-11-23 / Journal article
On the Future of Decentralized Computing
Decentralized systems (e.g., blockchain systems) have the potential to revolutionize financial and payment systems, as well as the internet — for the good of humankind and planet Earth. This position paper aims at justifying this standpoint and at laying out a vision for the future of decentralized computing.
Bulletin of the European Association for Theoretical Computer Science / 2021.11.23
2021-11-16 / Conference paper
Private Attacks in Longest Chain Proof-of-stake Protocols with Single Secret Leader Elections
Single Secret Leader Elections have recently been proposed as an improved leader election mechanism for proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchains. However, the security gain they provide has not been quantified. In this work, we present a comparison of PoS longest-chain protocols that are based on Single Secret Leader Elections (SSLE) - that elect exactly one leader per round - versus those based on Probabilistic Leader Elections (PLE) - where one leader is elected on expectation.
AFT '21: 3rd ACM Conference on Advances in Financial Technologies / 2021.09.28
Sarah Azouvi , Daniele Cappelletti
2021-06-21 / Conference paper
Pulsarcast: Scalable, reliable pub-sub over P2P nets
The publish-subscribe paradigm is a wildly popular form of communication in complex distributed systems. The properties offered by it make it an ideal solution for a multitude of applications, ranging from social media to content streaming and stock exchange platforms.
DI2F / 2021.06.21 / Espoo, Finland
Joao Antunes, David Dias , Luis Veiga
2021-06-21 / Conference paper
The case for AI based Web3 reputation systems
Initiatives such as blockchains and decentralized storage networks are pushing for a decentralized Web3 to replace the current architecture. At the core of Web3 are network resource sharing services, which allow anyone to sell spare network capacity in return for rewards.
DI2F / 2021.06.21 / Espoo, Finland
Navin V. Keizer, Fan Yang, Yiannis Psaras , George Pavlou
2021-06-11 / Conference paper
IPFS-FAN: A Function-Addressable Computation Network
Permissionless computation is one of the missing pieces in the web3 stack in order to have all the tools needed to “decentralise Internet services”. There are already proposals to embed computation in decentralised networks like smart contracts, or blockchain networks for computational offloading.
DI2F / 2021.06.21 / Espoo, Finland
2021-01-14 / Report
Accelerating content routing with Bitswap: A multi-path file transfer protocol in IPFS and Filecoin
Bitswap is a Block Exchange protocol designed for P2P Content Addressable Networks. It leverages merkle-linked graphs in order to parallelize retrieval and verify content integrity. Bitswap is being used in the InterPlanetary File System architecture as the main content exchange protocol, as well as in the Filecoin network as part of the block synchronisation protocol.
2020-12-07 / Conference paper
PASTRAMI: Privacy-preserving, auditable, scalable & trustworthy auctions for multiple items
Decentralised cloud computing platforms enable individuals to offer and rent resources in a peer-to-peer fashion. They must assign resources from multiple sellers to multiple buyers and derive prices that match the interests and capacities of both parties.
Middleware '20 / 2020.12.07
Michał Król, Alberto Sonnino, Argyrios Tasiopoulos, Yiannis Psaras , Etienne Rivière
2020-12-05 / Report
Incrementally aggregatable vector commitment techniques and applications to verifiable decentralized storage
Vector commitments with subvector openings (SVC) [Lai-Malavolta, Boneh-Bunz-Fisch; CRYPTO’19] allow one to open a committed vector at a set of positions with an opening of size independent of both the vector’s length and the number of opened positions.
Advances in Cryptology – ASIACRYPT 2020 / 2020.12.05
Matteo Campanelli, Dario Fiore, Nicola Greco , Dimitris Kolonelos, Luca Nizzardo
2020-10-11 / Conference paper
Rewarding relays for decentralised NAT traversal using smart contracts
Traversing NAT’s remains a big issue in P2P networks, and many of the previously proposed solutions are incompatible with truly decentralised emerging applications. Such applications need a decentralised NAT traversal solution without trusted centralised servers.
Mobihoc '20 / 2020.10.11
Navin V. Keizer, Onur Ascigil, Yiannis Psaras , George Pavlou
2020-07-06 / Report
GossipSub: Attack-resilient message propagation in the Filecoin and ETH2.0 networks
Permissionless blockchain environments necessitate the use of a fast and attack-resilient message propagation protocol for Block and Transaction messages to keep nodes synchronised and avoid forks. We present GossipSub, a gossip-based pubsub protocol, which, in contrast to past pubsub protocols, incorporates resilience against a wide spectrum of attacks.
