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Blockchain: Computer Science Foundations, Positive Social and Business Impact, and Research Opportunities

Hank Korth

Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Lehigh University

Abstract: To start, basic concepts of blockchain systems will be introduced assuming only a basic background in computing. The key properties that distinguish blockchains from traditional databases will be explained along with an introduction to the mathematical concepts that make them possible.  

We next survey briefly current and emerging blockchain applications and their benefits to business and to society as a whole.  

The latter and main part of the talk presents research currently underway at Lehigh:

  • Acceleration of the generation of zero-knowledge proofs on modern parallel architectures,
  • A consensus mechanism for the implementation of global-scale central-bank digital currencies in a manner that allows privacy along with transparency and regulatability, 
  • A framework for benchmarking blockchain systems, including current work extending the existing framework to layer-2 blockchain systems

We conclude with a brief survey of other development projects in Lehigh Blockchain with industry partners.

Bio:  Korth’s current research is focused in blockchain systems, with an emphasis on blockchain system internals and applications in financial systems. For full details on his blockchain work, spanning research and education, see More broadly, Korth’s research focuses on database systems, information systems and distributed systems. He is co-author of Database Systems Concepts, now in its seventh edition. Previously, Korth was Director of Database Principles Research at Bell Laboratories, Vice President of Panasonic Technologies, and Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Austin. Korth is a Fellow of the ACM and the IEEE. At the 1995 International Conference on Very Large Data Bases, his paper “A Model of CAD Transactions” was chosen as “Most Influential Paper from the Proceedings of Ten Years Ago.”  At Lehigh, he has served as department chair and directed the Lehigh-unique Computer Science and Business degree.  He currently holds a concurrent courtesy appointment in the Decision and Technology Analytics Department in Lehigh’s College of Business and is director of the Blockchain Lab in Lehigh’s Center for Financial Services.