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Invited Speakers

Published on 12 April 2019

    Computer Science
    • Amr El Abbadi, University of California Santa Barbara (USA) 
      •   Title: Demystifying Blockchains: Decentralized and Fault-tolerant Storage for the Future of Big Data? (in collaboration with: Divy Agrawal, Mohammad Amiri, Sujaya Maiyya, Victor Zakhary)
      •   Abstract: Bitcoin is a successful and interesting example of a global scale peer-to-peer cryptocurrency that integrates many techniques and protocols from cryptography, distributed systems, and databases. The main underlying data structure is blockchain, a scalable fully replicated structure that is shared among all participants and guarantees a consistent view of all user transactions by all participants in the cryptocurrency system. The novel aspect of Blockchain is that historical data about all transactions is maintained in the absence of any central authority. This property of Blockchain has given rise to the possibility that future applications will transition from centralized databases to a fully decentralized storage based on blockchains. In this talk, we start by developing an understanding of the basic protocols used in blockchain, and elaborate on their main advantages and limitations. To overcome these limitations, we will explore some of the challenges of managing large scale fully replicated ledgers in the context of achieving large scale consensus. Finally, we ponder over recent efforts to use blockchains in diverse applications.
        •   Bio: Amr El Abbadi is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He received his B. Eng. from Alexandria University, Egypt, and his Ph.D. from Cornell University. Prof. El Abbadi is an ACM Fellow, AAAS Fellow, and IEEE Fellow.  He was Chair of the Computer Science Department at UCSB from 2007 to 2011.  He has served as a journal editor for several database journals, including, The VLDB Journal, IEEE Transactions on Computers and The Computer Journal. He has been Program Chair for multiple database and distributed systems conferences. He currently serves on the executive committee of the IEEE Technical Committee on Data Engineering (TCDE) and was a board member of the VLDB Endowment from 2002 to 2008. In 2007, Prof. El Abbadi received the UCSB Senate Outstanding Mentorship Award for his excellence in mentoring graduate students. In 2013, his student, Sudipto Das received the SIGMOD Jim Gray Doctoral Dissertation Award. Prof. El Abbadi is also a co-recipient of the Test of Time Award at EDBT/ICDT 2015. He has published over 300 articles in databases and distributed systems and has supervised over 35 PhD students.
    • - Dahlia Malkhi, VMware Research Group (USA)
      •   Title: Flexible BFT: Separating BFT Protocol Design from the Fault Model
      •   Abstract: Byzantine Fault Tolerant (BFT) protocols designed for building replicated services collapse 

        if deployed under settings that differ from the fault model they are designed for.
          For example, in a partial-synchrony model, a known lower bound for BFT is 1/3. Optimal-resilience solutions completely break if the fraction of Byzantine faults exceeds 1/3.  The only way we know to achieve > 1/3 resilience is by assuming synchrony, but this requires the protocol to be designed with that assumption.
          Flexible BFT is a new approach to BFT protocol design that separates between the fault model and the solution.  Clients in Flexible BFT specify (i) the adversarial threshold they need to tolerate, and (ii) whether they believe in synchrony (and the presumed bound on transmission delays).
          We present a Flexible BFT solution that simultaneously supports different clients, who differ simply by the number of messages and/or time the clients are willing to wait for. At an even finer grain, Flexible BFT supports under the same solution high-value and low-value transactions, each tolerating a different threat model.

        •   Bio: Dahlia Malkhi carries applied and foundational research in broad aspects of reliability and security in distributed systems since the early nineties.
        •   In 2014, after the closing of the Microsoft Research Silicon Valley lab, she co-founded  VMware Research and became a Principal Researcher at VMware. From 2004-2014, she was a principal researcher at Microsoft Research, Silicon Valley. From 1999-2007, she was a tenured associate professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 2004, leaving for a brief sabbatical at Microsoft Research, she was bitten by the Silicon Valley bug and stayed there.
        •   Dr. Malkhi was elected ACM fellow in 2011, received the IBM Faculty award in 2003 and 2004, and the German-Israeli Foundation (G.I.F.) Young Scientist career award 2002.
        •   She currently co-leads the VMware blockchain research project.
        •   In the past decade, she founded and led the Corfu project, a database-less database. The Corfu data platform currently drives VMware's NSX-T distributed control plane. [Corfu github repo]
            Her homepage is




    • - Catherine Casamatta, Toulouse School of Economics (France) 
          •   Title: Equilibrium Bitcoin Pricing
          •   Abstract: TBA
            •   Bio: TBA
  • - Lin William Cong, University of Chicago Booth School of Business (USA)
        •   Title: Tokenomics: Asset Pricing and Corporate Finance in the Platform Economy
        •   Abstract: TBA
          •   Bio: TBA