Distinguished Blockchain Seminar: Elaine Shi

November 04, 2019

12:00 p.m.

Panther Hollow Room, CIC Building

This event is part of the CyLab Distinguished Seminar Series and is made possible by a generous grant from the Ripple University Blockchain Research Initiative. The CyLab Distinguished Speaker Seminar series brings world-class academics, entrepreneurs, government officials, and technologists across a variety of security and privacy disciplines to engage with the CMU community. 

 

Speaker: Elaine Shi, Associate Professor at Cornell, Co-Founder Ella Blockchain Foundation (CMU alum)

Topic: Rethinking Large-Scale Consensus

Although distributed consensus has been studied by for three decades, they were not deployed at a large scale until decentralized cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. In this talk, I will explain why the classical theoretical foundation for distributed systems is insufficient for capturing the robustness and game theoretic properties we care about for new decentralized environments. Specifically, I will demonstrate why almost all classical “synchronous” consensus protocols are underspecified and thus implementable in practice. I will then describe a new model called “best-possible partition tolerance” that allows us to achieve honest-majority consensus while providing resilience to network partitions (the combination of which was classically deemed impossible due to a well-known lower bound by Dwork, Lynch, and Stockmeyer).

 

Biography

Elaine Shi is an associate professor at Cornell University. Her research interests include cryptography, distributed systems, algorithms, foundations of blockchains, and language-based security. She is a recipient of the Packard Fellowship, the Sloan Fellowship, the ONR YIP award, the NSF CAREER award, the NSA Best Scientific Security paper, and various other best-paper and research awards. Elaine obtained her Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University. Before joining Cornell, she was an Assistant Professor in UMD.

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