What Makes Bitcoin Great? One Scientist is On a Quest to Find Out

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Visa, PayPal, bitcoin. The last, it seems, is not like the others.

You might be thinking, well, of course. It’s unique compared to older institutions, ones that first made digital currency possible by storing payment data in centralized databases.

But, that might be only one way of looking at it.

Computer scientists and developers are quick to note that the reason bitcoin has succeeded at decentralizing its monetary system is because it improves on past computer consensus protocols, a point that Cornell associate professor Elaine Shi stressed in her presentation at the recent Stanford blockchain security conference.

Even after 30 years of research, Shi explained, classical consensus protocols fail under certain conditions. But she believes bitcoin is different because it’s more “robust”.

However, defining and mathematically spelling out these differences isn’t so easy to do.

Shi told CoinDesk:

“The protocol’s success is kind of ahead of the scientific understanding.”

Despite the challenge, the academic seems determined to catch up.

Sitting in the cold after a long day of security presentations, she chatted excitedly about bitcoin’s unique properties.

She noted that other recent research has sought to develop a formal security proof for bitcoin, and that thinkers from IC3 and elsewhere are now looking to help flag potential vulnerabilities

Read more ... source: CoinDesk

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