What can an infinite blockchain computer do?

DFINITY objectives

INTELLIGENT DECENTRALIZED CLOUD

TECHNOLOGY

The Intelligent Decentralized Cloud

DFINITY is building a new kind of public decentralized cloud computing resource. This rests upon a new blockchain computer that is similar in concept to Ethereum but has vastly improved performance and, ultimately, unlimited capacity. Enterprise IT systems running on this computer will be unstoppable and won't need to involve complex components such as databases, backup and restore systems or Amazon Web Services, allowing costs to be cut by 90% or more by reducing the supporting human capital required. Furthermore, it will enable the creation of open source decentralized businesses using self-updating autonomous software systems that may eventually be able to disintermediate and beat out monopolistic organizations such as Uber, eBay, Gmail and others. Such a powerful public resource requires governance, and DFINITY also introduces algorithmic governance in the form of a "Blockchain Nervous System" that can protect users from attacks and help restart broken systems, dynamically optimize network security and efficiency, upgrade the protocol and mitigate misuse of the platform, for example by those wishing to run illegal or immoral systems. The network will be highly disruptive and is being developed by a team of visionary and heavy hitting scientists and engineers unlike anything seen in crypto before.

Crypto:3

Performance and unlimited capacity

Security. Speed. Scale.

The DFINITY project was formed to research ways of enabling public decentralized networks to host a virtual computer of potentially unlimited capacity. The starting requirement was that the systems developed should be useful in joining 1 million or more mining clients. We also sought vastly superior performance than is available today.

Our core approach is counterintuitive and ironically - for such a feat of organization - involves random numbers. A DFINITY network involves a top-level Threshold Relay chain that produces randomness and progresses with minimal "reorganizations" while addressing many of the technical vulnerabilities that have bedevilled the industry such as "selfish mining" or "nothing at stake". The random heartbeat produced by the chain drives other crypto:3 systems the network depends upon, while recording a single root hash that anchors all the data stored in the virtual computer, no matter how large it gets.

Threshold Relay generates randomness by applying the BLS cryptography scheme from Stanford University in a new way.

Finality and User Experience

A key challenge for decentralized cloud networks is finalizing computational transactions quickly. Currently, computations only become final after some minutes, and developers of applications such as decentralized financial exchanges struggle to communicate this to their users and provide an acceptable user experience. DFINITY uses Threshold Relay chains to address current limitations.

Network Confirms Finality Variance
Bitcoin 6 60 mins Very high
Ethereum 25 6 minutes High
DFINITY 2 5-10 seconds Low

More Computation

DFINITY is designed to scale-out to handle unlimited computation, but even in the initial Copper release the network will provide dramatic gains without implementing the crypto:3 scale-out systems scheduled to start appearing in Tungsten. This is because Threshold Relay chains do not involve the "Poisson process" of Proof-of-Work systems and miners can spend known periods of time validating transactions without suffering commercial disadvantage.

Network Gas Available for Computation / block
Bitcoin ---
Ethereum 5M
DFINITY 125 - 250M

Blockchain Nervous System

Algorithmic Governance

Decentralized Intelligence

DFINITY is a different kind of decentralized world compute platform. It is platform managed by a decentralized intelligence integrated into its systems that can make arbitrary changes. This acts to mitigate misuse, protect users, fix problems, optimize network configuration and seamlessly upgrade its protocols.

For more information on the workings of the Blockchain Nervous System see these posts 1 and 2 or the FAQ. The system depends upon human-controlled "neurons" operated by special client software. These follow each other and cascade to decisions. Neurons are created by depositing dfinities and earn rewards for performance of voting services. While the expertise within the crowd is leveraged, follow relationships exist at the edges of the network making the decision process unknowable, protecting participants.

User Protection

In DFINITY the "Code is Law" is contingent upon the decisions of the nervous system. As we have seen, with the recent Bitfinex theft and hack of The DAO, hackers steal keys and can sometimes break smart contract systems with design flaws. A key purpose of the BNS is to return funds where possible, and reverse the damage of hacks. The BNS can also fix systems that have simply failed due to engineering errors, such as a complex autonomous system that has deadlocked.

This increases comfort for consumers and businesses alike, many of whom will be unable to adopt decentralized systems without such protection and recourse.

