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 a few 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. 

Initiative on blockchain and decentralization of power

In 2022, Princeton launched an initiative on blockchain and its potential to disrupt and redistribute power in society. Supported by four alumni in a combined major gift to Princeton’s Venture Forward campaign, the initiative will convene scholars across disciplines to better understand the potential benefits and pitfalls of the technology. The initiative will be based in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, while engaging innovators and scholars across social sciences, public policy, economics and the humanities. The initiative will accelerate fundamental research not only in the underlying technologies of decentralization but also the societal impacts of those technologies.

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 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. 

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