In a recent paper titled, "Ethereum Platform Review: Opportunities and Challenges for Private and Consortium Blockchains" by Vitalik Buterin, he mentions the notion of public economic consensus.

Can anyone help explain the definition of this term / notion and how it differs from something like public goods and common resources within economics? Is it synonymous with the idea of Proof of Work / Proof of Stake or is it different?

The paragraph it comes from is here:

The Ethereum platform was originally conceived in November 2013 with the goal of creating a more generalized blockchain platform, combining together the notion of public economic consensus via proof of work (or eventually proof of stake) with the abstraction power of a stateful Turing-complete virtual machine in order to allow application developers to much more easily create applications that benefit from the decentralization and security properties of blockchains, and particularly avoid the need to create a new blockchain for each new application.

I am just looking for a better understanding of this concept and any reference / source material you can point me towards.

1 Answer 1


It is not synonym for PoW or PoS.

public economic consensus via proof of work

The semantics of the word via are not an equality operator, but a cause effect relationship. Public economic consensus is possible because of PoW or PoS.


The ethereum blockchain is out in the public and anyone can introspect the state of the blockchain in history and in the most recent block.


the consensus is reached by an economic balance of selfish actors, the miners, who provably (bitcoin proved it for years out in the wild) reach consensus every time. Proof of x is a big part of this economic model. Some oldschoolers say it is the Byzantine General's problem, but I never digged into that.


What is the true state of a thing when a swarm of egalitarian actors (Etherem nodes) need to reach an agreement? Ethereum creates facts that will never change. Consensus in computer science

  • It could be that Vitalik meant economic consensus that is public instead of a consensus that is reached in public and with economic principles. Than the interpretation would be different. But I do not believe in this variation, because the statement is less related to the topic of the paper. Jun 10, 2016 at 9:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.