Cornell and Tsinghua Unite in China for Third Annual Blockchain Workshop

Elite universities join forces to host International Workshop on Blockchain, powered by a grant from Social Alpha Foundation, with Ethereum Co-founder Vitalik Buterin set to deliver keynote

Xi’an, China – December 6, 2018 – Cornell University, an Ivy League research university, and Tsinghua University (清华大学), a member of the elite C9 League of Chinese universities, have joined forces to host the International Workshop on Blockchain due to take place in Xi’an, China.

The event was made possible by a US$150,000 grant from not-for-profit platform Social Alpha Foundation, aimed at blockchain projects for social good, as well as sponsorship from the Xi’An High Tech Zone, the Institute for Interdisciplinary Information Core Technology (IIICT), and the Conflux Foundation. The workshop will take place from December 10 to 14 at the Holiday Inn Xi’an Greenland Century City in the High-Tech Industries Development Zone (XHTZ), one of the most successful of China’s 114 national high-tech zones.

The workshop was originally founded and hosted by Andrew Yao (姚期智), Dean of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Information Sciences (IIIS) at Tsinghua University and winner of the A.M. Turing Award in 2000 for his contributions to the theory of computation, and Elaine Shi, Associate Professor of Computer Science at Cornell University and Co-founder of ThunderCore, who wrote the first academic research paper on Bitcoin and decentralized smart contracts.

This marks the third year that the two universities have collaborated on the Blockchain Winter School, following successful installments in 2016 on security and cryptography, and in 2017 on blockchain, which were held in Shenzhen and Beijing respectively.

The 150-person invitation-only event will include a keynote by Thiel Fellow and Ethereum Co-founder, Vitalik Buterin; Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Jacob Leshno; and Stanford University Ph.D. student, Ben Fisch.

Dean Yao (姚期智) said: “Blockchain is an innovative technology that has great potential to transform today’s business models and processes. Blockchain’s scientific inspiration originated from computer science and economics, and its successful future growth and development rely vitally on the continuing interaction and collaboration of scientists from many distinct disciplines. This workshop will allow like-minded individuals, all with a shared purpose of advancing the technology, to come together and learn from each other.”

The event, which is powered by funding from not-for-profit, grant-making platform Social Alpha Foundation, will feature talks on the Automatic Exploitation of Ethereum Smart Contracts, Decentralized Mining in Centralized Pools, Initial Coin Offerings and Platform Building, Zero-Knowledge Proof (ZKP), and Oblivious RAM (ORAM) by speakers from some of the world’s most renowned companies and universities including Google, Princeton University, MIT, UC Berkeley, and King’s College London.

Associate Professor Shi said: “Blockchain and cryptocurrencies are exciting; they are a goldmine for research problems at the intersection of cryptography, programming languages, and economics. I hope that this winter school will allow Cornell and Tsinghua to foster long-term collaborations. I would like to thank our sponsors including Social Alpha Foundation, the Xi’An High Tech Zone, the Institute for Interdisciplinary Information Core Technology (IIICT), and the Conflux Foundation for supporting our event this year.”

Nydia Zhang (張子寒), Co-founder and Chairman of Social Alpha Foundation, which counts New America’s Blockchain Trust Accelerator and the United Nations Office of Project Services, among its grantees, said: “At Social Alpha Foundation, we believe that blockchain harnesses global distributed networks and communities that can change the world together, and this fantastic initiative is a prime example of how the power of blockchain can connect people and talent.”

“Tsinghua University and Cornell University are both pillars of academic excellence when it comes to promoting collaboration and advancement through education, and we hope by including social impact as a new track at the Workshop, the world’s brightest blockchain technologists will attain a sharper understanding of how to apply technology to the world’s challenges,” she continued.

Founded in 2017, Social Alpha Foundation focuses on supporting blockchain education and outreach to empower communities to utilize blockchain technology for social good. It provides no-strings funding to companies and projects that educate communities on blockchain for social change, as well as non-commercial blockchain applications that focus on improving public health, education, and the environment.

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