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Building Blocks for Atomicity in Electronic Commerce

Jiawen Su and J.D. Tygar
Department of Computer Science
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA


Atomicity is clearly a central problem for electronic commerce protocols -- we can not tolerate electronic commerce systems where money is arbitrarily created or destroyed. Moreover, these atomicity properties should be retained in the event of component failures in distributed systems. In this paper, we enumerate several classes of atomic protocols. We then give two fundamental building blocks for building atomic electronic commerce protocols: encryption-based atomicity and authority-based atomicity. We then illustrate these building blocks by considering variations of payment-server based protocols that use these different building blocks. The results give a contrast to the class of protocols that we have previously examined in our work with NetBill.

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