Covert AsicBOOST is a topic that for many requires no introduction. Today, we are going to discuss one possible form of potential on-chain evidence of covert ASICBoost use. We will justify the heuristic, explain in what cases it may lead to false positives (or negatives), and present some initial attempts at parsing the data we have available to try to tackle the following question: “Did any miner, at any point in its mining history, activate covert ASICBoost on chain?”.
This work was originally included in a draft technical report that was intended to analyze the issue in far more depth, though the creation of this report was abandoned due to lack of interest across my collaborators, and, to be honest, myself. I abandoned this work in April of 2017 (almost one year ago!), with a plan to get back to it and find some concrete, unbiased results. Being that this has never materialized, and I am unlikely to return to this problem in the future, I would like to present our preliminary directions to the community.
If you don’t understand Bitcoin mining, this post is not for you, as I won’t be providing any background.
Note that this does NOT represent finished, validated, peer reviewed, or otherwise substantiated work; read with a lot of skepticism and take any conclusions derived from such a heuristic with a grain of salt without RIGOROUS PEER REVIEW.