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[WSG26] Daily Study Group: Blockchain: A New Computing Paradigm

Hi Everyone!

A Wolfram U daily study group on Blockchain Design begins on June 20 - July 1, 2022.

REGISTER HERE

Join myself @Steph Macurdy and @Leanne Ussher for an exploration into the world of blockchains.

The first week is a conceptual introduction to blockchains and it will serve as a high level overview of the key areas to understand. The second week will serve as a general reframing of what blockchain technology can be and how to think about it from the perspective of different economic frameworks.

We encourage curiosity, exploration and a willingness to collaborate as we all learn about this new and innovative space together. This is a basic introduction to blockchain, so no Wolfram Language knowledge is necessary as a prerequisite.

If you'd like to get started learning Wolfram Language, try our Elementary Introduction here!

Feel free to use this post as a way to collaborate and share ideas, materials and links to other information you find useful. I hope you'll join us!

enter image description here

POSTED BY: Steph Macurdy
67 Replies

Yes. You can access recordings by registering for this Study Group and then clicking each section link on the landing page.

Check out upcoming Daily Study Groups here: https://www.wolfram.com/wolfram-u/special-event/study-groups

POSTED BY: Jamie Peterson
Posted 2 years ago

Did this end on July 1?

POSTED BY: Malthus John

I am wondering if there is a cryptocurrency that has a goal to increase convenience and security. I think economics and money and banks and centralization can't be "solved" which if I understand correctly is the reason for many cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. I think it would be interested if there a technology that was focused on advances in security through mathematical algorithms in group theory like Edwards twisted elliptical curve algorithm and quantum lattice encryption algorithms and the SHA-3 competition by NIST in 2012 won by Keccak (pronounced Ketchup).

I would like to have a diploma in a digital format when I graduate Marshall University in May 2024, God willing, but I'm not sure the people developing cryptocurrencies are focused on electronic diplomas and other important documents such as deeds for property, houses, real estate, stocks, etc. that need to be securely stored and accessible for example in a datacenter/server with backup.

I think cryptocurrencies don't change the economic aspect of how value is created and money is increased/generated/created/expanded. I think the people working on adding new features to Bitcoin and Ethereum, which are the only currencies I know about should focus on mathematics and computer science and Internet and networking research. I think another good goal is to make cryptocurrencies have minimal environmental costs.

I am critical of Bitcoin because it has very large environmental costs.

I support Ethereum's proof of stake model over Bitcoin's proof of work model because it does saves energy.

POSTED BY: Peter Burbery

I don't think online currency is a big invention except maybe for efficiency for example diplomas as non fungible tokens or works of arts but I think all the currencies Bitcoin, ethereum, etc. are not very innovative. I have philoscophical and ontological view of money as creative power. You can give power away for example by charity or you can make more by building a factory for example but I don't think digital money is revolutionary.

POSTED BY: Peter Burbery

Thanks for sharing Peter!

Money is one application in the design space of blockchain applications. It is, perhaps, the lowest hanging fruit, as what's required to create digital money is a fairly low set of requirements (though reaching broad, cultural acceptance is difficult).

Bitcoin's goal was to create peer-to-peer money... Ethereum's goal is not. Ethereum established a broader, more general idea of what could be transmitted on a blockchain protocol, namely computation. Now, experimentation is underway to see what tradeoffs from a blockchain perspective are required to create applications far beyond money; tackling identity, legal contracts, banking, property rights, etc... which will potentially rival, disrupt, and replace the current institutions delivery these solutions.

Yet to be seen, but there's a fair chance that it impacts the framework for governance systems globally. At least, that's part of the promise!

POSTED BY: Steph Macurdy

If you are new to the Wolfram Language but eager to try something elaborate, you can check out Aton Atonov's post on "Cryptocurrencies: correlations, clustering and data analysis"

POSTED BY: Leanne Ussher

Hi Michael! Yes, the lack of standardization across the ecosystem for writing smart contracts means that each one requires a custom structure to get from WL to bespoke chain to execute. It will take time, but this is definitely a big area of interest for us at Wolfram Blockchain Labs.

