Analyzing the sustainability of distributed ledger applications

Osterland, Thomas; Rose, Thomas (Thesis advisor); Jarke, Matthias (Thesis advisor); Karagiannis, Dimitris (Thesis advisor)

Aachen : RWTH Aachen University (2022)
Dissertation / PhD Thesis

Dissertation, RWTH Aachen University, 2022


The advance of the distributed ledger technology changed our understanding of cooperative business processes. In the context of digitalization, distributed ledger technologies have the potential to extensively automate business processes and to enable new forms of cooperation. Existing trust relationships can be secured and previously deficient cooperation can be initially established. However, the distributed ledger technology is not a simple component, that can be easily integrated into an existing application. The security of the distributed ledger strongly depends on the heterogeneity and robustness of the underlying ecosystem. Participants need to trust the security of the ecosystem and the trust must be maintained over time. This can only be achieved, if the complex relationship between participants and their trust into the underlying ecosystem is considered early in the engineering process. This thesis introduces distributed ledger technology processes, as an analogy and an extension of conventional software processes. Software processes structure the task of software engineering into consecutive steps and sub-processes to improve the quality of produced software and the engineering process itself. However, conventional software processes do not consider the application ecosystem to an extent, as itis necessary when engineering distributed ledger applications. Questions with regard to Sustainability, Environment, Business Processes and Platform Identification remain unanswered. Therefore, this thesis introduces a tool set as focal part of distributed ledger technology processes. The tool set includes (among others)a guided procedure to derive a governance model for the distributed ledger network, stochastic simulation as a means to assess the long term operability of distributed ledger systems and model checking to formally verify the correctness of smart contracts. This is important, since 1) a distributed ledger, that is not capable of handling future requirements of a use case represents eventually a bottleneck and thus, harms the efficient and reliable execution of business processes, and2) smart contracts with software bugs, that either prevent the efficient execution of business processes or favor one party over another will erode the trust that participants have into the ecosystem, eventually.