IC3: Advancing the science and applications of blockchains

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by Itay Tsabary, Alexander Spiegelman, and Ittay Eyal on December 04, 2019
Proof-of-work (PoW) mechanisms secure about 80% of the $250B cryptocurrency market. PoW requires system participants to expend computational resources, and protects the system from attackers who cannot expend resources at an equivalent rate. These systems operate in the permissionless setting and compensate their users with cryptocurrency, having a monetary value. As cryptocurrency prices sore so do the invested resources, and Bitcoin expenditures alone are 0.24% of the global electricity consumption. Arguably, this is superfluous, and lowering the ecological footprint justifies settling for a lower attack threshold.
by Yujin Kwon, Jian Liu, Minjeong Kim, Dawn Song, and Yongdae Kim on September 30, 2019
Decentralization is an essential factor the should be inherently considered in the design of blockchain systems. Even though people design systems for good decentralization, in practice, we often observe that blockchain systems are highly centralized. Bitcoin and Ethereum, as representative examples, are already well known to be highly centralized in terms of network and mining. In fact, poor decentralization appears not only in PoW-based coins but also in coins adopting other mechanisms such as proof-of-stake (PoS) and delegated proof-of-stake (DPoS).
by Bryan Ford and Rainer Böhme on September 23, 2019
If you think you have designed a permissionless decentralized system that is cleverly secured based on rationality assumptions, you haven't. This blog post, based partly on ideas from Rainer Böhme's talk at the recent BDLT Summer School in Vienna, sketches an argument that rationality assumptions are self-defeating in open permissionless systems with weak identities.
by Fan Zhang, Steven Goldfeder, and Ari Juels on Tuesday September 03, 2019 at 02:00 PM
An oracle is a service that provides data to smart contracts or other systems. Oracles obtain their data from trusted websites. But even those that relay data correctly cannot safely access users' web-session data, because they can't enforce privacy. DECO is a privacy-preserving oracle protocol. Using cryptographic techniques, it lets users prove facts about their web (TLS) sessions to oracles while hiding privacy-sensitive data. DECO can make private and public web data accessible to a rich spectrum of applications, for blockchains and traditional (non-blockchain) systems.
by Aman Ladia and Andrew Miller on July 17, 2019
ZeroWallet is a new protocol that uses zero knowledge proofs to secure private keys with low-entropy passwords. It provides the convenience of brain wallets with a security guarantee comparable to third party multi-sig setups.
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News & Events

Friday November 22, 2019
IC3 faculty, students, sponsors, and guests gather at IC3 Retreats to discuss the major technical challenges, issues and innovatve solutions to widespread blockchain adoption.
Thursday November 21, 2019
Cryptocurrencies do not scale. In this technical deep-dive, we provide an overview of an alternative scaling approach, off-chain protocols, that lets parties transact locally amongst themselves instead of the global network. Off-chain is remarkable as in the best case it lets parties bypass all network fees and blockchain latency, and in the worst-case, the parent blockchainsafeguards the funds of all honest parties. We'll cover the two leading approaches, channel-based networks (lightning et al) and commit-chains (plasma & rollup et al) alongside the new the always online assumption and how the community is trying to alleviate it. If we, as a community, can pull off the implementation of off-chain protocols, it will hopefully unleash a truly permissionless, global and internet-scale financial system.
Thursday October 24, 2019
Tyler Kell is a Research Engineer at Cornell Tech & the Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Contracts (IC3) in New York City. In a prior life, before becoming a researcher, he worked as a penetration tester and security consultant.
October 21-23, 2019
The first ACM conference on Advances in Financial Technologies (AFT'19) aims to be a premier venue presenting the latest developments in technologies related directly and indirectly to novel financial infrastructure such as cryptocurrencies and their applications, blockchains, and exchanges.
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Featured Projects

Hawk: Privacy-Preserving Blockchain & Smart Contracts

Existing blockchain-based cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum store all financial transactions in the clear on the blockchain. This compromises the privacy of financial transactions, which is essential in numerous applications. Hawk is a blockchain-based smart contract system that stores encrypted transactions on the blockchain, and relies on cryptography to retain the security of the cryptocurrency. For further details, please check out https://oblivm.com/hawk.


More projects:

  • Virtual Notary: A Free and Secure Electronic Attestation Service
  • EtherScrape: A Complementary Block Explorer for the Ethereum Blockchain
  • FLAC: A Calculus for Flow-Limited Authorization
  • Gyges: Crime in Decentralized Smart Contracts
  • Theoretical Foundations for Secure Decentralized Systems: Identifies Problems With The DAO's Mechanism Design
Even more projects...

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