POSTED BY: Steph Macurdy

It is strange that Stephen's article called "A world run with code" doesn't have a line of code in it! At the moment Mathematica does not allow the specification of Blockchain contracts using the WL. Instead one has to use the language Solidity, see for instance in the documentation ref/blockchain/BlockchainTransaction-bloxberg. Also Blockchain is not the only environment where one can specify a computational contract. If you ask a bank or exchange to set up a specialized instrument, in addition to the usual legal requirements which Cryptos don't have, they will also insist upon either a mathematical description or some code or simulation results.

POSTED BY: Michael Kelly
Posted 2 years ago

Hi Steph and Leanne

I have worked through the toy Bitcoin examples in the day 2 notebook and am now trying it out on real bitcoin data.

I am attempting to calculate the BlockHash for a block from the "header " Say Block 742266

  BlockchainBlockData[742266, BlockchainBase -> "Bitcoin"] ["BlockHash"]
00000000000000000005d92d33ad5f884036b7b7adf9e519bd2de786589e9681

How would I go about calculating (the mathematica code ) this BlockHash using the "header " eg "Timestamp " ,"PreviousBlockHash" , " "TransactionSummary" and "Nonce"

To get the "TransactionSummary" I need to Hash the TransactionList then Hash all 4 parts of the "Header " to get the BlockHash.

I assume there is a way to extract this "Header " from Block 742266 and just Hash it to get the BlockHash

POSTED BY: Doug Beveridge

Hi Doug, I do believe there's a tiny bit more needed to manually calculate. I'm looking here, here and here for more information.

The transaction summary should be provided in the block data by using the MerkleRoot BlockchainBlockData[742266, BlockchainBase -> "Bitcoin"] ["MerkleRoot"]

Will follow up with more info!

POSTED BY: Steph Macurdy
Posted 2 years ago

Wolfram has a guide " Working with Blockchains" but it needs a tutorial on how to integrate these functions to work with blockchains eg Bitcoin.

POSTED BY: Doug Beveridge

Two questions from this week about fraud, loss of funds, or other hacks that make headlines.. anyone willing to explain their thoughts? 1. Please address the issue of why there is so much fraud when this is supposed to be decentralized trust 2. Theft of entire blockchains or huge amount of coins in the news happen frequently. At a bank. you can always go and present your ID and prove that funds belong to you.

POSTED BY: Steph Macurdy

Thank you, Steph. Great discussion topics. With respect to the second,...

could it be possible to turn some kinds of fraud into a blessing, so that it benefits everyone? I mean some fraudulent activities involving intense problem-solving. By adding incentives for turning them into legal but still highly rewarded tasks. Are there any examples of this take on the problem?

What an anti-fragile point of view! Taking fraud and somehow benefitting from it on the other side... hmmm. I'm not sure I have heard of an example, but perhaps there's one in plain sight that I'm not thinking of. Do you think that punishment for fraud could mean... complete this verifiable proof of computation and when you've finished your punishment, you will be allowed back into the system...

Could there be verifiable cryptographic punishment if for some reason fraud does occur?

On the other hand, fraud occurs mostly at the individual level (not protecting keys or falling for a trick/scam) and at the exchange level (where private keys are stored in centralized servers). As blockchain protocols experiment with the tradeoffs of scalability (prioritize speed over security), that's where we begin to see some of the protocol level attacks.

In general, my attention is focused on Bitcoin, because so long it continues operating without going down, it continues to establish the basis for believing that these blockchain protocols CAN work (remember, it's both art like economic incentives and science like cryptography and computer science) .

POSTED BY: Steph Macurdy

I meant some arrangement in the spirit of Mittnik's career evolution or ( already mentioned by you) the "Ender's game". Also, Mafia's move to some "legal" activities (including politics) that are much safer and even more profitable. It's always an interesting story, and I hoped that there are analogs in the crypto field as well.

Here's a good question to discuss: "How important is the accuracy of timestamps used in blockchains? Could timestamp manipulation be a vector of malicious attack? Let's discuss!

POSTED BY: Steph Macurdy

Thank you, Steph*. Trying to compare with (natural) diamonds. They are rare and hard to find and mine, both vaguely hinting at the "information content". In addition, they are "forever". What are the analogs (if any) in the valuation of digital currency?

