Yissum - Research Development Company of the Hebrew University

Knowhow - BARTER: A Backbone Architecture for Trade of Electronic content (A Scalable and Efficient E-Commerce System)

Posted by Yissum - Research Development Company of the Hebrew UniversityResponsive · Research Services and Capabilities · Israel

Summary of the technology

Knowhow - BARTER: A Backbone Architecture for Trade of Electronic content (A Scalable and Efficient E-Commerce System)

Project ID : 10-2006-304

Yissum - Research Development Company of the Hebrew University

Description of the technology

Available Knowhow

Commercial Advantages:

The BARTER System is a scalable, highly-available and efficient commerce system that facilitates digital content trade over an open network. It is designed to operate over a large-scale global and heterogeneous communication network infrastructure. The BARTER protocols address two vital requirements from an electronic commerce system, neglected from existing systems: scalability and transactional efficiency, without sacrificing other important requirements such as security, transactional reliability, and auditability. In addition, BARTER suggests three basic protocols offering different levels of trust. This novelty is two-fold:

1. By distributing signature verification away from BARTER servers, the overhead of online transaction processing is reduced by orders of magnitude. However, this does not sacrifice strong security requirements, namely the ability to aggregate transaction commitments and to resolve disputes.

2. BARTER integrates scalability considerations into several system components that are likely to suffer service degradation in a world-wide setting. These components are the authentication subsystems, the account management subsystem, and the maintenance of global data (such as transaction identifier lists).


Most existing suggestions for electronic commerce protocols and electronic commerce systems assume the existence of a server (or several servers) that process most transactions flowing through the system. This server has various functions, which vary among the different systems, and include authentication, database management, transaction processing, assurance of agreement between parties, fraud detection, aggregation and storage of transaction evidence, and sometimes even assuring an atomic exchange of the items involved in the transaction.

When transaction processing is on-line, the volume of transactions processed per unit of time is of high economic importance to the financial institution involved. Some operations performed by current technology servers are computationally expensive, especially if such operations make use of cryptographic primitives, such as digital signatures or public keys. It should be noted that the usage of such primitives is inevitable when one of the basic requirements from an electronic commerce system is the possibility of aggregation and storage of undeniable commitments for the details of transaction executed by the system. This requirement is highly important when safety of information stored at the server is at stake and, evidently, needed when parties involved in the transaction are not trustworthy.

We therefore argue that in most existing electronic commerce systems, such a server is liable to become a bottleneck, since verifying even a single digital signature per transaction will yield a transaction volume of no more than several hundreds per second. Nonetheless, an electronic commerce system which aims at assuring an atomic exchange of items must assume the existence of an on-line server.

In BARTER, we tackle the problem described above in the following manners:

1. Transaction load is distributed among a large number of geographically distant servers, operating at several domains of the network.

BARTER protocols are based on the asynchronous model, according to which there is no assumption regarding clock synchronization among the system servers. Moreover, BARTER protocols tolerate server failures and message omissions; we contend that in a wide area settings, such faults, are liable to occur. BARTER uses are divided into realms, each realm maintained by a primary realm server. Transactions, spanning several domains, are coordinated by the corresponding realm server. Specially, the authentication subsystem and database processing technique apply highly available protocols for coordinating inter-realm transactions.

2. Verification of evidence for the details of a transaction are performed by the parties themselves. The Online realm server/s assure agreement hold, perform database management, and authentication, all of which are inexpensive operations which enable raising the transaction volume by several orders of magnitude.

3. Evidence can be stored by the parties involved in the transaction or by the system itself. This factor implies flexibility when the system trustworthiness cannot be assumed.

BARTER also has several other important properties, required by electronic commerce systems as listed below:

1. Only authorized users can benefit from system services.

2. Properties involved in a transaction do not disclose private information (such as, identity, shopping habits, etc.)

3. A transaction is processed only when both parties agree over its details and the system has collected undeniable proofs for their commitments.

4. Items exchanged within the transaction are being transferred atomically. (Either all parties receive the items exchanged, or none of them do.)

5. All details of transactions processed by the system are subject to arbitration (possibly by human arbitrator).

6. Assuming a continuous interaction between a user and the corresponding realm server, timely delivery can be assured. This means that the exchange of items involved in a transaction will take place within a specified period of time.

Project manager

Tamir Huberman
VP Business Dev. Computer Science & IT Director

Project researchers

Michael Ben-Or
HUJI, School of Computer Science and Engineering
CS - Theoretical

Danny Dolev
HUJI, School of Computer Science and Engineering
CS - Machine Learning

Gadi Shamir

Related keywords

  • Information Processing, Information System, Workflow Management
  • IT and Telematics Applications
  • Multimedia
  • Computers
  • Computer Graphics Related
  • Specialised Turnkey Systems
  • Scanning Related
  • Peripherals
  • Computer Services
  • Computer Software Market
  • Other Computer Related
  • Computer Science & Engineering
  • Available Knowhow

About Yissum - Research Development Company of the Hebrew University

Technology Transfer Office from Israel

Yissum Research Development Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Ltd. Founded in 1964 to protect and commercialize the Hebrew University’s intellectual property. Ranked among the top technology transfer companies, Yissum has registered over 8,900 patents covering 2,500 inventions; has licensed out 800 technologies and has spun-off 90 companies. Products that are based on Hebrew University technologies and were commercialized by Yissum generate today over $2 Billion in annual sales.

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