Dimitris Vyzovitis, Yusef Napora, Dirk McCormick, David Dias , Yiannis Psaras
2020-04-27 /
Merkle-CRDTs: Merkle-DAGs meet CRDTs
We study Merkle-DAGs as a transport and persistence layer for Conflict-Free Replicated Data Types (CRDTs), coining the term Merkle-CRDTs and providing an overview of the different concepts, properties, advantages and limitations involved.
Hector Sanjuan, Samuli Poyhtari, Pedro Teixeira, Yiannis Psaras
2020-04-18 / Report
Gossipsub-v1.1 evaluation report
Permissionless blockchain environments necessitate the use of a fast and attack-resilient message propagation protocol for Block and Transaction messages to keep nodes synchronised and avoid forks. We present GossipSub, a gossip-based pubsub protocol, which, in contrast to past pubsub protocols, incorporates resilience against a wide spectrum of attacks.
Dimitris Vyzovitis, Yusef Napora, Dirk McCormick, David Dias , Yiannis Psaras
2020-03-30 / Conference paper
Censorship-resistant web annotations based on Ethereum and IPFS
Flooded by the propagation of false or biased news in the Web, people tend to resort to social networks to read posts from reliable sources, exchange commentaries with trustworthy parties, access first-hand content, or cross-check information that appears in news outlets.
SAC 2020 / 2020.03.30 / Brno, Czech Republic
João Santos, Nuno Santos, David Dias
2018-10-15 / Report
Scaling proof-of-replication for Filecoin mining
A proof-of-replication (PoRep) is a proof system that a server can use to demonstrate to a network in a publicly verifiable way that it is dedicating unique resources to storing one or more replicas of a data file.
2018-07-14 / Report
PoReps: Proofs of space on useful data
A proof-of-replication (PoRep) is an interactive proof system in which a prover defends a publicly verifiable claim that it is dedicating unique resources to storing one or more retrievable replicas of a data file.
2017-07-27 / Report
Power fault tolerance
Byzantine Fault Tolerance (BFT) accounts for faults as the number of faulty nodes and is thus cumbersome to apply to many modern decentralized systems. We introduce the Power Fault Tolerance (PFT) model, which reframes BFT in terms of participants' influence over the outcome of a protocol, instead of the number of nodes.
Protocol Labs
2017-07-27 / Report
Proof of replication
We introduce Proof-of-Replication (PoRep), a new kind of Proof-of-Storage, that can be used to prove that some data D has been replicated to its own uniquely dedicated physical storage. Enforcing unique physical copies enables a verifier to check that a prover is not deduplicating multiple copies of D into the same storage space.
2017-07-19 / Report
Filecoin: A decentralized storage network
The internet is in the middle of a revolution: centralized proprietary services are being replaced with decentralized open ones; trusted parties replaced with verifiable computation; brittle location addresses replaced with resilient content addresses; inefficient monolithic services replaced with peer-to-peer algo-rithmic markets.
Protocol Labs
2016-05-25 / Tutorial
Distributed web applications with IPFS
The contents of this document describe the tutorial session delivered at ICWE 2016, focused on Building Distributed Web Applications with IPFS. IPFS, the InterPlanetary File System, is the distributed and permanent Web, a protocol to make the Web faster, more secure and open.
16th International Conference on Web Engineering (ICWE) / 2016.05.25 / Lugano, Switzerland
2014-07-15 / Report
Filecoin: A cryptocurrency operated file storage network
Filecoin is a distributed electronic currency similar to Bitcoin. Unlike Bitcoin’s computation-only proof-of-work, Filecoin’s proof-of-work function includes a proof-of-retrievability component, which requires nodes to prove they store a particular file. The Filecoin network forms an entirely distributed file storage system, whose nodes are incentivized to store as much of the entire network’s data as they can.
Protocol Labs
2014-07-14 / Report
IPFS - Content addressed, versioned, P2P file system
The InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) is a peer-to-peer distributed file system that seeks to connect all computing devices with the same system of files. In some ways, IPFS is similar to the Web, but IPFS could be seen as a single BitTorrent swarm, exchanging objects within one Git repository.