PS: Sorry, there was a typo in your name. I am taking another class with Seth :)

One characteristic that one might like to have for "digital money" is that its price is stable. If price is determined in market place, then that would require that its supply was elastic - meeting exactly whatever was demanded. This is what Central Banks do with fiat currencies.

I can't imagine that a diamond which is highly elastic in supply would be a good currency (volatile demand would lead to volatile prices). But it depends on what the currency is used for, and what characteristics and functions you would like the currency to have. I think that is where you must start.

POSTED BY: Leanne Ussher

Thank you, Leanne. I use the diamonds as an example of almost opposite do digital, but analogous in labor intensity of mining. Hope that comparison can bring some insights. This is quite a narrow question, about intrinsic value (that's why I did not use a dollar bill as an example), and its relation to the "information content" (I am fascinated with the value being defined by the success in "problem-solving" ), and the "market value". A side thought is that the methodology of valuation based on problem-solving and related gain of information would help to quantify the real value and show an adequate appreciation of the work done by, say, Andrew Wiles or Grigori Perelman. After all, this is also a matter of Justice. So, that's where I decided to start :)

I see - you are using a 'money is a commodity' model of understanding the purpose of money.

So in the case of diamonds you are effectively "backing" the production of a unit of currency (if diamonds were the currency) with work. That marginal work in mining the marginal diamond is rewarded to the miner by then being able to spend the diamond. In the long run the supply of diamonds would stop at the point where the marginal cost of mining diamonds equalled the marginal benefit of spending the diamonds. If the economy demanded more diamonds the price of diamonds would rise and more miners were come in to mine more diamonds until its price went back down again to the cost of mining diamonds. This is the same theorizing as the use of a gold standard. (p.s. while this might be an interesting model for stabilizing the diamond or gold industry despite its erratic scarcity and rush in relation to the rest of the economy - it is not at all obvious that this monetary system is beneficial or stabilizing for the rest of the economy - indeed history tells us that it is not. Diamonds and gold would destabilize our economy - indeed the only reason the gold standard worked well was because it was a gold exchange standard i.e. huge stocks of gold were held off the market by central banks and used them to stabilize its price)

Now let's flip this over to a knowledge standard unit of account. People who create knowledge should have the right to mint currency. It assumes that as a last resort people can use the currency to buy knowledge - maybe buy a patent or mathematics tutoring..? Anyway, let's say that the currency is backed by knowledge (and it could be stabilized by a central bank of knowledge that helps to ensure a demand and supply with some buffer stock stabilization method).

Now what....

Is this the labor intensity in knowledge in a market system, that you are looking for?. Clearly it would attract those who could mine the knowledge the fastest as they would get the fastest rewards.

But how do we measure knowledge, compare it, standardize it into units?

POSTED BY: Leanne Ussher

"But how do we measure knowledge, compare it, and standardize it into units?"

That's a great question! Sorry I did not pose it this way. Apparently, this is a kind of question that WR can handle.

Thank you, Leanne.

Michael, would you consider market pricing dynamics an efficient way to measure the relationship between a bitcoin's price and its negentropic information content?

Because there may be MANY reasons why a bitcoin is priced the way it is, so how would we represent that VALUE in an aggregate way across all variables besides a market pricing dynamic?

POSTED BY: Steph Macurdy

Rereading this and I may have misinterpreted the question. You're saying, there is some intrinsic information content in Bitcoin based on the process of mining, etc. Can we value it based on this dynamic alone?

To think in more of that direction, I would ask, how can we value things in energy units and not necessarily information content. But I would love to hear you expand more on the question and your own thoughts!

POSTED BY: Steph Macurdy
Posted 2 years ago

It's just a vague thought. Can a chain of sci/math discoveries (or "improvements") in a field be described a la blockchain? Say the research from Aristotle, Galileo, Newton, Einstein... Another chain is the development of combinators (see Stephen W.), or the line from Fermat through Wiles... The mining is really intense and costly, the previous steps (at least the reasonably recent) are well documented and all (usually) included in the current "block". Is it completely out of touch?

POSTED BY: Updating Name

Naturally, mining is highly "negentropic". It produces bitcoins and outputs a high volume of entropy, from the heat to the mess on miners' desks and ... food digestion. What is the relation between the value of the coin and its "negentropic" (information) content? Can the latter provide an objective estimate?

