Blockchains and Cryptocurrencies- Talks by Y. Narahari and C. E. Veni Madhavan

Location: CSA Seminar Room No. 254

Date and Time: 23 February, 2 to 3.30 pm
Venue: CSA Dept, R254

The Robert Bosch Centre is organising two talks in the area of blockchains and one possible use in cryptocurrencies.

The first talk by Prof Y. Narahari is titled “Blockchain Technology: Promise and Prospects for Industrial and Societal Applications”: The bitcoin, unleashed in 2008, was for a specific need (digital currency) but offered a spectacular new data structure for achieving tamper proof record keeping. In this talk, we introduce the building blocks of blockchain technology and survey the rich variety of industrial and societal applications where it can be deployed. In particular, we describe a trusted B2B collaborative platform that we are currently designing using smart contracts inspired by game theoretic analysis.

Y. Narahari is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Automation and the Chair of the Electrical Sciences Division. His current interests are in topics at the interface of computer science and game theory.

The second talk by Prof C. E. Veni Madhavan is focussing on “Cryptocurrencies and Blockchains”: Cryptocurrencies, in particular the first and well-known Bitcoin and others such as Ethereum, are canonical examples of the blockchain paradigm. Minting or generating new elements or coins of this form of currency relies on the notion of proof-of-work. Generation of proof-of-work is based on solving a computationally intensive problem such as finding a specific form of hash string. Cryptocurrencies have serendipitously heralded a digital information revolution in the form of blockchains, a broad term, for distributed ledger technologies.

As monetary instruments these attempt to provide for the many attractive properties of fiat currency, such as privacy, anonymity, transferability, fungibility. However, these are different, from State backed denominational fiat currencies, with respect to the properties of fixed, store-of-value, medium-of-exchange, arbitrage within jurisdictional boundaries, seigniorage in fiscal governance, taxation and law enforcement. An alternative paradigm of cryptographic digital cash, the analog of fiat currency, in the form of digital coins, coupons or tokens, predates the contemporary examples of cryptocurrencies.

Our work is on such a system of virtual money. We discuss these paradigms of cryptonomics from perspectives of science, technology, economics, applications, mathematics, governance and human-usage factors.

Prof. C. E. Veni Madhavan, after his formal retirement as Professor in August 2014, continues to work in the CSA department on various scientific mentoring and R&D projects with government, academia and industry.