A Deployment-First Methodology to Mechanism Design and Refinement in Distributed Systems

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Catalyzed by the popularity of blockchain technology, there has recently been a renewed interest in the design, implementation and evaluation of decentralized systems. Most of these systems are intended to be deployed at scale and in heterogeneous environments with real users and unpredictable workloads. Nevertheless, most research in this field evaluates such systems in controlled environments that poorly reflect the complex conditions of real-world environments. In this work, we argue that deployment is crucial to understanding decentralized mechanisms in a real-world environment and an enabler to building more robust and sustainable systems. We highlight the merits of deployment by comparing this approach with other experimental setups and show how our lab applied a deployment-first methodology. We then outline how we use Tribler, our peer-to-peer file-sharing application, to deploy and monitor decentralized mechanisms at scale. We illustrate the application of our methodology by describing a deployment trial in experimental tokenomics. Finally, we summarize four lessons learned from multiple deployment trials where we applied our methodology.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Decentralized Systems
  • Research Methodology
  • Experimental Setups
  • System Failures


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