The outline for the grant is overly specific, aimed at candidates who will be able to help define a “rigorous scientific foundation” for cryptocurrency. Six researchers from three universities will be claiming it. Cornell, University of Maryland, and UC Berkeley all have researchers involved.
The researchers will reportedly focus on smart contracts. The National Science Foundation has made other awards focusing on cryptocurrency in the past. One such project was called “Addressing the challenges of cryptocurrencies: Security, anonymity, stability.” The government awarded $500,000 for that project. Now the researchers will be working with a combined total of $3 million.
The description of the grant specifically says the researchers may have to develop a new cryptocurrency.
This work aims to establish a rigorous scientific foundation for crypto-currencies. To achieve this, this work blends cryptography, game theory, programming languages, and systems security techniques. Expected outcomes include new crypto-currency designs with provable security properties, financially enforceable cryptographic protocols whose security properties are backed by enforceable payments in case of a breach, smart contract systems that are easy to program and formally verifiable, as well as high-assurance systems for storing and handling high-value crypto-currencies and transactions.
The funding will run until June 2018. The government, especially the National Science Foundation, continues to show interest in cryptocurrencies. Although there have been governmental efforts to regulate Bitcoin, such as the BitLicense in New York, there have also been initiatives such as this one by the British Treasury. Governments have also taken interests in other aspects of the technology, such as Honduras using Factom for land title registry.
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