Turn blockchain PhD research into marketable software

When doing a PhD, you would like your research to be turned into marketable output, right? Well, if that is your dream, and words like blockchain, smart contracts and oracles fit in your future career goals, then read on. The EIT Digital Doctoral School offers you an industrial doctorate at E-Group ICT Software Zrt. under academic supervision of the ELTE University. Your research will be turned into marketable software. You can apply directly.

How can we provide data privately and securely to smart contracts outside of the blockchain? Smart contracts live in a walled garden. As such, they starve for meaningful, authenticated data from the off-chain world. Authenticated data exchange between smart contracts and the off-chain world (oracles) has the potential to provide powerful services for businesses and organizations. An oracle, in the context of blockchains and smart contracts, is an agent that finds and verifies real-world occurrences and submits this information to a blockchain to be used by smart contracts.

Challenge

Smart contracts are autonomous agents on the Blockchain. Therefore, any application that requires the use of an incorruptible third party, which is most applications, may use a smart contract in place of a centralized trusted third party. The main advantage smart contracts provide apart from not requiring any user intervention is that trust scales better with smart contracts as compared to centralized environments. However, the most compelling use cases of smart contracts, such as financial instruments require data feed from oracles outside the Blockchain. Since smart contracts execute in an adversarial environment, the potential financial gains from an attack provide a strong incentive to rational adversaries to subvert the smart contracts or the services on which they rely. Consequently, it is of critical importance that in such cases data exchange between smart contracts and oracles are authenticated, untampered (integrity), and in some cases intelligible only to desired entities (confidentiality).

This PhD is geared towards researching and proposing new solutions and protocols which will enable smart contracts to gather authenticated data from outside the blockchain.

Approach

The goal of this industrial doctorate is to develop a cryptographically provable protocol / service that has high interoperability with existing off-chain systems. Such a solution could be used in the financial sector with financial instruments as well as in Identity Management Systems where Identity providers serve as the trusted oracles feeding smarts contracts with information about some digital identities. In essence, the expected solution should extend smart contracts to the real world, creating an ecosystem where real world situations can act as secure input to a smart contract.

The objectives for this PhD will be achieved through continuous research, seminars, and experimentation. The research into the current state of the art is conducted by a team of PhD students. At regular intervals, design proposals for a potential solution is shared and discussed at a seminar with at least one expert in the field. Experiments are then performed to test the validity of the proposed design, and lessons learnt are documented. This process is performed repeated until an optimal solution is found.

Expected outcome

The blockchain oracle will be implemented during the program, and refined, utilising the results of the scientific research. If the developed blockchain oracle reaches the necessary maturity, a software product will be created and marketed, thus leveraging the results of the PhD program, and on the other hand, providing user feedback to the research.

Location

The doctoral student involved in this industrial doctorate programme, will share his time between the EIT Digital Doctoral Training Centre in Budapest, the premises of E-Group ICT Software Zrt., and ELTE.

Facts

  • Industrial partner: E-Group ICT Software Zrt.
  • Academic/research partner: ELTE
  • Number of available PhD positions: 1
  • Duration: 4 years
  • This PhD will be funded by EIT Digital, ELTE, and E-Group.

Apply

If you are interested in applying for this position, please send an e-mail to the EIT Digital Budapest DTC lead zoltan.istenes@eitdigital.eu, including a CV, a motivation letter, and documents showing your academic track records.

Please apply before 24 August 2018, 12.00 CET.

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