Publication Date

Spring 2024

Degree Type

Master's Project

Degree Name

Master of Science in Computer Science (MSCS)


Computer Science

First Advisor

Thomas Austin

Second Advisor

Robert Chun

Third Advisor

Katerina Potika


Proof of Useful Work (uPoW), Blockchain, Cryptocurrency mining, Keypair cryptography, Energy-efficient blockchain, Decentralized transaction validation


The Proof of Work (PoW) consensus used by many blockchain networks like Bitcoin has been criticized for its excessive energy consumption and lack of tangible utility beyond maintaining the network. This report proposes a Proof of Useful Work (uPoW) protocol as an alternative consensus mechanism that utilizes computational resources to solve intrinsically valuable problems. Specifically, it explores the implementation of uPoW on the SpartanGold blockchain test network, where miners must solve Sudoku puzzles to validate new blocks. The report examines the shortcomings of traditional Proof-of-Work protocols, such as their environmental impact and inefficient use of computing power. It then delves into the formulation and deployment of the Sudoku-based uPoW protocol on SpartanGold, highlighting the challenges in defining appropriate computational puzzles, adjusting difficulty levels, and constructing an effective validation mechanism for miners’ solutions. An empirical evaluation demonstrates the Sudoku uPoW protocol’s performance against that of the SpartanGold testnet’s native PoW implementation. Furthermore, the report explores security considerations, incentive structures, and potential real-world applications of repurposing mining efforts towards solving meaningful computational problems, contributing to the ongoing discourse around sustainable and practical consensus mechanisms for blockchain networks.

Available for download on Friday, May 23, 2025