Cross-Campus, Cross-College, Cross-Continent Collaboration on Interdisciplinary Research and Education

About

The Algorand Foundation has selected Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) as one of 10 global winners to join its Algorand Center of Excellence (ACE) Program. Over the next five years, Algorand's $50 million investment will support blockchain research and education hubs at each institution, aiming to grow a diverse and inclusive global community of blockchain researchers and educators.

The CMU-ACE focuses on two major research areas, one major educational component, and several impactful outreach efforts. Our investigators are located on CMU campuses in Pittsburgh, USA and Kigali, Rwanda (CMU-Africa).

Research

Incentives and economics

The incentives and economics of blockchain technology research area seeks to advance the understanding of cryptography and smart contract programming languages. Incentives and economics differentiate decentralized blockchains from classical distributed systems, but they are currently poorly understood. Classical mechanism design completely fails in this decentralized environment since there is no longer a trusted party who can be entrusted to implement the “honest” mechanism. Smart contracts in cryptocurrencies also provide a mechanism for players to create binding side contracts with which they can split off their gains, but this complicates decentralized mechanism design. We will build a new scientific foundation for understanding the incentives and economics of cryptocurrencies.

Adoption and usability

The adoption and usability research area aims to rework the systems by which users interact with blockchains to make them easier to use and more widely adopted. Cryptocurrencies have been heralded as a great financial equalizer for nations experiencing economic instability with the potential to ease global problems like remittances and wealth storage. However, despite various isolated success cases, these promises have largely not materialized. A major line of work will be to understand usability issues from end users’ perspectives and what properties of cryptocurrencies need to change to increase adoption.

Education

Improving blockchain literacy is central to the growing adoption and development of blockchain applications. CMU will play a central role, developing curricula to provide a worldwide understanding of blockchains and their security.

This is complemented by impactful outreach efforts, including blockchain-specific exercises in picoCTF, an online learning platform and competition designed for middle/high school and college students.

Faculty

Elaine Shi
PI, CMU-ACE

Nicolas Christin
Co-PI, CMU-ACE

Ariel Zetlin-Jones
C
o-PI, CMU-ACE

 

 

 

Jonathan Aldrich
Senior Personnel

Fraser Brown
Senior Personnel

Giulia Fanti
Senior Personnel

 

 

 

Assane Gueye
Senior Personnel

Hanan Hibshi
Senior Personnel

Jan Hoffmann
Senior Personnel

 

 

 

Edith Luhanga
Senior Personnel

Michael McCarthy
Senior Personnel

Jema Ndibwile
Senior Personnel

 

 

 

Bryan Routledge
Senior Personnel

Norman Sadeh
Senior Personnel

Martin Saint
Senior Personnel