Selfish Mining in Proof-of-Work Blockchain with Multiple Miners: An Empirical Evaluation

  • Tin LeelavimolsilpEmail author
  • Viet Nguyen
  • Sebastian Stein
  • Long Tran-Thanh
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11873)


Proof-of-Work blockchain, despite its numerous benefits, is still not an entirely secure technology due to the existence of Selfish Mining (SM) strategies that can disrupt the system and its mining economy. While the effect of SM has been studied mostly in a two-miners scenario, it has not been investigated in a more practical context where there are multiple malicious miners individually performing SM. To fill this gap, we carry out an empirical study that separately accounts for different numbers of SM miners (who always perform SM) and strategic miners (who choose either SM or Nakamoto’s mining protocol depending on which maximises their individual mining reward). Our result shows that SM is generally more effective as the number of SM miners increases, however its effectiveness does not vary in the presence of a large number of strategic miners. Under specific mining power distributions, we also demonstrate that multiple miners can perform SM and simultaneously gain higher mining rewards than they should. Surprisingly, we also show that the more strategic miners there are, the more robust the systems become. Since blockchain miners should naturally be seen as self-interested strategic miners, our findings encourage blockchain system developers and engineers to attract as many miners as possible to prevent SM and similar behaviour.


Selfish mining Proof-of-Work blockchain Agent-based model Empirical multiplayer game 



The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from the EPSRC Doctoral Training Partnership, and the use of IRIDIS High Performance Computing Facility at the University of Southampton. We also would like to express our gratitude to all anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tin Leelavimolsilp
    • 1
    Email author
  • Viet Nguyen
    • 2
  • Sebastian Stein
    • 1
  • Long Tran-Thanh
    • 1
  1. 1.University of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK
  2. 2.Imperial College LondonLondonUK

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