Posted 2 years ago

I cannot find the code for "Building a Blockchain , Mining a block " . Day 2 Bitcoin, 47 minutes into the video enter image description here

POSTED BY: Doug Beveridge
POSTED BY: Steph Macurdy

I assess digital currencies based on the body behind them whether it is the United States, the European Union, or Bitcoin miners. I think it would be interesting to have less fees for transactions with digital currencies such as the Digital Dollar.

POSTED BY: Peter Burbery
Posted 2 years ago

Financial institutions all over the world are already working on a digital version of their currency (e.g. digital Yuan and the Digital Dollar project).

Will you look into these initiatives in this Study Group? How do these currencies compare to blockchain-based currencies and our current physical currency? Bitcoin's fame paved the way for a new digital currency, but the public may conflate the different concepts at its own peril.

POSTED BY: Dave Middleton
POSTED BY: Leanne Ussher

I also don't like the term cryptocurrencies specifically the crypto meaning hidden private, etc. I like open, in the clear, everything recorded visible for example Wikipedia everything is available. I can see the entire edit history for a page on Wikipedia for example.

POSTED BY: Peter Burbery

I think it would be interesting to see an equivalent of the World Wide Web develop with cryptocurrencies. I think if there was a way to combine elements of the World Wide Web, Wikipedia (free access to the sum of all human knowledge), the metric system (a unit system for all people for all time based on unchanging universal physical constants), and math, I would be interesting a currency.

The issue is cryptocurrencies are concerned with money, and I don't think that can be solved and I don't think it should be solved (for example Bitcoin solves decentralization but has massive energy impacts on the environment).

POSTED BY: Peter Burbery

My thoughts on Bitcoin and Etheruem and other cryptocurrencies, blockchains, and online systems is centralization will always exist whether that instance is banks such as Bank of America, J.P. Morgan, or Fifth Third Bank, governmental bodies such as the United States Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the European Union's Internal Market and Consumer Protection. There are also minting bodies that print money Bitcoin is supposed to be decentralized but then you have centralization emerge as people make money, buy more ASICS, mine more money, and get more control with Bitcoin so the structure and economics of cryptocurrency is in the blockchain mining and not in the governmental bodies and banks, for example.

I think economics is interesting because it can be modeled with linear algebra for example the Nobel prize laureate Wassily Leontief constructed a model for the US economy. I think cryptocurrencies weakness is they are not widespread. I think the more diversification there exists in an economy, the better. The more widespread a currency is the more diversification. I think cryptocurrency governance should try to move from making it specific to technology and early adopters to buy groceries, steel, airplane tickets, a house, and other sectors of the economy that are not early adopters of technology (in this case food, steel, aviation, and construction and afforable housing).

POSTED BY: Peter Burbery

Bernard Lietaer has a theory about Monetary diversity or pluralism and the economy. You can search this online and find videos or text on this topic. It is very interesting.

POSTED BY: Leanne Ussher
Posted 2 years ago

Does Wolfram as an organization apply blockchain technology for its own operations?

As already brought forward by Peter Cullen, I could think of a Wolfram-U certificate on the blockchain.

POSTED BY: Updating Name

Definitely an interesting area for exploration. I mentioned to Peter above, some of the larger areas of interest within Wolfram and blockchains are providing blockchains with information about the world to facilitate and unlock the full potential of smart contracts. Additionally, because most blockchain data is public, there's lots to do with data analytics. Both areas are in development! I will touch on those ideas in day 5.

POSTED BY: Steph Macurdy
Posted 2 years ago

Thanks Steph, I am looking forward. My name in the previous post never got “updated” :)

POSTED BY: Dave Middleton
Posted 2 years ago

Can we get the recording for yesterday (Wednesday ) , "Exploration of Blockchains" please

POSTED BY: Doug Beveridge

Sorry that the notification was delayed. The recording is now available.

POSTED BY: Jamie Peterson

To watch a recording you need to sign up for the series and then you will get the link in your email.

