Blockchain Technologies: A Tutorial for Engineering Faculty and Researchers

Guest Speaker:
Nitin Kalé and Bhaskar Krishnamachari

Monday, December 4, 2017
EEB 132

With the soaring price of Bitcoin, and other initial coin offerings raising vast amounts of money this year, some are excited while others fear we are in the midst of another financial bubble. But, setting aside the financial speculation, there is significant potential for engineering innovations and social impact using the Blockchain technologies underlying cryptocurrencies as they present a novel class of programmable platforms providing decentralized trust.

In this special two-hour tutorial, Viterbi faculty Nitin Kale and Bhaskar Krishnamachari will present an accessible, self-contained introduction to Blockchain technologies, their applications, and emerging engineering research opportunities. The first hour will cover the basic ideas and algorithms underlying the public blockchains Bitcoin and Ethereum, including smart contracts and decentralized applications based on blockchain (popularly referred to as DApps). The second hour will cover further topics including permissioned blockchains such as Hyperledger Fabric, consensus algorithms and other alternatives to proof of work, enhancements utilizing directed acyclic graphs, Blockstack for decentralized application-layer Internet protocols, utility tokens for IoT applications ranging from smart grid to smart parking, as well as security issues. We will also discuss some of the open engineering challenges in this space that point to new research opportunities. No prior background in blockchain technologies is assumed; the talk is intended to be broadly accessible to engineering faculty and researchers.

Presenters: Nitin Kalé is an Associate Professor of Engineering Practice in the Information Technology Program (ITP) and the Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) at the Viterbi School of Engineering, University of Southern California.  He has taught at ITP since 1995 in the areas of programming, web design, interactive multimedia, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and data analytics. He has also been teaching at ISE since 2005 in the area of database design and implementation. Nitin’s current areas of interest are blockchain, cryptocurrencies, database modeling, application development, enterprise information systems, business intelligence and big data analytics.

Bhaskar Krishnamachari is Ming Hsieh Faculty Fellow and Professor of Electrical Engineering with a joint appointment in Computer Science, and the Director of the Center for Cyber-Physical Systems and the Internet of Things at USC Viterbi School of Engineering. His research focuses on algorithms and protocols for next-generation networks and he has recently has been exploring the use of blockchain technologies in network protocols and IoT applications.

Tutorial Slides: [slides by Nitin Kalé] [slides by Bhaskar Krishnamachari]

Video of Tutorial