IC3: Advancing the science and applications of blockchains

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by Sarah Allen, Ari Juels, Mukti Khaire, Tyler Kell and Siddhant Shrivastava on April 25, 2022
Fine artists exercising unprecedented control of their own markets, high tech art, cartoon images of rocks selling for millions of dollars, scams, cult-like followings - the NFT market has it all! In this post, we will briefly survey the traditional art market abd the NFT fine art market. The convergence of these things - NFT technology and the traditional art market - leads us to make predictions for the future of the market and technology.
by James Grimmelmann, Yan Ji and Tyler Kell on March 21, 2022
Many NFT and DAOs are designed to provide new or more convenient ways to own and sell creative works. Beeple's EVERYDAYS - The First 5000 Days sold at auction for $69 million. Some observers think that the Bored Ape Yacht Club's spectacular rise is due to its permissive copyright approach. Some artists and developers are diving in head-first.
by Ittay Eyal and Ittai Abraham on March 07, 2022
The Selfish mining attack against blockchain protocols was discovered and formalized in 2013 by Eyal and Sirer (also see our blog post). The Bitcoin community has mentioned similar types of attacks in 2010. This attack remains a vulnerability of all operational blockchains we are aware of. For Bitcoin's blockchain algorithm (under reasonable network assumptions), a coalition controlling over 1/4 of the mining power can improve its revenue using this attack.
by Itay Tsabary, Alex Manuskin, and Ittay Eyal on February 03, 2022
Prominent smart contracts, e.g., roll-ups, critically rely on timely confirmations of their transactions. Sadly, that's not how blockchain works, as confirmation times depend on transactions fees, where the required fee is determined by the volatile fee market. We present LedgerHedger, the first smart contract that facilitates a reservation for a future transaction confirmation. LedgerHedger is secure, incentive-compatible, and has low overhead for practical future-transaction parameters.
by Mahimna Kelkar on November 16, 2021
In current blockchain consensus protocols, a single miner or validator unilaterally controls the inclusion and ordering of transactions in a block. This form of temporary centralization is entirely at odds with the goals of decentralization. It also poses an acute problem for decentralized finance (DeFi). Arbitrageurs today are engaged in rampant collusion with miners to reorder transactions and extract profit at the expense of ordinary DeFi users. In the process of doing so, arbitrageurs are also participating in systemic bribery and even threatening the consensus stability of blockchains. So far in 2021, the impact of opportunistic transaction recording - often called MEV or miner/maximum extractable value - has exceeded $550 million by one conservative estimate.
by Ittay Eyal on November 16, 2021
Securing digital assets like cryptocurrencies and NFTs is a tricky business, as demonstrated by numerous losses and heists. The challenge of storing digital assets applies equally to individuals and to larger actors - from companies to cryptocurrency exchanges to the largest financial services corporates. Digital assets are secured (almost exclusively) with cryptographic signing keys. But from the early days of Bitcoin it was clear that our mechanisms, which worked perfectly well in the olden days, are inadequate. Our mobile devices are (maybe) secure enough for our emails, but not for cash. Plastic cards work for authorizing transactions if we can cancel them with a phone call, but that's not the case with digital cash that has no 'undo'. Indeed, for securing digital assets it is not uncommon to use multiple keys.
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August 29-31, 2022
This conference focuses on technical innovations in the blockchain ecosystem, and brings together researchers and practioners working in the space. We are interested in the application of cryptography, decentralized protocols, formal methods, and empirical analysis, to improving the security and scalability of blockchain deployments. We aim to foster collaboration among practitioners and researchers working on blockchain protocol development, cryptography, distributed systems, secure computing, crypto-economics, and economic risk analysis.
August 1-7, 2022
Join us for the 7th Annual IC3 Blockchain Camp! This 7-day experience will be hosted in-person on the Cornell Campus in Ithaca, NY. Our camp technical committee of Suryia Bakshi, Tyler Kell and Patrick McCorry is preparing another immersive coding and learning experience.
April 29, 2022 -May 1, 2022
Cornell FinTech Club (CFT), the first all-encompassing fintech club for undergraduates at Cornell University, is hosting a blockchain hackathon (NFTs and more) from April 29 to May 1, 2022 sponsored by Ava Labs, Fintech at Cornell, and The Initiative for CryptoCurrencies and Contracts (IC3). This hackathon aims to inspire participants to create blockchain innovations by introducing fintech concepts and developing with Avalanche, Ava Labs' smart contracts blockchain platform. Attendees can mentor, judge, or host/speak at a workshop/event and Cornell undergraduate students only can hack in teams for prizes. With workshops, a $6k+ prize pool, multiple challenges, food, swag, social and corporate events, attendees and hackers will experience a fun, innovative weekend. Want to attend or hack at the 2022 Cornell FinTech Club Avalanche Hackathon? Please fill out this interest form.
Monday December 13, 2021
The attempt to modernize oversight of America's financial markets and the simultaneous rise of bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, and the digital dollar are disrupting financial services as we know them. This roundtable will examine the potential for crypto/blockchain networks to transform the financial sector and what that means for consumers and institutions.
October 6-7, 2021
The goal of this event is to introduce Protocol Labs Research's newly formed ConsensusLab to its future partners and to establish a workshop-style venue to bottstrap scientific exchange across a wider community of shared interests. We invite contributions from current and prospective collaborators, as well as from all researchers in the field.
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Featured Projects

Generalized Proof of Liabilities

Proof of Liabilities (PoL) allows a prover to prove his/her liabilities to a group of verifiers. This is a cryptographic primitive once used only for proving financial solvency but is also applicable to domains outside finance, including transparent and private donations, new algorithms for disapproval voting and publicly verifiable official reports such as COVID-19 daily cases. These applications share a common nature in incentives, it's not in the prover's interest to increase his/her total liabilities. We generalize PoL for these applications by attempting for the first time to standardize the goals it should achieve from security, privacy and efficiency perspectives. We also propose DAPOL+, a concrete PoL scheme extending the state-of-the-art DAPOL protocol but providing provable security and privacy, with benchmark results demonstrating its practicality. In addition, we explore techniques to provide additional features that might be desired in different applications of PoL and measure the asymptotic probability of failure. For further details, please check out our Projects Page.

Proof of Liabilities
Publicly verifiable
Provable security and privacy

More projects:

  • NFTs: Copyright Vulnerabilities
  • SCIF: Smart Contract Information Flow
  • MDP: Efficient MDP Analysis for Selfish-Mining in Blockchains
  • NFTs for Art and Collectables: Primer and Outlook
  • Colordag: An Incentive-Compatible Blockchain
Even more projects...