An Optimally Fair Coin Toss


We address one of the foundational problems in cryptography: the bias of coin-flipping protocols. Coin-flipping protocols allow mutually distrustful parties to generate a common unbiased random bit, guaranteeing that even if one of the parties is malicious, it cannot significantly bias the output of the honest party. A classical result by Cleve [STOC ’86] showed that for any two-party r-round coin-flipping protocol there exists an efficient adversary that can bias the output of the honest party by Ω(1/r). However, the best previously known protocol only guarantees \(O(1/\sqrt{r})\) bias, and the question of whether Cleve’s bound is tight has remained open for more than twenty years.

In this paper we establish the optimal trade-off between the round complexity and the bias of two-party coin-flipping protocols. Under standard assumptions (the existence of oblivious transfer), we show that Cleve’s lower bound is tight: we construct an r-round protocol with bias O(1/r).