Faster Evolution

In systems such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, upgrades to the protocol occur as a result of contentious and disruptive "hard forks". In DFINITY there is no equivalent notion and the BNS upgrades the protocol transparently on a regular basis, quickly introducing fixes and optimizations and driving network evolution forward as quickly as possible.

Adaptive Network

The Blockchain Nervous System also dynamically manages economic parameters. This can be to optimize network ecomomics, for example by increasing the cost of connecting new mining resources to prevent over capacity, or protect security, for example by increasing the deposit of dfinities needed to create a "mining identity" because the value of dfinities has fallen on the markets.

Interoperability

Connectivity Rules

Internet Model

We have become accustomed to the Internet model, where services on private local area networks (LANs) can connect out into public services on the wider Internet. For example, people share access to services such as Gmail, Facebook or a financial exchange. But today, no equivalent system exists in decentralized cloud computing. A private cloud network created using Ethereum technology is isolated and the smart contract software it hosts cannot call into systems hosted on the public network. DFINITY changes this.

Multi-Network Systems

The crypto:3 underpinnings of DFINITY unlock new functionality. The ZINC release of DFINITY will allow software methods called at the hightest level on private systems to be "decorated" with a single call to a system installed on the public DFINITY network. The system then ensures that either both the private and public method are executed, or neither is executed (the technical term is that code execution is "atomic"). Now a single call to software can result in computation taking place on otherwise separate decentralized networks!

Network Effects

DFINITY provides network effects for its users. For example, one network could push a carbon credit to a public exchange, and another could consume it.

Rapid System Development

While many private networks will be run by corporations, adding some services will be beyond their practical budgets and expertise. For example, a supply chain system designed to connect suppliers and help them raise trade financing against invoices might usefully incorporate stable currency, identity, arbitration and haulage market functionality. DFINITY allows open versions of such services to be created on its public chain, and then incorporated by private networks in the form of building blocks.

R & D Team

Want to join our wonderful team? Please let us know!

Our core team is growing fast - this is only a sample of our people as they routinely receive distracting attention from recruiters. Make contact with us if you would like to work on some of the most exciting technology on the planet. Commercial and academic research organizations can also second staff to DFINITY and have their costs covered. Contact us for information.

Timo Hanke

Timo Hanke

Director of Engineering

Timo was once a Professor of Mathematics and Crytography at Aachen University in Germany but got into Bitcoin. He recently became famous for his 2013 work on AsicBoost that increases the efficiency of Bitcoin mining by 20-30% enabling one canny miner who quietly adopted his system to earn up to $100M extra!

Ben Lynn

Ben Lynn

Staff Scientist and Engineer

Ben Lynn is the "L" from the "BLS" cryptography applied by "Threshold Relay" to generate randomness and achieve incredible security, speed and scale in public networks. Once a Stanford PhD under Dan Boneh, Ben joined the DFINITY team after 10 years in senior engineering roles at Google. Ben writes many papers

Shigeo Mitsunari

Shigeo Mitsunari

Staff Cryptographer

Shiego is one of the world's most talented writers of high performance cryptography libraries. He has interests in pairing implementations, x86/x64 optimization and machine learning, and is also the publisher of several academic works. His BLS implementations for DFINITY improved earlier state-of-the-art by more than 10X.

Dominic Williams

Dominic Williams

Chief Scientist

Dominic is a crypto nerd. His recent novel designs include Threshold Relay and PSP chains, Validation Towers, Validation Trees and USCIDs, and he proposes new ideas such as "The 3 E's of Sybil Resistance". In a previous life he created a fast growing MMO game using his own distributed systems that hosted some millions of users.

Mahnush Movahedi

Mahnush Movahedi

Senior Researcher and Engineer

Mahnush joined DFINITY from a postdoctoral postition at Yale Univesity working on scalable and fault-tolerant distributed algorithms for consensus and secure multi-party computation, secret sharing, and interactive communication over noisy channels. She writes many papers.

Enzo Haussecker

Enzo Haussecker

Senior Engineer

Enzo is an Applied Mathematics BSc from San Diego who has built and maintined high-throughput computing infrastructures for several high-growth startups in Silicon Valley. He now spends his time writing Go, reading cryptography papers and nerding out in the land of DFINITY blockchain computer decentralization.

