Inside blockchain and cryptoeconomics analysis at Fb
Blockchains are an excellent example of how fundamental computer science and economic research can change the development of entire industries. As a result of decades of work by many researchers, we are seeing a change in the technology that underlies payment systems.
At Facebook, we are contributing to this effort with a world-class research team based in Novi, a regulated finance company for the Libra payment system. We are a group of scientists, economists, and software engineers working in interdisciplinary fields including cryptography, programming languages, distributed systems, program review, game theory, security, data protection, financial inclusion, economic development, macroeconomics, and market design. You can find more information about us on the Blockchain and Cryptoeconomics page.
As an impact-based research team, we are focused on supporting the development of the Novi wallet and contributing to a wide variety of blockchain and research communities, including the Libra project, which is based on an open source blockchain. We address the limitations of blockchain systems by incubating open source technology and conducting research that will make these systems more scalable, secure, and accessible.
We’re excited to share more on the technological advances and economic research we’re doing to advance Novi’s goal of moving money more freely for more people.
New technical publications
We share many of the same ambitions outlined in the CryptoCurrencies and Contracts Seven Big Challenges initiative, which identifies the main blockers for blockchain adoption. Based on the work we’ve published so far, we’ve made some early strides in solving problems related to scaling and performance, correctness, and security – but we’re only just getting started. Here is a short list of recent publications that highlight our work in several key dimensions:
Scaling and performance
- Replication of the state machine in the Libra blockchain: A state-of-the-art Byzantine fault tolerance algorithm for Libra (LibraBFT) used to conclude an agreement to order and complete transactions between a configurable set of validators.
- Cogsworth: A new synchronization algorithm for the Byzantine view with optimistic linear communication complexity and constant latency. In the face of harmless failures, Cogsworth expected linear communication and constant latency.
- FastPay: A set of dispersed agencies that allow companies to use pre-funded quorums to process transactions at ~ 80,000 tps.
Correctness through design and construction
- Moving: A language with programmable resources: An executable bytecode language used to implement custom transactions and smart contracts. With move, a resource can never be copied or implicitly discarded; it can only be moved between program storage locations.
- The Move Prover: A formal verification system that enables the automatic verification of the correctness of function for Move modules.
- Gemini: White Glove Approach to BFT Testing: A novel approach to mimicking common Byzantine behavior. The main idea of Twins is that we can emulate Byzantine behavior by running two instances of a node with the same identity. Each of the two instances (or twins) is executing unchanged, correct code.
Security and Compliance
- Proof of liabilities: A novel algorithm for evidence of liabilities with data protection, with which companies can conduct a distributed audit of their liabilities. It is the first system that protects users from dishonest entities without losing individual identifiable data.
- Tame the many EdDSAs: A novel technique for checking the compatibility of cryptographic libraries that implement the EdDSA signature scheme. It shows discrepancies between libraries and standards and justifies the best way to safely implement the schema, with an emphasis on practical aspects.
In addition to our open source technical advances, the economists on the Novi Cryptoeconomics team conduct research on financial inclusion, applied microeconomics, macroeconomics, and market design. We work closely with computer scientists and translate economic theory into practical solutions for blockchain-based problems. Here is more information on where the team is focused in each of our core research areas:
- Financial Inclusion: Designing, testing, and scaling low-cost financial tools that could improve the life of the population without and without banks. Use the power of smart contracts and programmable payments to cut costs, increase efficiency and gain access to financial services.
- Applied Microeconomics: Using Experiments to Learn How People and Businesses Behave in a Global Payment System.
- Macroeconomics: Investigation of stable coin systems and reserves that are solvent-based, liquid and support financial stability. Creating a competitive environment that enables financial opportunities and innovation.
- Market design: developing objective and transparent mechanisms that help establish and maintain proper governance in stable coin systems to ensure that operations are aligned with the long-term needs of their users.
If any of these works inspire you, we’d love to hear from you. As soon as there are new opportunities for roles in the team, including visiting researchers, we will post them on our careers page. Check back for updates regularly.
We also regularly offer doctoral scholarships in the field of blockchain and crypto-economics. Please visit the Facebook Fellowship Program page for more information. Applications open each fall and the winners will be announced the following January.
We also actively participate in industrial and academic conferences, whether virtual or in person. Feel free to say hello if you discover members of our group.