Related posts

View all posts
2021-11-30 / News, Team
ConsensusLab welcomes Lefteris Kokoris-Kogias as an external collaborator
We are pleased to welcome Lefteris Kokoris-Kogias as an external collaborator on ConsensusLab projects. Lefteris is an assistant professor at IST Austria, where he leads the Secure, Private, and Decentralized Systems (SPiDerS) group.
2021-11-28 / News, Team
Vivien Quéma joins PL Research as an advisor to ConsensusLab
We are happy to announce that Vivien Quéma will be joining PL Research’s ConsensusLab as a research advisor. Vivien is a Professor of Computer Science at Grenoble INP and a member of the LIG laboratory.
2021-10-29 / News, Events
ConsensusDays 21 recap and recordings
It was a calm day in early August when we launched a call for contributions for ConsensusDay 21, the launch event for our ConsensusLab. Originally intended to be an intimate, one-day virtual workshop aiming to foster discussion of consensus research and bootstrap a collaboration network, it soon became clear that it was growing beyond our wildest expectations – and certainly beyond what we had planned and were prepared to accommodate.
2021-09-28 / News, Events
Announcing the ConsensusDays 21 program
After a two-week review marathon, we’re happy to announce the exciting program for ConsensusDays 21. The workshop will take place 6-7 October (next week!) in the 14:00-20:00 UTC period. We were overwhelmed by the number and quality of talk proposals, and many decisions ended up coming down to program limitations and session planning rather than quality alone.
2021-09-14 / News, Events
ConsensusDay becomes ConsensusDays 21
We would like to thank all authors for the overwhelming response to the call for contributions. We are delighted by the quality and number of submissions received, which already required us to expand our review team.
2021-08-03 / News, Events
ConsensusDay 21: call for contributions
It was only last week that we announced the launch of ConsensusLab, a new Protocol Labs research group focused on scalable consensus for decentralised systems. Looking to drive more focused research into the topic, we are now inviting you to participate in our first public event, ConsensusDay 21.
2021-07-30 / News
ConsensusLab: supercharging our consensus research
We are excited to announce the launch of ConsensusLab, a new research group focused on scalable consensus for decentralised systems and a part of Protocol Labs Research. Consensus — loosely defined as global agreement on the state of a decentralised network across its mutually untrusting participants — has been known to be at the heart of decentralised systems ever since the inception of Nakamoto’s Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus.
2021-07-21 / News, Events
Decentralising the Internet with IPFS and Filecoin (DI2F) — a report from the trenches
The first edition of the DI2F Workshop, which took place on 21 June 2021 and focused on decentralising the Internet with IPFS and Filecoin, has been a phenomenal success! We received more than 20 submissions, out of which 11 were selected to be presented on the day (scroll down to the three sections at the bottom of this page for the full text).
2021-06-08
ResNetLab on Tour in Australia
On May 5th, ResNetLab participated in a flagship event involving four major Australian universities — Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), University of New South Wales, Australian National University and Macquarie University — and lots of Web 3.
2021-06-08
ResNetLab presents Beyond Bitswap at Codemotion '21
ResNetLab was delighted to accept an invitation to talk about Bitswap and the outcomes of our Beyond Bitswap project at the Spanish Edition of the Codemotion conference. The invitation was then extended to the English edition of the conference, which took place at the end of May.
2021-06-02 / Blog
ResNetLab presentations at Devfolio's ETH India 2021 Fellowship
Hot off the heels of ETHDenver, the largest Ethereum community event in North America, the Devfolio team who ran the hackathon platform for the event asked if we’d be interested in doing an IPFS training for another of their programs: the Devfolio Ethereum India Fellowship.
2021-05-24 / News
Call for Participation: DI2F: Decentralizing the Internet with IPFS and Filecoin
The first edition of a research-focused workshop on decentralisation, IPFS, and Filecoin is here! DI2F is taking place alongside IFIP Networking 2021 on 21 June 2021 and has a packed programme full of interesting paper presentations, demos, abstracts, hands-on tutorials and invited talks!
2021-05-13 / News
ResNetLab on Tour: [email protected]
We were delighted to present our brand new ResNetLab on Tour programme to the vibrant community of the Berkeley’s Blockchain Innovation Hub on April 28th and 29th! The ResNetLab on Tour programme is a one-stop-shop for all things IPFS and Web 3.
