How to enable self-governance in decentralized science

Delegated Proof of Expertise Contribution

Our team is developing a decentralized research platform DEIP that is designed for scientific workflows and is governed by the scientific community. The platform enables scientists to work effectively and manage full research cycles within a single ecosystem — get a grant, conduct and manage research, publish and have it reviewed by other experts etc.

Join our Public Testnet!
We launch public testnet of our protocol on September 6th — it will happen at TechCrunch Disrupt where DEIP takes part. We invite everyone to run nodes, simulate transactional activity, try to find network vulnerabilities and help improve our protocol. For participation email Alexey Kulik — DEIP Chief Blockchain Architect.

How to reflect scientific contribution on the blockchain?

To build such a platform as DEIP — governed exclusively by the scientific community — we needed to create a protocol and the economic model where the main merit would be the scientific contribution. For this, we developed DEIP blockchain, in the core of which is our own consensus algorithm — Delegated Proof of Expertise Contribution (DPoEС).

Any public blockchain is run by block producers — decentralized bodies who keep blockchain running. Consensus algorithm defines the way of how block producers are selected as well as the order in which they produce blocks. There are multiple different algorithms, each introduces different trade-offs and levels of decentralization.

The fact that DPoEC consensus is delegated means that DEIP users should not necessarily participate in executing decisions, like network maintenance, themselves. Instead, they can delegate it to block producers who will perform platform governance on their behalf, which is more convenient.

Block producers in DPoEC are elected by voting of certain users, whose power of vote is defined by the level of their scientific contribution. To make it work, we needed to find a way to measure this contribution and reflect it on the blockchain.

Expertise Tokens as a measure of scientific contribution. How they work

The solution we found is Expertise Tokens. They are specific to each scientific discipline and reflect an expertise contribution of a member to this discipline. Expertise Tokens are not transferable, one can’t buy or sell them, it is only possible to earn them by making a contribution to science within a specific discipline.

The mathematical algorithm constantly allocates Expertise Tokens and distributes them (a) across disciplines and (b) then within each discipline among its active research projects, depending on their assessment by the scientific community; the higher the assessment, the more Expertise Tokens are distributed. Research projects are assessed also via these tokens.

Read more on Expertise Tokens and the assessment model in our whitepaper.

Expertise Tokens as a governance tool

Expertise Tokens are the main tokens on which decentralization of the platform is based. Specific to each discipline, they are used both for governance within these disciplines (for example, influence grant distribution among research projects) and as governance tokens for the whole system.

Block producers, on the one hand, are very powerful, because they can decide on changes in protocol. On the other hand, they have this power only because it is delegated by the scientific community. If decisions made by the delegates are not aligned with its interest, community members can always withdraw their votes from them or even change all block producers. If we compare it with DPoS, it allows for a situation when a block producer has so many liquid tokens that no one can beat his/her stake and unvote for him; in DPoEС such a situation, when block producers can dictate their own rules over the community, is practically impossible.

It’s also important that not only the economic model of the protocol is governed by the scientific community, but also the whole infrastructure of DEIP blockchain. It means that the volume of decentralized storage, computation power, transactions throughput models etc. will always strive to be adjusted in a way beneficial for the scientific community.

How block producers in DPoE are selected. Principles

Block producers (BPs) are responsible for creating blocks, maintaining the functioning of the protocol and preventing malicious transactions to be included in blocks. To ensure that DEIP block producers are trustworthy, all block producer candidates should publicly expose their decision making principles and goals regarding the platform: provide their roadmap on how they see the future of DEIP, how they will be evolving the platform, how they are going to decide on changes in protocol, what type of changes they will support. They will also elaborate on plans for promoting DEIP platform, raising its community, etc. If a block producer skips block production for 24 hours, it will be removed from BP list and its signing key will be reset.

Block production schedule
DEIP blockchain is run by 21 block producers (BP) who are constantly changing. Their order is defined by the block production schedule that lasts one round of 21 blocks (1 minute and 3 seconds). The schedule is shuffled using pseudo-random algorithm based on the seed from the prior block, and each block producer is assigned a slot when he or she should produce a block. In every schedule 20 BPs are selected from top voted candidates, and 1 BP is time-shared among all the other candidates.

Community voting for 20 block producers
Each expert on the platform can vote for up to 30 BP candidates; an expert votes with all his or her Expertise Tokens at once. 20 top-voted candidates are included in active block producers list and are eligible to produce and sign blocks. It means they set a public key and start signing blocks with the private key.

‘Running contest’ for the 21st block producer
The goal of this mechanism is to give other candidates a second chance to become a BP notwithstanding how many votes they have got. The process is based on a kind of a ‘running contest’ scheme, and all BP candidates who take part in this process are called ‘runners’. The main idea of this contest is to be the closest BP to some starting point, which also moves with all runners.

We will describe the procedure of “running contest” in one of our next articles.

The day of our Public Testnet launch is approaching soon. On September 6th we will officially announce the launch at the TechCrunch Disrupt event in San Francisco. You can already try the private blockchain testnet today. We have created a manual that will walk you through on how to launch the node, run the wallet, create an account and etc. Get involved today!

Share all your comments and thoughts on our DEIP Telegram Community.

Join the discussion — and stay tuned!

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