POSTED BY: Leanne Ussher

There was a question today (Day 3) on whether Europe regulates Crypto. The European Commission has created MiCA which is proposed regulation that will fill the legal vacuum surrounding cryptocurrency service providers. It will also determine which currencies are regulated more versus less i.e. whether they be securities, stable coins, or utility coins. There is already some regulation on this (an on local complementary currencies), but this MiCA proposal will significantly update that. MiCA will likely not be enacted until 2024. The latest document I found is from 2021.

The purpose of regulation "is to ensure EU consumers get access to innovative yet safe crypto-assets without compromising market stability." They also plan to put in place a pilot on distributed ledger technology (DLT) and crypto-assets in the financial sector. Perhaps this link offers a summary.

POSTED BY: Leanne Ussher

I'm a university student and I wonder if there will be a way to get a diploma with a nonfungible token by May 2024. I am excited about this aspect of NFTs because I could lose my paper high school diploma more easily than a high school diploma with an NFT in an Internet server run by Google or a database for example.

POSTED BY: Peter Burbery

I can vouch that there are many university administrations considering this, especially to validate the credentials of foreign students. I don't know of them personally doing it. I think Wolfram has already given a summer school NFT certificate to its participants. Perhaps someone on this discussion board knows more.

I'll add this link. for background.

POSTED BY: Leanne Ussher

A bespoke NFT was made during the 2021 Wolfram Summer School using Cardano blockchain. It is an area of interest for many academic and professional institutions, especially for credentials and reputation.

Wolfram does not manage its own blockchain.

Some of the larger areas of interest within Wolfram and blockchains are providing blockchains with information about the world to facilitate and unlock the full potential of smart contracts and to do analytics on blockchain data. Both areas are in development! I will touch on those ideas in day 5

POSTED BY: Steph Macurdy

I think BitCoin is like video games where the first few times you level up or gain experience its easy and then when you're getting faster at gaining land or territory or technology the cost of everything goes up dramatically and if it took 1 hour to get to level 50 it takes another hour to get to level 100 for example. I think this is not a very good system to throttle how fast you mine BitCoin in a way similar to lots of video game environments.

The growth rate could be linear, logarithmic, polynomial such as squared or cubed or a higher power, or exponential or factorial. I wonder what the best asymptotic complexity of blockchain mining would be? O(1) constant time best O(log n)) very good O(n) linear time complexity good O(n^2) quickly infeasible when scaled for example a million becomes a trillion O(n^3) harder still O(ln a a^n) exponential traveling salesman problems and graph theory problem O(n!) NP hard and NP complete problems must be solved with approximation algorithms and metaheuristics.

The question I am considering What is the best level of difficulty and hardness for a job, or mathematical problem or activity?

POSTED BY: Peter Burbery

The question you're considering is a good one.

Bitcoin’s mining difficulty is updated every 2,016 blocks (or roughly every two weeks). In that two week time period, let's say the price of bitcoin spikes to new all time highs and becomes extremely profitable for miners. This market dynamic is likely to incentivize new miners ( or offline miners to come back online) to add to the network and should increase the speed of block mining.

So what mechanism would benefit the network the most to maintain an average block time? Perhaps the difficultly adjustment shouldn't be too large to shock a miner in either direction, because the more miners that join the network the better (better security, bigger network, etc).

What do you think?

POSTED BY: Steph Macurdy

I think Bitcoin should use less energy by using a proof of stake model instead of proof of work. I think its crazy Bitcoin miners consume more energy than Finland (I saw this in the New York Times somewhere).

POSTED BY: Peter Burbery

I think it would interesting if there was a blockchain with a similar philosophy to the metric system and the International System of Units. For example, the United States imperial system came out of a system of hundreds of weights and measures with as much variety as the number of cryptocurrencies today. By contrast, the metric system was designed by a group of mathematicians and scientists after the French Revolution. Joseph Louis Lagrange, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Gaspard Monge, Marquis de Condorcet and Jean-Charles de Borda worked on the definition of the meter, kilogram, and second. Eventually, the metric system became the International System of Units/SI which was redefined on 20 May 2019. I am wondering if there's a mathematically based cryptocurrency that isn't about new features and making a lot of money.

