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).



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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