Fall 2019

Proofs, Consensus, and Decentralizing Society

Aug. 21Dec. 20, 2019

Proof protocols ­­­­­­-- probabilistically checkable proofs, interactive proofs, and zero knowledge proofs -- have seen exciting advances in recent years, from theoretical aspects all the way to deployment. At the same time, blockchain technology -- enabled by techniques from decentralized consensus protocols, cryptography, and game theory -- is not only challenging centralized financial control in the context of real­-world systems like Bitcoin and Ethereum but also has the potential to be a foundation for real­-world distributed systems used for public benefit.

These two strands, proof protocols and blockchain technology, are intertwined. On the one hand, proofs can enhance the auditability and accountability of decentralized systems while preserving user privacy; for this reason, proofs are a key ingredient in the future growth and evolution of blockchains. On the other hand, decentralized consensus protocols could themselves be used to design improved proof protocols and other cryptographic primitives.

The stability and success thus far of blockchain­-based systems raises pressing questions in distributed algorithms, cryptography, and game theory. Such decentralized public systems also raise economic, legal, and ethical questions whose study is intimately tied to the underlying technology and its trajectory.

This program will bring together researchers from Computer Science and beyond, whose research is contributing to three sub-themes: proof systems, decentralized consensus, and applications of these to society, economics, and cryptocurrencies.

Organizers: Alessandro Chiesa (UC Berkeley; chair), Eli Ben-Sasson (Technion), Yael Kalai (MSR and MIT), Rafael Pass (Cornell University), Michael Walfish (New York University) 

List of tentative participants (tentative list, including organizers):
Ittai Abraham (VMware Research), Eli Ben-Sasson (Technion), Andrew J. Blumberg (University of Texas at Austin), Dan Boneh (Stanford University), Joseph Bonneau (New York University), Christian Cachin (IBM Research), Alessandro Chiesa (UC Berkeley), Irit Dinur (Weizmann Institute of Science), Matthew D. Green (Johns Hopkins University), Jens Groth (University College London), Yuval Ishai (Technion and UCLA), Yael Kalai (MSR and MIT), Aggelos Kiayias (University of Edinburgh), Dahlia Malkhi (VMware Research), David Mazières (Stanford University), Andrew Miller (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), Neha Narula (MIT Media Lab), Helen Nissenbaum (Cornell Tech), Claudio Orlandi (Aarhus University), Omer Paneth (MIT), Rafael Pass (Cornell University), Omer Reingold (Stanford University), Guy Rothblum (Weizmann Institute of Science), Ron Rothblum (MIT), Srinath Setty (MSR), Abhi Shelat (Northeastern University), Elaine Shi (Cornell University), Justin Thaler (Georgetown University), Peter Van Valkenburgh (Coin Center), Michael Walfish (New York University), Aviv Zohar (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)


Those interested in participating in this program should send email to the organizers proofs2019 [at] lists [dot] simons [dot] berkeley [dot] edu (at this address).

Program image by Luisa Lee