2021-04-06 / News
ResNetLab on Tour tutorials go on-demand
We started the ResNetLab on Tour programme in late 2019 with the goal of onboarding the research and academic community to the IPFS architecture and the interesting open problems and research directions associated with the decentralisation of internet services.
2021-03-16 / Talks
Protocol Labs at FOSDEM 2021
FOSDEM is one of the biggest events for software developers building open-source software. Founded in 2000, the conference takes place once a year in Brussels, gathering over 8000 developers, hackers, and engineers from across the spectrum of software development.
2021-03-03 / News, Team
ResNetLab welcomes Barath Raghavan as a research advisor
We are pleased to announce that Barath Raghavan will be working with ResNetLab as an advisor. Barath is a professor of computer science at USC, where he co-leads the networked systems lab and conducts research across the fields of core networked systems, computing for social good and sustainability, and security.
2021-02-11 / Talks
IEEE GLOBECOM 2020 - The InterPlanetary File System and the Filecoin Network
IEEE Globecom is one of the flagship IEEE ComSoc conferences in the field of networks and communications – and, with over 2000 attendees, one of the largest conferences in the field.
2021-02-03 / Event
Decentralising the Internet with IPFS and Filecoin (DI2F) workshop at IFIP Networking 2021: Call for Contributions
Since the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) was first introduced in a 2014 whitepaper, interest from the research community on improving and building on its protocol stack has been steadily growing. A search for “IPFS networking” on Google Scholar now returns over 1500 results, and that is just a fraction of the relevant publications.
2021-01-20 / Blog
ResNetLab 2020 in review: we love it when a plan comes together
We hope you spent some fantastic time with your loved ones during the holiday season. With the time to pause, rest, and reflect – and with the goal of kicking off 2021 in the best way possible – we decided to capture ResNetLab’s 2020 highlights, share what we’ve learned, and describe what we will be focusing on in 2021.
2021-01-11 / Blog
Beyond Swapping Bits: project review (and preview!)
If you have been following along for the past three months (1, 2, 3, 4), you know that we in ResNetLab started the Beyond Bitswap project with one goal in mind: to drive speed-ups for file-sharing in IPFS.
2021-01-01 / Blog
Our Bitswap nodes have become “jumping inspectors” (updated)
A few weeks ago, we shared how we have taught our Bitswap nodes to jump. If you recall from that post, the content discovery range extension gained came at the expense of an increased number of duplicate blocks exchanged in the network.
2020-12-10 / Blog
Teaching Bitswap nodes to jump
By now you may have heard about ResNetLab’s research endeavour to drive speed-ups on file transfers: Beyond Swapping Bits. Our recent blog post, “Honey, I shrunk our libp2p streams”, considers how adding compression to libp2p could lead to significant bandwidth savings.
2020-11-25 / Talks
IEEE/IFIP CNSM 2020 - The InterPlanetary File System and the Filecoin Network
ResNetLab was invited to present a 3.5 hour tutorial at one of the biggest conferences in the “NetMan” community, the 16th International Conference on Network and Service Management. We were impressed by the quality of talks, keynotes, workshops, and tutorials presented during the conference.
2020-11-23 / Blog
A research perspective on Filecoin, part two
In Part One, we traced the intellectual and technological history of modern implementations of distributed ledger technology. Now let’s take a stroll through the technological landscape around the time of Filecoin’s release:
2020-11-16 / Blog
A research perspective on Filecoin
The Filecoin network is launching in the middle of a revolution in internet architecture, where vulnerable centralized services dependent on trusted parties are being replaced with resilient decentralized solutions based on verifiable computation, and internet services are being relocated from inefficient central monoliths to the far reaches of the network by peer-to-peer markets.
2020-11-03 / Blog
"Two ears, one mouth": how to leverage bitswap chatter for faster transfers
As part of ResNetLab’s research endeavour to drive speed-ups on file transfers, Beyond Swapping Bits, we present a new contribution to IPFS Bitswap protocol. We argue that Bitswap is currently discarding a wealth of information that could be used to its benefit, improving retrieval success and minimizing the latency to retrieve content.
