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  4. Although Bitcoin was intended to be a decentralized digital currency, in practice, mining power is quite concentrated. This fact is a persistent source of concern for the Bitcoin community. We provide an explanation using a simple model to capture miners' incentives to invest in equipment. In our model, n miners compete for a prize of fixed size. Each miner chooses an investment q_i, incurring cost c_iq_i, and then receives reward q^{\alpha}∑_j q_j^{\alpha}, for some \alpha≥1. When c_i = c+j for all i,j, and α=1, there is a unique equilibrium where all miners invest equally. However, we prove that under seemingly mild deviations from this model, equilibrium outcomes become drastically more centralized. In particular, (a) When costs are asymmetric, if miner i chooses to invest, then miner j has market share at least 1−c_j/c_i. That is, if miner j has costs that are (e.g.) 20% lower than those of miner i, then miner j must control at least 20% of the \emph{total} mining power. (b) In the presence of economies of scale (α>1), every market participant has a market share of at least 1−1/α, implying that the market features at most α/(α−1) miners in total. We discuss the implications of our results for the future design of cryptocurrencies. In particular, our work further motivates the study of protocols that minimize "orphaned" blocks, proof-of-stake protocols, and incentive compatible protocols. 
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  5. We give query-efficient algorithms for the global min-cut and the s-t cut problem in unweighted, undirected graphs. Our oracle model is inspired by the submodular function minimization problem: on query $S \subset V$, the oracle returns the size of the cut between $S$ and $V \setminus S$. We provide algorithms computing an exact minimum $s$-$t$ cut in $G$ with $\tilde{O}(n^{5/3})$ queries, and computing an exact global minimum cut of $G$ with only $\tilde{O}(n)$ queries (while learning the graph requires $\tilde{\Theta}(n^2)$ queries). 
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