Martin Becze

Martin Becze

Virtual Machine Research

Martin is a hacker and researcher interested in building open decentralized networks. His current work for DFINITY focuses on repurposing the WASM virtual machine for blockchain computer networks. As an active and well known contributor within the Ethereum community he brings deep experience, insights and expertise.

Matthew Di Ferr...

Matthew Di Ferr...

Associate - Research/Engineering

Matthew lends part-time assistance while heading up blockchain for Clearmatics, a company applying crypto technology within the financial industry. A talented engineer, he has won several awards including Smart Contract Security at 2016 Thomson Reuters HackETHon (Ethereum Hackathon) and has contributed to several papers.

Robert Lauko

Robert Lauko

Associate - Research/Community

Robert is a Swiss lawyer by profession who works on DFINITY research, community outreach and our Zurich operations. His research interests focus on how Proof-of-Stake protocols can separate power and wealth to increase democracy, and the interplay with Sybil resistance and other needs of decentralized networks.

The Decentralized and Distributed Systems (DEDIS) Group at EPFL (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne) has two members working full time on DFINITY at any one moment. The following DEDIS members contribute.

Prof. Bryan Ford

Prof. Bryan Ford

DEDIS Team Lead

Bryan focuses broadly on building secure decentralized systems, touching on topics including private and anonymous communication technologies, Internet architecture, and secure operating systems. He received the Jay Lepreau Best Paper Award at OSDI, and grants from NSF, DARPA, and ONR, including the NSF CAREER award.

Philipp Jovanovic

Philipp Jovanovic

Research Scientist

Philipp completed his PhD in cryptography in 2015 at the Faculty of Computer Science and Mathematics of the University of Passau, Germany with his thesis receiving the 2016 dissertation award of the University of Passau in the area of mathematics / computer science. He is interested in cryptography and decentralized systems. Philip writes papers.

Eleftherios K'-Kogias

Eleftherios K'-Kogias

Doctoral Researcher

Lefteris's research focuses on decentralized trust systems increasing the robustness and transparency of today’s Internet, scalable blockchain systems, bias-resistant decentralized randomness generation, secure software update dispersion and novel applications of threshold cryptography and distributed consensus. He writes papers.

Prof. Ewa Syta

Prof. Ewa Syta

Research Scientist

Ewa is interested in generating "good" and verifiable randomness in a distributed setting, strongest-link collective authorities ("cothorities") and improving anonymous communication technologies, privacy-preserving biometric authentication schemes and anonymous, deniable authentication methods. Ewa writes papers.

Stevens Le Blond

Stevens Le Blond

Research Scientist

Stevens is postdoc researcher at DEDIS who has a particular interest in creating networks and systems that support anonymous communication. This is ambitious recent efforts in this regard are reflected in his work on the Aqua and Herd systems. He also writes papers.

Linus Gasser

Linus Gasser

Software Engineer

Linus works as a software engineer focused on the practical implementation of decentralized cryptographic algorithms and systems.

Cristina Basescu

Cristina Basescu

Doctoral Researcher

Cristina works on distributed systems with recent projects including "Poster low-latency blockchain consensus". She also writes papers.

Nicolas Gailly

Nicolas Gailly

Security Software Engineer

Nicolas works as a security software engineer focused on the practical implementation of decentralized cryptographic algorithms and systems.




Operational Roles

Want to join our wonderful team? Please let us know!
Tom Ding

Tom Ding

CEO String Labs & SV Liaison

Tom is CEO of String Labs, a Silicon Valley investor, incubator and studio focused on open protocol crypto projects. String Labs helped incubate the DFINITY project during 2016, and continues assisting DFINITY Stiftung house engineers in Silicon Valley. Tom has worked in the crypto industry since 2013, relocating from Shanghai in 2012.

Artia Moghbel

Artia Moghbel

Director of Communications

Artia brings extensive execution experience as a serial startup entrepreneur and venture capitalist from Silicon Beach in LA (where his firm backed an MMO game and online network created by Dominic). He joins the DFINITY Stiftung team with the aim of honing its PR, marketing, community communications, social media and investor relations processes.

Derek Minter

Derek Minter

Head of Talent Acquisition

Derek chases talent, which is made easier because everyone loves him !! In the distant past he was a recruiter at Google, later leaving and setting up Honeybadgr in 2014, the first crypto-focused head hunter in the world. Derek is connected to everyone and likes to talk. If you want to work for DFINITY, contacting Derek is a great place to start :)