IC3: Advancing the science and applications of blockchains

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by Florian Suri-Payer and Natacha Crooks on August 27, 2022
Applications want to retain database functionality when decentralizing their systems. Unfortunately, straightforward designs atop today's blockchain system fall short of this task. The current separation between the ordering layer and the application materialization layer in blockchain based designs precludes the design of expressive, and high performance transactional systems. In our recent work Basil - Breaking up BFT with ACID (transactions) we explore how to merge these layers for improved scalability and usability.
by Ari Juels on July 20, 2022
Bitcoin and blockchains - the technology that makes cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin possible - have become inescapable phenomena in finance and even popular culture. Despite their rise in popularity, though, there is considerable bewilderment around blockchains and their capabilities. In this talk, Ari Juels, the Weill Family Foundation and Joan and Stanford I. Weill Professor at Cornell Tech and Co-Director of the Initiative for CryptoCurrencies and Contracts (IC3), will aim to demistify this intriguing technology. He will explain how blockchains mean much more than Bitcoin and indeed how blockchain-based digital apes may be harbingers of our future in leisure and the arts. We hope to see you at this virtual event.
by Youer Pu, Lorenzo Alvisi and Ittay Eyal on June 21, 2022
The Nakamoto consensus protocol works in a permissionless model, where nodes can join and leave without notice. However, it guarantees agreement only probabilistically. Is this weaker guarantee a necessary concession to the severe demands of supporting a permissionless model? We show that, at least in a benign failure model, it is not. We present Sandglass, the first permissionless consensus algorithm that guarantees deterministic agreement and termination with probability 1 under general omission failures. Like Nakamoto, Sandglass adopts a hybrid synchronous communication model, where, at all times, a majority of nodes (though their number is unknown) are correct and synchronously connected, and allows nodes to join and leave at any time.
by Weizhao Tang, Lucianna Kiffer, Giulia Fanti and Ari Juels on May 25, 2022
In traditional financial systems, time equals money and network latency - i.e., the time for messages to travel in a network - has an outsized impact. Recently, network latency has become critical in blockchain peer-to-peer (P2P) networks as well. Among other impacts, low-latency connections in P2P networks can advantage arbitrageurs by giving them the ability to exploit the trades of other users for financial gain. In this blog post, we summarize a recent paper of ours that explores P2P network latency. We present Peri, a practical strategy that selects peers with low latencies from a local view of the P2P network. we demonstrate how startegic agents, i.e., self-interested P2P network actors, can use Peri to manipulate network latency to their advantage.
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.
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Monday October 3, 2022
Please join us for an evening of art and research talks to celebrate the opening of the NFT art gallery at Cornell Tech in New York City.
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.
Tuesday August 30, 2022
IC3 will host a dinner at SBC 2022 on Tuesday, August 30th in Palo Alto, CA. The event will run from 5:30-9:30 pm with a cocktail hour followed by a catered dinner and selected talks.
August 1-7, 2022
Thank you to everyone who joined us for the 7th Annual IC3 Blockchain Camp! This 7-day experience was hosted in-person on the Cornell Campus in Ithaca, NY. Our Camp technical committee of Surya Bakshi, Tyler Kell and Patrick McCorry prepared an immersive coding and learning experience with talks, panels, whiteboard sessions, and a week-long hackathon.
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.
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Featured Projects

Multi-Factor Key Derivation Function (MFKDF)

We present the first general construction of a Multi-Factor Key Derivation Function (MFKDF). Our function expands upon password-based key derivation functions (PBKDFs) with support for using other popular authentication factors like TOTP, HOTP, and hardware tokens in the key derivation process. In doing so, it provides an exponential security improvement over PBKDFs with less than 12ms of additional computational overhead in a typical web browser. We further present a threshold MFKDF construction, allowing for client-side key recovery and reconstruction if a factor is lost. Finally, by *stacking* derived keys, we provide a means of cryptographically enforcing arbitrarily specific key derivation policies. The result is a paradigm shift toward direct cryptographic protection of user data using all available authentication factors, with no noticeable change to the user experience. We demonstrate the ability of our solution to not only significantly improve the security of existing systems implementing PBKDFs, but also to enable new applications where PBKDFs would not be considered a feasible approach. For further details, please check out our Projects Page.

Authentication factors
Key derivation
Cryptographic protection

More projects:

  • After the fall: Bitcoin true legacy may be blockchain technology
  • Blockchains: Infrastructure and Semicommons
  • log*: Round Game-Theoretically-Fair Leader Election
  • Sandglass: Safe Permissionless Consensus
  • How to Peel a Million: Validating and Expanding Bitcoin Clusters
Even more projects...