The strength of Princeton's faculty in computation, computer science, internet policy, and financial engineering has made Princeton a leader in developing the next generation of technology in cryptocurrency, blockchain and decentralized finance.
Below are highlights of recent efforts. For more information, we encourage you to search Research With Princeton, a comprehensive and up-to-date database of research output and projects, faculty profiles, academic units and relevant facilities.
Engineering School founds DeCenter, the Center for the Decentralization of Power Through Blockchain Technology
In March 2022, the University created the Center for the Decentralization of Power Through Blockchain Technology to convene scholars across disciplines to better understand the potential benefits and pitfalls of these emerging technologies and to drive wise innovation in the field.
Key support for the initiative came from a major gift to Princeton’s Venture Forward campaign from four alumni who are leaders in technology, investing and blockchain. The donors are: Peter L. Briger, Jr., a 1986 graduate and principal and co-chief executive officer of Fortress Investment Group; Joseph M. Lubin, a 1987 graduate and a co-founder of the blockchain and cryptocurrency platform Ethereum and CEO and founder of ConsenSys, a blockchain company; Daniel W. Morehead, a 1987 graduate and founder and chief executive officer of Pantera Capital; and Michael E. Novogratz, a 1987 graduate and chief executive officer of Galaxy Investment Partners.
The center is co-directed by Jaswinder Pal Singh, professor of computer science, and Andrea Goldsmith, dean of engineering and the Arthur LeGrand Doty Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
This new initiative on decentralization accelerates three areas of work at Princeton: the underlying engineering behind blockchain and related technologies; innovative uses of the technologies not only in finance and economics but also in areas such as voting and news; and the implications that such technologies could have for society. Princeton researchers also will partner with external entities, including technology companies, to move innovations into the market, while regularly convening academics and thought-leaders about the impacts of such technologies.
Princeton Ethereum-related startup, Offchain Labs, takes big steps
Offchain Labs is a venture-backed and Princeton-founded company that is developing Arbitrum, an "Optimistic Rollup" scaling solution for Ethereum. According to the company, Arbitrum instantly scales apps, reducing costs and increasing capacity, without sacrificing Ethereum's security. Offchain Labs was founded by Ed Felten, the Robert E. Kahn Professor of Computer Science and Public Affairs, Emeritus, and former director of Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy (CITP), along with two former Princeton graduate students. In August 2021, the company announced it had raised $120M in Series B funding and started the rollout of its Arbitrum One product. As keynote speaker for the 2021 Celebrate Princeton Innovation showcase, Felten discussed the company and its development of a suite of Ethereum scaling solutions grounded in research that he originally conducted with his team at Princeton. He also talked about his experience as an academic entrepreneur during the Engage 2021 conference on Princeton Innovation.
Princeton's Center for Information and Technology Policy led way on crypto teaching and research
Arvind Narayanan, associate professor of computer science, and Ed Felten, then CITP director, worked on the popular textbook and online course Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies.
CITP also joined Ripple’s University Research Collaboration in 2018. This program supports academic research, technical development and innovation in blockchain, cryptocurrency and digital payments. CITP Director Felten noted at the time "a surge of interest among Princeton students to advance their understanding of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology." He saw the partnership with Ripple as a way to "enable CITP’s students and researchers to explore the nuances of real-world applications of these technologies.”
For more information on specific research topics, we encourage you to search Research With Princeton, a comprehensive and up-to-date database of research publications and projects, faculty profiles, research units and scientific facilities available for sharing with external partners.