October 2017 Newsletter

We’ve had a busy few weeks since our last update. Below are highlights of some recent and upcoming activities at Blockchain@UBC.

 

Upcoming Events

Vancouver Start-up Week

We collaborated with Blocktech Ventures to deliver a workshop on Sept. 29th 9-1pm.  More information about the event is available online: http://sched.co/CFKL . A video of the event will be uploaded shortly to Blockchain@UBCs Youtube channel

Blockchain@UBC Monthly Meetups

We are starting a series of monthly Blockchain@UBC meetups to build our academic community and create opportunities to network with our industry partners. Please mark your calendars with the following dates and plan to attend!

Tuesday, October 10, Noon-1pm in the Dodson Room, IK Barber Centre.  
Our guest speaker will be Vicki Lemieux, Associate Professor of Archival Science, School of Library, Archival and Information Studies, who will present on her research evaluating whether we can trust blockchain record keeping for recording of land titles. Vicki will also discuss recent work with the Land Title and Survey Authority of BC (LTSA) and research on land transaction recording in Brazil and Sweden. Lunch will be served.  

Thursday, Nov. 9,  6-8pm, UBC Downtown campus.
Our guest speaker will be Marc-David Seidel, the RBC Financial Group Professor of Entrepreneurship, Associate Professor OBHR Division, and Director of the W. Maurice Young Centre for Entrepreneurship & Venture Capital, Sauder School of Business, who will be presenting his ideas on building a sustainable Blockchain innovation ecosystem. There will be wine and cheese with industry partners following the presentation.  

Tuesday, December 12, Noon-1pm.
Our guest speaker will be Blockchain@UBC co-cluster lead Chen Feng, Assistant Professor of Engineering, UBC Okanagan, who will be presenting on his latest blockchain research.  Lunch will be served. 

If you have a new paper out on a blockchain-related topic or would like to present on your blockchain research, please get in touch as we are looking for speakers for Term 2.

Digital ID Design Challenge

We are collaborating with Identity North, the Digital Identity and Authentication Council of Canada (DIAC), and BC Land Titles and Survey Authority (LTSA) to deliver a Design Challenge culminating in a two day conference (IdentityNORTH) on identity management to be held on November 7 & 8 at Telus Garden in Vancouver.  The Digital ID Design Challenge launches today (October 3) - details available here: https://diacc.ca/didc/
 

Upcoming International Conferences

Crypto Economics and Security Conference, October 2-3, UC Berkely, https://cesc.io.

Scaling Bitcoin, November 4 & 5, Stanford.  Drs. Victoria Lemieux, Chen Feng, and Sasha Federova will be attending to represent Blockchain@UBC. Their attendance will be sponsored by the organizers of Scaling Bitcoin and Bitcoin Unlimited, one of Blockchain@UBC’s industry partners.  

 

New Team Members

 

We are pleased to welcome our newest Academic Partners to the team. 


Dr. Alexandra (Sasha) Fedorova has her PhD from Harvard (2006) with a thesis on Operating System Scheduling for Multicore Processors. During her PhD she interned at Sun Microsystems Labs, where she contributed to development of the Niagara processor simulator and experimented with adopting transactional memory in real applications. Between 2006 and 2015 she was an Assistant and then Associate professor at the School of Computing Science at SFU, where she also launched the Big Data professional Master's program in 2014. She joined the ECE department at the University of British Columbia in 2015. Her research focuses on performance, usability and energy-efficiency of computer systems; the current emphasis is on effective management of memory and CPU resources. In her day-to-day life, she measures and hacks operating systems, runtime libraries and other system software. She also teaches courses on all kinds of systems: operating, distributed, Big Data. In her spare time she consults for MongoDB; She works on enhancing performance of their back-end key-value store WiredTiger. 



Dr. Cristie Ford is Associate Professor and Director, Centre for Business Law. Her research focuses primarily on regulatory theory as it relates to international, US and Canadian financial and securities regulation. Her publications have analyzed novel remedies in securities law enforcement, principles-based approaches to securities regulation, systemic risk regulation and the regulation of financial innovation, and prospects for "responsive" financial regulation. She has authored multiple articles and two books: Innovation and the State: Finance, Regulation, and Justice (Cambridge University Press, 2017); and, with His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston and Kathleen Rockwell, the leading text Canadian Securities Regulation (5th ed., 2014).
 
Prior to joining UBC, Professor Ford practiced in securities regulation and administrative law, including at Davis Polk and Wardwell LLP in New York. She obtained her graduate degrees from Columbia Law School, where she also taught in a variety of capacities. Professor Ford edited the interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal Regulation & Governance from 2012 through 2015 and now sits on its Executive Board, the Editorial Board of the Journal of International Economic Law, and the Academic Advisory Board of the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance (CCGG). She has served on several occasions as a consultant to the Canadian Department of Finance. She has lectured in law schools and to academic audiences across North America and in Europe, Australia, and Israel. She was a Killam Faculty Research Fellow in 2012/2013, and in 2015/2016 received the George Curtis Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence.

 

We are pleased to welcome Sean Burke as part-time Director of Research Facilitation and Operations, who is onsite at the Blockchain@UBC office on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  

Sean has more than 17-years of international experience at all levels of project and technical management, working with various global organizations in over 30 countries on projects throughout Africa and Asia. Having worked in collaboration with senior government officials from many countries, Sean has been instrumental in developing policy and capacity building initiatives in identity and data management. He has also worked in a broad range of other sectors including Forensic Science, Environmental Science, Anti-Corruption, Intelligence Analysis, and Stakeholder Engagement. As the author of a highly regarded reference manual on document and identity fraud, published in over a dozen languages in 20+ countries, Sean has also presented at international conferences in Haiti, Kenya, Jordan, Niger, Scotland, South Africa, and Tanzania. 



