Research Focus Class

Our Research Focus Classes (RFC) are a special kind of lecture: they are more interactive and research oriented than typical lectures. Students participating in an RFC should be aware that they are not only getting in touch with real research but also have to expect doing independent work.

WS 17/18: Blockchain Technology and Smart Contracts

  • SWS: V3/Ü2, ECTS: 6
  • Study programs: Master Informatik (Software und Kommunikation), Master Software Systems Engineering (Communication), Master Media Informatics
  • Dates: Kick-off: Friday, October 13, 12:15 pm @ COMSYS room 9006. Note: Registration for the RFC is closed.
  • Further information: CAMPUS
  • Registration and questions: contact Roman Matzutt

Motivation

Blockchain technology was first introduced as the main conceptual contribution of the now-famous digital currency Bitcoin. Nowadays, blockchain technology secures digital currencies worth billions of dollars. Yet, blockchain technology also promises to revolutionize other sectors as well, e.g., supply chain management or car sharing. This is due to the fact that for the first time blockchain technology allows parties that do not trust each other to reach irrevocable consensus about events without trusted third parties: Examples include payment verification or delivery of construction parts by sub-contractors.

A generalization of blockchain technology is the concept of smart contracts, as popularized especially by Ethereum. Instead of only recording events in the blockchain, it is also possible to deploy programs that can react to events, so-called smart contracts. This way, a smart contract can be seen as a distributed program without need to trust any particular party to successfully execute it. In this Research Focus Class, we want to analyze existing smart contracts and develop novel applications for this cutting-edge technology. If you are interested in exploring this brand-new area of research and engineering, join our Research Focus Class in winter term 2017/18!

Structure of the Research Focus Class

The RFCs are research-oriented courses following an interactive schema. To do so, we give a short introductory lecture about the topic (4 lecture slots). This lecture phase is accompanied by small homework tasks to get familiar with the Ethereum tool chain. Afterwards in the analysis phase, you identify interesting smart contract-based projects (if necessary, we will help you with this) and prepare a short presentation on the idea. Based on these findings, we will then develop new ideas for smart contract-based applications. In the remainder of the class you then should realize your idea in the form of a mini project. Finally, you present your results to the other participants and the COMSYS group.

The five introductory lecture slots will be:

  1. Introduction to Blockchain Technology
  2. Basics of Ethereum
  3. Introduction to Smart Contract Programming
  4. Smart Contract Optimization

Overall, we have the following rough time schedule:

  • Lecture Phase: October-November
    • Dates to be determined (probably once per week)
    • Getting up to speed!
    • Learn about examples, approaches, tools, ...
    • Hands-on supplementary homework tasks to practice what you learned
  • Concept Phase: November-December
    • Analyze an openly accessible smart contract
    • First interaction with real smart contracts, rough idea generation
    • Present your idea to the other participants
  • Mini Project: December-March
    • Develop your idea
    • Get your hands dirty!
    • Short presentation/demo

Prerequisites

This class will serve as an introduction on how to conduct research in communication systems. Besides learning about the actual topics, taking this course is an ideal preparation for doing a master thesis in our group. The course is only open for Master students. You should have prior knowledge at least in the basics of data communication and an interest in doing independent research. A background in cryptography is not mandatory, but encouraged. As this course is supposed to be highly interactive, seats are limited. Should we receive more registrations than seats available, we will select students based on their qualification for this course.

Registration is closed.

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