It’s been less than a decade since bitcoin, the world’s first decentralized cryptocurrency, was born. Despite a rollercoaster ride, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that followed have steadily increased their influence in the world of finance. However, their assimilation as modes of payments has squarely rested on the synergy between financial and computational expertise. At the vanguard of such co-disciplinary researches is the Initiative for CryptoCurrencies and Contracts (IC3), based at the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech in New York City. IC3 draws on the experience of faculty members at Cornell University, Cornell Tech, UC Berkeley, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and Technion (Israel). In November, IC3 added an important member to this panel by inducting Professor Bryan Ford, who heads the Decentralized/Distributed Systems (DEDIS) lab at EPFL.

Prof Ford has a lot of experience in developing and working with secure decentralized systems, private and anonymous communication technologies, Internet architecture, and secure operating systems. This domain knowledge is in sync with IC’s main deliverables: blockchain science and code. As part of IC3, Prof Ford will play a stellar role in the growth of a dynamic blockchain and crypto-finance ecosystem. Welcoming Prof Ford and the DEDIS lab aboard IC3, Dean Jim Larus observed, “The research will ultimately contribute to the next generation of financial services and likely even more innovative applications of the technology not only here in Switzerland but globally.”

IC3 is working on reducing the over-dependence of the existing cryptocurrencies and contracts on heuristic designs and developing scalable and reliable blockchain-based solutions based on scientific rigor. That’s where the experience of Prof Ford can provide a major fillip to IC3’s objectives. Conversely, as part of IC3, Prof Ford will be at an excellent vantage point to widen the geographic reach of his research to regions where significant transformations are taking place in blockchain technology.

Apart from Prof Ford, two other Europeans joined IC3 in November: Sarah Meiklejohn (Associate Professor at University College London) and Srdjan Capkun (Professor at ETH Zurich). The expansion of IC3’s core team will hopefully enable cryptocurrencies to fructify their promise for both business and society. Echoing this sentiment, Prof Ford said, “I am thrilled to work more closely with the stellar team of researchers at IC3, who collectively answer the urgent need in the blockchain community for world-class academic expertise in technology, economics, and policy.”

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