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SnT Distinguished Lecture: Coins, Clubs, and Crowds: Scaling and Decentralisation in Next-Generation Blockchains and Cryptocurrencies

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Speaker: Prof. Bryan Ford, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL)
Event date: Wednesday, 05 December 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
Place: Room E004, JFK Building
29 Avenue J.F. Kennedy
L-1855 Kirchberg

Booking essential
Please book online here

Building secure systems from independent, mutually distrustful parties is an old topic in computer science. But despite its attendant hype and misinformation, today's "blockchain bandwagon" has successfully brought the gospel of decentralisation - both a realisation of its possibility and an appreciation for its value - to mainstream society.

Currently-deployed blockchains, however, are slow, unscalable, weakly consistent, profligate in energy use, and have effectively re-centralised due to market pressures. We will explore challenges and some areas of ongoing progress in rethinking blockchain architecture to improve scalability, efficiency, functionality, privacy, and decentralisation. We will explore how decentralised building blocks such as collective signatures and scalable distributed randomness enable architecturally modular solutions to challenges such as scalable Byzantine consensus, horizontal sharding, proof-of-stake, and blockchain-managed secrets. Finally, we explore challenges in fairness and democratisation in decentralised systems, and the goal of creating a secure "one-person-one-vote" foundation for decentralisation.

Bryan Ford leads the Decentralized/Distributed Systems (DEDIS) research laboratory at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL). Ford focuses broadly on building secure decentralized systems, touching on topics including private and anonymous communication, scalable decentralised systems, blockchain technology, Internet architecture, and operating systems. Ford earned his B.S. at the University of Utah and his Ph.D. at MIT, then joined the faculty of Yale University where his work received the Jay Lepreau Best Paper Award and grants from NSF, DARPA, and ONR, including the NSF CAREER award. His continuing work receives support from EPFL, the AXA Research Fund, and numerous industry partners. He has served on numerous prestigious advisory boards including on the DARPA Information Science and Technology (ISAT) study group, the Swiss FinTech Innovations (SFTI) advisory board, and the Swiss Blockchain Taskforce. 

Please note that a photographer will be present at this event. The images may be published by the University, e.g. on its social media, its website and in print products. If you do not wish to be photographed, please alert the organisers and the photographer.