DISTRIBUTED LEDGER TECHNOLOGY SYSTEMS A Conceptual Framework

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DISTRIBUTED LEDGER TECHNOLOGY SYSTEMS A Conceptual Framework
DISTRIBUTED LEDGER TECHNOLOGY SYSTEMS A Conceptual Framework

Section 1: Introduction

RATIONALE
The concept of distributed ledger technology (DLT) existed before Bitcoin and blockchain technology. The Byzantine Generals Problem theorised by Lamport et al. (1982) described how ‘computer systems must handle […] conflicting information’ in an adversarial environment. Subsequent research led to the emergence of the first algorithm for ‘highly available systems that tolerate Byzantine faults’ with little increase in latency (Castro & Liskov, 2002). The earliest identified occurrences of the concept of a ‘blockchain’ can be traced back to Haber & Stornetta (1991) and Bayer et al. (1992). They introduced the notion of a chain of cryptographically-linked data blocks to efficiently and securely timestamp digital data in distributed systems using cryptographic hashing functions and Merkle trees.

However, these developments attracted little attention in contrast with recent enthusiasm around cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies more generally. This new interest has attracted significant investment, resulting in the rapid evolution of DLT system types and applications, many of which have little in common with Bitcoin and its numerous copycats.


DLT systems conceptually emerged in 1982, while the earliest occurrence of the ‘blockchain’ concept can be traced back to 1991


What Is DLT?

Distributed ledger technology (DLT) has established itself as an umbrella term to designate multi-party systems that operate in an environment with no central operator or authority, despite parties who may be unreliable or malicious (‘adversarial environment’). Blockchain technology is often considered a specific subset of the broader DLT universe that uses a particular data structure consisting of a chain of hash-linked data blocks.

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