POSTED BY: Peter Burbery

Peter, alas the choice of money or its unit of account is a choice. No matter how scientific and "objective" we are about its measurement, it is the choice of that unit which is in question. What unit is the best unit? There have been centuries of debate on this. I have my own idea of what might be a good international unit, but each country has the right to choose its own, and in the crypto world or in the private currency world, those groups will also choose the unit that they think suits their goals.

Money and monetary policy whether in a small community, a large community, a nation, or internationally, is not something that should be determined from outside, it needs to endogenous to the system if it is to operate in a stable manner.

Hence I believe it is impossible to think that there is some scientific or objective answer to this question.

POSTED BY: Leanne Ussher

This is how mining is described on one of the sites:

"What motivates miners? The network holds a lottery. Every computer on the network races to be the first to guess a 64-digit hexadecimal number known as a “hash.” The faster a computer can spit out guesses, the more likely the miner is to earn the reward. "

Could you please deliberate. What's the "lottery"? What is given about the number to be "guessed".

More generally (from another description): What kind of math problems are offered? How are they posed?
What are the "initial conditions"?

A few "toy examples" would help. Thanks.

The 'lottery' in question is quite simple. The miners take as input

  1. The current state of the blockchain
  2. Their own address (so that rewards can be awarded to them if they 'win')

    (and this is the "lottery" part of it)

  3. A randomly chosen guess, or 'nonce' number. It can be any 32-bit number.

These three inputs are then fed into a hashing algorithm (specifically double SHA-256), which returns a (pseudo)random number.

If the result of the hash has a sufficient number of leading zeros, i.e. 0000001a34b16a... then the block can be added to the chain, and the reward is added to the miner's address.

In summary, miners guess random numbers, plug them into double SHA-256, and then repeat that process over and over again until somebody gets one that satisfies the above condition. Computers designed for mining are typically specialized hardware (such as ASICs, Application Specific Integrated Circuits) designed exclusively for running SHA-256 over and over.

The 'number of zeros' is actually variable, and is designed to control the 'difficulty' of mining a new block. More leading zeros required means more guesses required, and the condition automatically adjusts so that on average a block is added to the chain every ten minutes or so.

The story of the first transatlantic cable is quite enthralling: https://www.wired.co.uk/article/transatlantic-cables D. Geere "How the first cable was laid across the Atlantic" Wired : BUSINESS 18.01.2011 It prompts some corrections to the Day 1 lecture materials. Thanks. M

Fascinating indeed! I should have clarified that in the 1850s it was not optical fiber being laid deep undersea, instead was copper wire. Was there something else to note, Michael?

POSTED BY: Steph Macurdy

Oh yes, Steph!  

  1. it broke so many times! Just imagine two boats in the ocean laying it down and then pulling it out, again and again? 

  2. Morse himself supervised the project!

  3. Here is also a good example of learning hard way: "On 3 September, 1858, the cable failed. In an attempt to increase the speed of transmission, the voltage on the line was boosted from 600V to 2,000V, and the insulation on the cable couldn't cope. It failed over the course of a few hours, and it would be another six years before the capital was raised for another attempt. "It's still down there", John Kincey, a principal engineer from Cable & Wireless Worldwide and an expert on transatlantic undersea cables, told Wired.co.uk. "Most of them are. They're cleared near the beaches so that they don't interfere with fishing, but in most cases, they're still at the bottom of the sea."And this is a great reminder:" So next time you're reading about a transatlantic fibreoptic cable, remember the steadfast work of Frederick Gisborne and Cyrus Field back in 1858, in a pair of boats in the middle of the Atlantic".

I understand that not all of this fits the "blockchain narrative", but adding a link could be instructive and  ... inspiring. 

Thank you for pointing to this story! Best. M

  • There is possibly an additional relation of the cable story to cryptocurrency. As we've learned, the cables are still there, at the bottom of the ocean. And this provides an opportunity for mining the copper :)

PS: And, btw, "by 1850, a link had been laid between Britain and France". Apparently, this one can be called "the first"

  • Please suggest works ( papers, texts, researchers) that have considered the pros/cons of resorting to software to address social issues?

Henrick-Mario, what you ask regards a huge area of study, and my lectures next week will try to get at precisely this question, although by no means answer it. Software is ubiquitous and its code and the technology around it is directly or indirectly regulating our actions and our engagement with each other and with devices.

