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Dedicated blockchain project arrives at the University of Sydney

A dedicated blockchain group will now become a reality at the University of Sydney, thanks to a new partnership with secure smart contract and cyrptocurrency payments platform, Fantom.

Led by Associate Professor of Computer Science, Bernhard Scholz, the initial funding will support a specialised research group which will build a new programming toolchain through open source research and software artefacts. The group aims to create automatic bug-checking software for safer smart contract development.

“With the incredible research grant and support that we’ve received from Fantom, this project will help the University of Sydney deliver research papers, software artefacts, and opportunities in higher education that have never been seen before in the blockchain space,” said Professor Bernhard Scholz.

“As educators, it’s our job to provide students with as much experience and as many tools as possible to succeed in the industries of today. Blockchain has played a dominant role in the evolution of programming, and we look forward to contributing its advancement through our work with Fantom.”

The research partnership will focus on four key areas:

  • Programming methodology for smart contracts, which includes education and tutorials on blockchain’s new programming environment.

  • Programming language for smart contracts which aims to extend current programming language solidity so it becomes safer to use.

  • Producing a verifying compiler that translates solidity (or an extension of it) to a virtual machine.

  • A new, energy efficient, virtual machine with a compact bytecode format.

The partnership will sponsor post doctoral degrees and professors with the aim to increase blockchain-focused research and initiatives in higher education. It will also provide developers with the hands-on research experience necessary to develop programming language techniques and formal methods.

According to Fantom CEO, Dr Byung Ik Ahn, the partnership will provide the opportunity to accelerate the mainstream adoption of blockchain technology, putting the University at the forefront of the industry.

“Fantom is very excited to partner with the University of Sydney, as we believe the experienced faculty and talented students are uniquely qualified to improve smart contract functionality and create a new programming language that can help advance the entire ecosystem.”

The growth of cryptocurrencies and distributed ledger technology is also creating a real need for solutions which encourage scalability whilst addressing security concerns, both of which the new research group is hoping to address.

“With a market capitalisation of over $200 billion, the need for increased security in cryptocurrencies and distributed ledgers is paramount given the immense value,” said Mr Kong, Chief Information Officer at Fantom.

“This partnership will enable safer smart contract programming while also providing the hands on experience necessary to drive blockchain innovation and development,” he concluded.

The collaboration follows the recent publication of a co-authored research paper by Associate Professor Scholz and former student, Michael Kong, MadMax: Surviving Out-of-Gas Conditions in Ethereum Smart Contracts, which was awarded a A 2018 ACM SIGPLAN Conference on Object-Oriented Programming, Systems, Languages, and Applications (OOPSLA’18) Distinguished Paper Award.

Based in South Korea, Fantom is a fast, scalable and secure DAG-based smart contract platform that is creating efficiencies within cryptocurrency and is helping augment existing public distributed ledger technology.

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