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Mind the Gap: Trade-Offs between Distributed Ledger Technology Characteristics

Niclas Kannengiesser, Sebastian Lins, Tobias Dehling, Ali Sunyaev (2019). In arXiv preprint arXiv:1906.00861.

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While design decisions determine the quality and viability of applications in general, in Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), the decision for a suitable DLT design (e.g., Ethereum, IOTA) is of particular relevance because the retroactive change of the underlying DLT design is currently very hard and often even impossible. Extant research has revealed several trade-offs between DLT characteristics (e.g., availability vs. consistency). Such trade-offs inhibit a one-size-fits-all DLT design that suites the requirements of all applications on DLT. For an appropriate assessment of the suitability of DLT designs for a particular application on DLT, researchers and developers require a systematic and holistic overview of the functioning of different DLT designs, including their configuration of DLT characteristics as well as dependencies and resulting trade-offs between DLT characteristics. In this work, we present a comprehensive set of 49 DLT characteristics synthesized from the literature on DLT, which have been found relevant to consider when developing viable applications on DLT. Furthermore, we conducted an in-depth analysis of dependencies and resulting trade-offs between DLT characteristics. Finally, we consolidated the identified 26 trade-offs into 6 archetypes and explain implications for applications on DLT.

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