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CIS Seminar:”Improving the Privacy, Scalability, and Ecological Impact of Blockchains”

February 10 at 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Blockchains are an exciting area of research that touches on many areas of Computer Science and beyond.   This technology has the potential to enable a fast, cheap, and private financial system based on distributed consensus and cryptography, instead of trusted parties.  Despite this potential, the reality still shows severe limitations of blockchains: (i) transactions can cost hundreds of dollar and take minutes to confirm, (ii) some blockchains offer little privacy, and (iii) proof-of-work consensus consumes too much energy.  In this talk, I will discuss powerful techniques that follow a prover paradigm and can mitigate these limitations.  The first technique, called Bulletproofs, is a general-purpose zero-knowledge proof system that is specifically designed to enable confidential blockchain transactions. Bulletproofs requires minimal trust assumptions and gives the shortest zero-knowledge proofs without trusted setup. The system is widely deployed and powers tens of thousands of private blockchain transactions per day.   The second technique, called inner pairing products, is a way to aggregate many zero knowledge proofs into a single short proof. This can significantly reduce on-chain data, leading to a significant increase in transactions per second that the chain can process.   The third technique is a new concept called a verifiable delay function (VDF) that is vital for permission-less and eco-friendly consensus. VDFs are already deployed in Filecoin and Chia, and are planned for Ethereum 2.0, the upcoming upgrade to Ethereum.

Benedikt Bünz

Applied Crypto Group, Stanford University

I am a PhD student in the Applied Crypto Group at Stanford My main research focuses on the science of blockchains using tools from applied cryptography, game theory and consensus. I get most excited about problems that both require novel theoretical insights and also have real-world applications. My work focuses on enhancing the privacy, usability and security of protocols blockchain protocols. Currently I am pursuing my PhD in computer science at Stanford and am advised by Dan Boneh.I was a Mircosoft Research Fellow at the Simons Institute for Theory of Computing. I was a visitor for the Proofs, Consensus, and Decentralizing Society.  I received my B.Sc from the University of Zurich in 2014. In my thesis I studied on Combinatorial Auctions with Prof. Sven Seuken and Prof. Ben Lubin from Boston University.I did an internship at Visa Research working on confidential smart contracts. I was advised by Shashank Agrawal.


February 10
3:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Event Tags:


Computer and Information Science


Wu and Chen Auditorium (Room 101), Levine Hall
3330 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104 United States
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