A discussion on the regulation of cyberspace (which I presume is what you mean by software - not just blockchain software), its pros and cons, might begin here. https://www.harvardmagazine.com/2000/01/code-is-law-html

A discussion of the affordances that blockchain software creates to incentivize and regulate our behavior in a social setting like a commons could begin here in a research topic that I am editing https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fbloc.2021.577680/full

Samer (one of the authors) is at the Berkman Klein Center for the Internet and Society which is a good place to read about the use of software for addressing social issues.

POSTED BY: Leanne Ussher

Yesterday, on Day 1, we had a question on whether there existed 'quantum encryption' on blockchains. I'm going to ping this question over to @Dariia Porechna and see if she can help answer this.

POSTED BY: Leanne Ussher

So far @Dariia Porechna comment is that 'quantum encryption' is actually less the quantum encryption, but quantum key distribution and quantum-resistant digital signatures.

POSTED BY: Leanne Ussher

As for how quantum computers could affect cryptography: elliptic curves on which most of the blockchains are based on are theoretically vulnerable to quantum algorithms. Blockchains rely their security on elliptic curves signatures, so one obvious step to make a blockchain quantum resistant is to use a quantum resistant digital signature scheme. There are some schemes in the workings but none have been fully declared secure and standardised yet (see https://csrc.nist.gov/Projects/post-quantum-cryptography), so in my opinion blockchains that claim to be quantum resistant today (I leave to readers to find them) are making premature claims. For those who wish to read more here’s a quite comprehensive paper https://publications.iadb.org/publications/english/document/Quantum-Resistance-in-Blockchain-Networks.pdf

POSTED BY: Dariia Porechna

Here are the recommended resources from Day 1's notebook. We will talk about Lessons from the Crypto Wars briefly, and the Bitcoin White Paper in detail today in Day 2 .

Introduction to Cryptography by Dariia Porechna and Wolfram U

Lessons from the Crypto Wars by Danielle Kehl, Andi Wilson and Kevin Bankston

Bitcoin White Paper by Satoshi Nakamoto

POSTED BY: Steph Macurdy

I always find the practical application of prime numbers fascinating.

POSTED BY: Steph Macurdy

I would also like to mention an interesting application of cryptographic mathematics for blockchains to the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search. The modern blockchain financial systems with cryptography such as RSA are based on large prime numbers. For more information I recommend https://www.mersenne.org/ https://eprint.iacr.org/2018/627.pdf

POSTED BY: Peter Burbery

There's an interesting application of NFTs for digital lidar scans of African sculptures housed in British museums at https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-61318785

POSTED BY: Peter Burbery

Really interesting, thanks for sharing Peter!

What do you think would need to happen to validate the provenance of these pieces? And if turned into NFTs, under what authority would people claim the "original" vs the "copy"? This would be trivial if NFTs were created at the moment of the art's inception, but going back into history is more challenging. What do you think?

Quote from article: "We were talking about provenance and ownership of the pieces. What if I was able to take them back and turn them into NFTs?"

Provenance - A record of ownership of a work of art or an antique, used as a guide to authenticity or quality.

POSTED BY: Steph Macurdy

Hi Peter, I'm always looking at practical applications for NFTs. Since you bring up laser technology, rather than LIDAR I've been wondering about using Open Path Lasers for detecting Enteric Methane Reduction with a herd of cows and minting verified Methane abatement NFTs. What do you think? There might be some analytical art involved there as well.

POSTED BY: Leanne Ussher

Steph, Looking forward to our blockchain kick-off today.

Great idea to use this post as a way to collaborate and share ideas, materials and links outside of the online session. Please Reply to Steph's post above for a new thread, or reply directly in the threads below.

Blockchain is a relatively new scientific field of interest, very polemical and fascinating. Please add your questions, view points, and wisdom in this thread.

If you don't have a Wolfram Software - download the Wolfram|One 15-day trial. Then you can download the notebooks and "play along" https://account.wolfram.com/access/wolfram-one/trial

This study group is building up to the creation of a MOOC with notebooks that utilize the computational powers of the Wolfram Language (WL). You can check out courses other than blockchain on the Wolfram-U website: https://www.wolfram.com/wolfram-u/

POSTED BY: Leanne Ussher
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