Blockchain’s Best And Brightest Gather At IC3 Ethereum Crypto Boot Camp

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Professors, Ethereum Foundation (EF) contributors, and top students and developers join the Initiative for CryptoCurrencies & Contracts (IC3) Ethereum Crypto Bootcamp in Cornell for a weeklong hackathon.

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IC3’s second annual Ethereum Crypto Bootcamp ends today at Cornell University’s campus in Ithaca, New York, concluding a weeklong intensive aimed at fortifying Ethereum’s strength and community. The “Coding and Learning Experience in Blockchains and Smart Contracts” offered emerging blockchain development stars the chance to network with high-profile industry leaders while collaborating to advance some of Ethereum’s most cutting-edge projects. Notable attendees included Ethereum Inventor Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum Core Developers Alex Van De Sande, Vlad Zamfir, and Nick Johnson, as well as Cornell blockchain professors Ari Juels and Andrew Miller.

Participants were sorted into six teams tasked with solving some of the problems currently facing the Ethereum ecosystem:

  • Team One, “Distributed Key Generation (DKG)” (led by Prof. Andrew Miller): This team worked to improve the Honey Badger Byzantine Fault Tolerance agreement protocol, which can theoretically be deployed on blockchains to enable fast and robust transaction settlements. Honey Badger currently relies on one trusted party or entity to create and manage the private keys for multisig-based operations. The team was challenged to develop a method for utilizing trustless or decentralized DKG methods to create those private keys so that they are mathematically related and unknown to any single party.
  • Team Two, “Town Crier Applications” (led by PhD student Ethan Cecchetti): In a follow-up to a similar undertaking at last year’s Bootcamp, this team was tasked with researching and developing new uses for the “Town Crier” oracle. Town Crier is a tool that privately and verifiably translates information from the legacy internet into an Ethereum-readable format so that executable distributed code contracts (smart contracts) can operate based on information outside of the blockchain using new Intel processors.
  • Team Three, “White-Hat Blockchain Hacks” (led by IC3 Co-Director Ari Juels): This team was asked to do its best “Mr. Robot” impressions and hack several known security problems in Ethereum products – such as a Denial of Service vulnerability in Storj or a query command exploit in Oraclize – in order to identify their sources and how to fix them.
  • Team Four, “Sleepy + Thunderella Implementation” (led by IC3 Co-Director Elaine Shi): This team sought to implement a “simple but provably secure blockchain protocol” that does not rely on Proof-of-Work and allows for instantaneous confirmation, independent of the next block being added to the blockchain.
  • Team Five, “Offline Payment Channels with SGX” (led by Dr. Ittay Eyal): Scaling transaction capacity is a major issue facing every public chain ecosystem, reflected in the ongoing controversy in the Bitcoin community. A recently proposed solution utilizes new Intel processing units to allow transaction processing off the blockchain in a secure environment, thereby drastically increasing on-chain transaction capacity. This team worked to implement that solution onto Ethereum.
  • Team Six, “Writing Secure Smart Contracts” (led by Ph.D. student Phil Daian): With the DAO exploit still fresh in the community’s mind and the EF working to identify ways that solidity can be used maliciously, many are calling for new smart contract development and auditing methods to ensure that contracts will not suffer more problems due to faulty coding. This team was charged with building, auditing, and hacking its own smart contracts in a lab setting in order to progress toward a more secure Ethereum.

In their free time, participants were able to unwind on excursions to Ithaca’s local gorges, parks, lakes, and other points of interest. Hopefully, this year’s event will produce some amazing solutions to the current set of Ethereum problems, perhaps besting last year’s Bootcamp which was hailed by Buterin as “one of the most productive hackathons [he has] ever attended!”

Jason Civalleri is a law student and MBA-graduate passionate for blockchain and distributed ledger innovation. His first exposure to blockchain was his investment in Bitcoin in 2011, and he built his first miner for the Ethereum network in January 2016.

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