The next Science Café Cleveland discussion will focus on cryptocurrencies and blockchains. Vincenzo Liberatore, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Case Western Reserve University, will present “Cryptocurrencies and Blockchains: What Are They, and How Are They Connected?” Monday, May 13, at 7 p.m. at Music Box Supper Club (1148 Main Ave., Cleveland).
About the talk
Currencies depend on people’s faith in them. Most traditional currencies are backed by their respective governments. But cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, however, are not. While there has been a meteoric rise in public awareness, there has been no corresponding increase in understanding of how cryptocurrencies can be trusted as a means of exchange, especially since there is no tangible object involved. This is where blockchain—another term that also has been in the news—enters the picture.
Blockchain is the name given to the technology that powers cryptocurrencies. The core of a blockchain is an algorithm for multiple networked computers to reach consensus. For example, the Bitcoin blockchain enables the participants to unanimously agree that a Bitcoin was transferred from one party to another. The most attractive features of the consensus algorithm are that it is fault-tolerant, secure, and resilient to the presence of malevolent actors. This means that, even if you do not know the person on the other end of a transaction, you can be confident that the transaction is secure and permanent. Blockchain, in fact, describes many different types of consensus algorithms and attendant technology, often with radically different characteristics and applications that extend well beyond its original use with cryptocurrencies.
In his talk, Liberatore will review the fundamental algorithms that underpin blockchain, their differences and their applications. He also will explore the implications of the widespread adoption of blockchain, and its possible future developments.