The rapid evolution of blockchain technology has brought together
stakeholders from fundamentally different backgrounds. The result is a diverse
ecosystem, as exemplified by the development of a wide range of different
blockchain protocols. This raises questions for decision and policy makers: How
do different protocols compare? What are their trade-offs? Existing efforts to
survey the area reveal a fragmented terminology and the lack of a unified
framework to reason about the properties of blockchain protocols. In this
paper, we work towards bridging this gap. We present a five-dimensional design
space with a modular structure in which protocols can be compared and
understood. Based on these five axes — Optimality, Stability, Efficiency,
Robustness and Persistence — we organize the properties of existing protocols
in subcategories of increasing granularity. The result is a dynamic scheme —
termed the PREStO framework — which aids the interaction between stakeholders
of different backgrounds, including managers and investors, and which enables
systematic reasoning about blockchain protocols. We illustrate its value by
comparing existing protocols and identifying research challenges, hence making
a first step towards understanding the blockchain ecosystem through a more
comprehensive lens.

The rapid evolution of blockchain technology has brought together
stakeholders from fundamentally different backgrounds. The result is a diverse
ecosystem, as exemplified by the development of a wide range of different
blockchain protocols. This raises questions for decision and policy makers: How
do different protocols compare? What are their trade-offs? Existing efforts to
survey the area reveal a fragmented terminology and the lack of a unified
framework to reason about the properties of blockchain protocols. In this
paper, we work towards bridging this gap. We present a five-dimensional design
space with a modular structure in which protocols can be compared and
understood. Based on these five axes — Optimality, Stability, Efficiency,
Robustness and Persistence — we organize the properties of existing protocols
in subcategories of increasing granularity. The result is a dynamic scheme —
termed the PREStO framework — which aids the interaction between stakeholders
of different backgrounds, including managers and investors, and which enables
systematic reasoning about blockchain protocols. We illustrate its value by
comparing existing protocols and identifying research challenges, hence making
a first step towards understanding the blockchain ecosystem through a more
comprehensive lens.

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