DESCAN: Censorship-resistant indexing and search for Web3

Martijn de Vos*, Georgy Ishmaev, Johan Pouwelse

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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The popularity of blockchain technology has bootstrapped many “Web3” applications, e.g., Ethereum and IPFS, that apply distributed ledger technology to store transactions. The amount of transactions generated and stored in such Web3 applications is significant and, in its raw form, usually not searchable by users. Existing Web3 transaction indexing and search engines are predominantly centralized and, therefore, can manipulate search results or censor particular queries. With the proliferation of Web3 transactions and applications, a decentralized and censorship-resistant search primitive is becoming essential. We present DESCAN, a decentralized and censorship-resistant indexing and search engine for Web3. Users index their local Web3 transactions using custom rules that output triplets. Generated triplets are bundled in a distributed transaction graph that is searchable by other users. To coordinate search and distribute the storage of the transaction graph over peers in the network, we build upon a Skip Graph (SG) data structure. Since the Skip Graph does not provide any resilience against adversarial peers that censor searches, we propose four modifications to improve its robustness. We implement DESCAN and conduct experiments with up to 12 800 peers and 10 million Ethereum transactions. Our experiments show that DESCAN with our modifications enabled can tolerate 20% adversarial peers and 35% unresponsive peers without disruption. Moreover, we find that searches in DESCAN are usually completed well within a second, even when the network grows. Finally, we show that storage and network costs are evenly distributed amongst peers as the network grows.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-272
Number of pages16
JournalFuture Generation Computer Systems
Publication statusPublished - 2024


This work is funded by the Ethereum Foundation under grant FY22-0833 .


  • Blockchain technology
  • Censorship resistance
  • Decentralized search
  • Decentralized systems
  • Skip graph
  • Web3


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