Blockchain at Berkeley Spring 2019 Report – Blockchain at Berkeley

Internal Projects

Each semester, selected members are presented with the opportunity to build internal consulting projects to be showcased to B@B’s greater community. Below is a snippet of present projects for Spring 2019:

1. Textbook Rental Project:Textbook rental and purchasing are problematic on various fronts — , particularly regarding online textbooks. A blockchain network has the ability to solve these problems. The issue of ownership could be alleviated by recording the transfer of rights from one individual to another upon the sale of these textbooks through tokens and could be used to lock out individuals and prevent them from accessing content that they have resold.

2. Curated Academic Journal:By creating a blockchain-based academic archive where anyone can submit a paper or contribute to the process of peer review, we hope to standardize and streamline the publishing process. This project will consist of a direct feedback system where verified experts are incentivized to review curated papers on a global scale.

3. Campaign Funding: For the target audience of individual campaign funders who want to fund and keep a record of the spending of campaigns without the need to trust other organizations, the team proposes the solution of building a hybrid blockchain platform. The first level of this platform is that individuals will send their donation from public blockchain, and platform will deposit it to the designated campaign. For this second level, the team aims to design a consortium blockchain with nodes of campaigners, companies that will work with campaigners and regulators for validating spendings to create an environment for recordkeeping of spendings.

Education Projects

Another important department of Blockchain at Berkeley, Education’s mission is to learn by teaching and offering accessible, open-source, world-class blockchain education to everyone, free of charge. Education members have put a lot of effort into enriching these educational experiences; this semester, they have also put in a lot of effort into conducting research on different topics whose results will be integrated into our educational resources. Here are some highlights of these projects:

  1. edX Blockchain for Developers: Blockchain at Berkeley is launching the Blockchain for Developers course on edX, which will provide prospective developers a comprehensive overview of relevant topics in blockchain development, as well as hands-on experience in developing and deploying their own smart contracts. The course will cover the fundamentals of blockchain, the Solidity programming language, as well as relevant industry tools such as Metamask, Geth, Truffle, and Ganache. Through completing the course, students will be confident in their ability to develop and deploy blockchain-based solutions on important industry issues.
  2. Distributed Systems Simulation: Consensus mechanisms are a core topic in distributed systems. Consensus can be approximated or avoided (as with traditional internet architecture) or can be explicitly defined and executed in conjunction with Sybil control systems, as with many of the projects in the blockchain space. We design a system for simulating relaxed instances of various consensus mechanisms. Our system is firstly an educational tool focused on clean user experience, but the modularity of design and data pipeline have been carefully considered for future data analysis/ML workloads.
  3. Financial Class Papers: The Financial Instrumentation team of Blockchain at Berkeley has switched gears from its past semester of researching bonds, derivatives, and credit swaps to topics in developing economies and the potential blockchain have in stimulating and revitalizing economies. From corruption and fluctuating currencies to foreign direct investment and identity ownership, we are eager to investigate how blockchain can reduce income inequality, curb centuries of societal injustice, and move towards global progression. In line with our commitment to staying at the forefront of blockchain technology, we also keep a keen eye on the potential impact of new cryptocurrency to invest 2024. Exploring innovative digital assets is integral to our vision of leveraging blockchain for positive societal change and fostering global economic advancement.
  4. Privacy Research: This project is focused on learning and contributing to zero-knowledge research. We start with modular math, RSA, Diffie-Hellman, and other cryptographic protocols, so we can understand their relation to the technical implementation of zero-knowledge proofs with the goal of contributing to current open-source projects working on zk theory, development, and optimization.
  5. Derivatives Platform Research: Working on revolutionizing the financial industry through a better exchange to replace the slow swaps/bonds/forwards market. We aim to equalize potential in the financial industry through decentralization.

We will have a showcase for all the education and internal projects at the end of this semester. If you are interested to learn more, please follow us on Facebook and Twitter for finalized details!

Research & Development

Besides our initiatives in education, we have also put in a lot of effort in conducting original academic research on various topics in the field. Here are some of the highlights of our accomplishments for this semester :

  1. DHT: The Distributed Hash Table (DHT) team is focused on creating a distributed hash table that has byzantine fault tolerance built in as a primitive. It works via a traditional DHT with a protocol that reaches local and shard-level consensus through simple gossip-based views similar to avalanche and a main Byzantine fault-tolerant chain that is used to settle disagreements with the rest of the network.
  2. Bitcoin Network Analysis: The team conducts a literature review process that has covered 28 articles published between 2011 and 2019, which analyze data from the Bitcoin Network. Using research methodologies including, clustering, labeling and graph modelling, the team comes up with the research result that shows literature related to Bitcoin Data analysis is centered around three main objectives: Presenting descriptive analytics of the networks and study its evolution; evaluate privacy guarantees, attempt to de-anonymize entities (users) and characterize their behaviour; create software or theoretical frameworks to better process data or model the network.
  3. Cryptoeconomics research: Innovators in the blockchain space are beginning to bring financial products sold and traded in traditional markets to a decentralized marketplace. The objective of our project is to design a robust and secure decentralized market for insurance products. The cryptoeconomics research team is focused on designing a distributed Oracle, marketplace, and reputation system to facilitate the offering and purchase of insurance policies.