Blockchain, cryptography, and consensus

Speaker:        Dr. Christian Cachin
                Senior Researcher
                IBM - Zurich

Title:          "Blockchain, cryptography, and consensus"

Date:           Thursday, 7 December 2017

Time:           2:00pm - 3:00pm

Venue:          Lecture Theatre H (near lift 27/28), HKUST


A blockchain is a public ledger for recording transactions, maintained by
many nodes without central authority through a distributed cryptographic
protocol. All nodes validate the information to be appended to the
blockchain, and a consensus protocol ensures that the nodes agree on a
unique order in which entries are appended. Distributed protocols
tolerating faults and adversarial attacks, coupled with cryptographic
tools are needed for this. The recent interest in blockchains has revived
research on consensus protocols, ranging from the proof-of-work method in
Bitcoin's "mining" protocol to classical Byzantine agreement. Going far
beyond its use in cryptocurrencies, blockchain is today viewed as a
promising technology to simplify trusted exchanges of data and goods among
companies. In this context, the Hyperledger Project has been established
in early 2016 as an industry-wide collaborative effort to develop an
open-source blockchain. This talk will present an overview of blockchain
concepts, cryptographic building blocks and consensus mechanisms. It will
also introduce Hyperledger Fabric, an implementation of blockchain
technology intended for enterprise applications. Being one of the key
partners in the Hyperledger Project, IBM is actively involved in the
development of this blockchain platform.


Christian Cachin is a cryptographer and computer scientist interested in
distributed computing, cryptographic protocols, and security, working at
IBM Research - Zurich. He graduated with a Ph.D. in Computer Science from
ETH Zurich and has held visiting positions at MIT and at EPFL. An IEEE
Fellow, ACM Distinguished Scientist, and recipient of multiple IBM
Outstanding Technical Achievement Awards, he has co-authored a textbook on
distributed computing titled "Introduction to Reliable and Secure
Distributed Programming". Currently he serves as the President of the
International Association for Cryptologic Research (IACR). In addition to
many cryptographic protocols that he has developed, particularly for
achieving consensus and for executing distributed cryptographic operations
over the Internet, he has also contributed to standards in storage
security and key management. His current research addresses blockchains,
the security of cloud computing, secure protocols for distributed systems,
and cryptography.