2020-10-29 / Blog
Honey, I shrunk our libp2p streams
Today we’re excited to share the story of how we decided to explore compression for libp2p streams and ended up achieving up to a 75% decrease in bandwidth use when performing an IPFS file exchange.
2020-10-13 / News, Grants
Meet the latest Protocol Labs Research Grant recipients
In January of 2020, the Resilient Networks Lab (ResNetLab) launched two RFPs (Requests for Proposals) to address pressing open problems faced by IPFS and libp2p, namely, Routing at Scale and PubSub at Scale.
2020-10-06 / Blog
GossipSub: An attack-resilient messaging-layer protocol for public blockchains
Securing permissionless networks is the bane of open networks, starting with the Internet and every overlay network that operates over it. This challenge has existed from the early days of the Internet to the current Web 3.
2020-09-18 / Blog
A brief history of (re)building the Internet
The Internet began life as a military network engineered for resilience in the face of a nuclear attack. That’s right—the same network you use to check on your friends and share cat photos has at its core a structural pattern intended to survive a nuclear exchange long enough to mutually assure destruction with the USSR.
2020-07-01 / Talks
IEEE/IFIP DSN 2020 - The InterPlanetary File System and the Filecoin Network
ResNetLab was invited to present “The InterPlanetary File System and the Filecoin Network” in a 3-hour tutorial at the IEEE/IFIP International Conference on Dependable Systems and Networks! The conference, now in its 50th edition, has an established track record of top-quality research contributions, and is one of the oldest conferences in its subject area.
2020-06-08 / Talks
IPFS talk at the IRTF Decentralised Internet Infrastructure Research Group meeting
ResNetLab was invited to meet with the Decentralised Internet Infrastructure Research Group (DINRG) of the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) to present and discuss the Software Architecture of the IPFS protocol.
2020-05-18 / Talks
NDN Seminar: a high-level overview of the InterPlanetary File System
ResNetLab was invited to present the “High-Level Overview of the IPFS Architecture” to the Named Data Networking consortium!
2020-05-07 / Talks
Next Generation Networks (NGN) group talk: A high-level overview of the InterPlanetary File System
The Next Generation Networks (NGN) group recently invited the Resilient Networks Lab (ResNetLab) to present a tutorial on IPFS. NGN is a vibrant group of academics, industry researchers and engineers working in the general area of — you guessed it — next-generation networks.
2020-05-03 / Talks
IEEE ICBC 2020: The InterPlanetary File System and the Filecoin Network
ResNetLab presented at one of the most prominent conferences in the area of Distributed Ledger Technologies: the IEEE International Conference on Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies! IEEE ICBC 2020 took place remotely, was well-attended, and had an exciting programme both in terms of tutorials during the first day and invited talks during the main conference, where Vitalik Buterin delivered the keynote speech.
2020-04-17 / Talks
Gossipsub v1.1 at 'Open Tech Will Save Us' virtual event
ResNetLab was present at Open Tech Will Save Us virtual meetup, an event organized by the Matrix.org team during which participants could watch a live stream provided by Jitsi and ask questions using the Matrix protocol (often through a client like Riot).
2020-02-25 / News, Team
Yiannis Psaras joins Protocol Labs Research
Yiannis (Ioannis) is joining the Resilient Networks Lab, which he helped get off the ground after becoming an advisor to PL in July 2019. Yiannis is currently a fellow of the United Kingdom’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and a Lecturer at University College London, where he has worked on a number of topics within the broad field of networking, with a significant focus on Information-Centric Networking (ICN).
2020-02-18 / News, Team
Sarah Azouvi joins Protocol Labs Research
Sarah joins us from the Information Security Group at University College London, where she did research on consensus and worked towards her forthcoming PhD in Computer Science. During her studies, she collaborated with Protocol Labs and was also an intern at Calibra.
2020-01-27 / News, Team
Luca Nizzardo’s thesis wins UPM Extraordinary Award
Source: IMDEA Software Institute. Posted here with permission. Luca Nizzardo was a PhD student of the IMDEA Software Institute and his thesis “Cryptographic Techniques for the Security of Cloud and Blockchain Systems” defended in 2018 was directed by Associate Professor Dario Fiore.
2019-12-30 / News
A new lab for resilient networks research
Resiliency is at the core of systems that are capable of standing the test of time, providing unshakable access for the many generations to come. A resilient system or network is fundamentally uncompromised by an isolated failure or network split.