Dr. Chris Rowell has just joined us from as our new Post-doctoral Research Fellow, working in partnership with 6Sensmatic, one of Blockchain@UBC’s industry partners.

Chris has recently completed his doctorate, where he focused upon communication strategies in new industries and other volatile environments. He is following the emergence of the blockchain field in BC and more broadly, and seeking to identify the different communities involved, their interests and motivations, and whether and how they interact with one another.

In parallel, he studies how entrepreneurs signal their legitimacy and credibility across these highly diverse audiences in order to gain attention and support for their new venture.
New Industry Parters

Bitcoin Unlimited

maintains the open-source Bitcoin client by the same name. The organization's mandates are:

  1. To foster competing implementations of the Bitcoin protocol in order to provide more choice to node operators and to add robustness to the network.
  2. To support the continued growth and adoption of Bitcoin as a peer-to-peer electronic cash system as described in Satoshi Nakamoto's white paper [PDF].

LTSA

The LTSA is established through the Land Title and Survey Authority Act, is a publicly accountable, statutory corporation with a mandate to manage, operate and maintain the land title and survey systems of British Columbia.

The LTSA delivers secure land titles through timely, efficient registration of land title interests and survey records; these services are an essential underpinning to BC's private property market and the civil justice system, and to BC's civic governance, taxation and Crown land management frameworks.

6Sensmatic

is a Toronto based software company focused on developing data analytics software in the finance domain to drive better business decision. They are a unique team of technologists, innovators and designers who strive to solve complex problems with technology solutions.

The projects they have done include:

  • Real-Time Electronic Trading System (Equities, Fixed Income and Credit)
  • Transaction Cost Analysis Application
  • Algorithmic Market Making System
  • Risk System Integration with Various Software Vendors
Research & Education

Research

Strategy and Innovation in blockchain innovations and multisided markets
(Victoria Lemieux, Marc-David Seidel, Chris Rowell, UBC, and 6Sensmatic)

This Mitacs funded research project explores two critical strategic challenges for firms seeking to develop and commercialize blockchain applications. First, new ventures need to communicate with multiple different audiences to gain legitimacy and attract the necessary resources and support to develop and implement those blockchain solutions that are commercially feasible today. At the same time, firms must comprehend and anticipate a future in which blockchains predominate, in order to identify and develop those competences that will help them to compete and capitalize on opportunities as they emerge.


BC Land Titles and Survey Authority (LTSA) Digital ID Design Challenge
(Victoria Lemieux, UBC, and LTSA)

This research contract uses action research and design methodology to explore socio-technical challenges of applying blockchain technology in land transaction record keeping.  


GigaBlock Testnet
(Sasha Fedorova, Chen Feng, Victoria Lemieux, UBC, and Bitcoin Unlimited)

This research project sets up a global network of Bitcoin mining nodes configured to accept blocks of up to one thousand times larger than the current block size (1GB). To those nodes we connect transaction generators, each capable of generating and broadcasting up to 200 transactions per second.  We perform a series of “ramps”, where the transaction generators are programmed to increase their generation rate following an exponential curve starting at 1 tx/second and concluding at 1000 tx/sec to identify bottlenecks and measure performance statistics.

Education

Completion of Summer Open Knowledge Building Initiative and Blockathon, and planning for next year. A great video about our Summer 2017 Blockchain Open Knowledge Learning Initiative Summer Institute, produced by our volunteer student team lead by Hudhaifah Zahid, Shirley Zeng, and Calvin Chiu, has been uploaded to our YouTube channel.

Our partnership with IBM on the delivery of blockchain education was mentioned in this article

Canadian and International Thought Leadership

Our cluster members Luciana Duranti, Victoria Lemieux, and Ning Nan have been working with a team of blockchain researchers across Canada to produce a federal government white paper on blockchain technology. 
 
Cluster lead Victoria Lemieux has been nominated international project lead for the development of blockchain and distributed ledger terminology for the International Standards Organization’s Technical Committee 307 on Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology.

Publications & Reports

Cluster Lead Dr. Victoria Lemieux's paper "Building Trust in Records: Is Blockchain the Answer?” won a 2016 Emerald Literati Outstanding Paper Award.

Professor Marc-David Seidel's paper on 
"Questioning Centralized Organizations in a Time of Distributed Trust" was published in the Journal of Management Inquiry on September 27, 2017. 

Another recent paper, "Network Opportunity Emergence and Identification", presents the theoretical foundations for Professor Marc-David Seidel's recent work on blockchain. 

Locations

UBC Vancouver 

Our main office is located in the Forest Sciences Centre Building, FSC 3641 – 2424 Main Mall, Vancouver. If you are in and around FSC, please do drop by on Tuesdays and Thursdays to say hello (although drop Sean an email just to check that he’ll be in office). 

UBC Okanagan

Assistant Professor Chen Feng, our UBC Okanagan co-cluster lead, is located in office EME 4285, in the School of Engineering - 1137 Alumni Ave, Kelowna, BC. He can be contacted by telephone (Tel: 250-807-8286) or email (chen.feng@ubc.ca). He is hosting a computer node for BSafe.network.

Online Channels

Blockchain@UBC has created some social media channels and we encourage everyone to follow them (see below). We are also encouraging this Slack community to become an open and active forum for discussing Blockchain content. Feel free to invite anyone into the General Channel. You can also share this open invitation to Join our Slack.app Community. 

Our mailing address is:
Forest Sciences Centre Building
FSC 3641 – 2424 Main Mall
Vancouver BC Canada V6T 1Z4


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