Blockchain, as data structure, is already present in US patent 4074066, “Message verification and transmission error detection by block chaining”, filed by IBM on 4/26/1976 and granted 2/14/1978. Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networking goes back to the ARPANET (1969) and gained popular recognition with Napster (1999). Proof-of-Work (PoW) is already discussed in the paper “Pricing via Processing or Combating Junk Mail”, presented at Crypto ’92 by Cynthia Dwork (IBM) and Moni Naor (Weizmann Institute). The seminal paper by Satoshi Nakamoto, “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”, circulated first in October 31, 2008, merged the three concepts to solve a particular problem, and created the modern blockchain. I consider it the most instructive paper to read, if one wants to understand the blockchain revolution. Since then, the world of cryptocurrencies and tokens has exploded and alternatives to PoW and other modifications have been proposed to deal with complexity issues. Furthermore, we are seeing proponents for the use of blockchains in areas never envisioned by the original cypherpunks, such as health care, supply chain and real estate. After covering the basics and fascinating history, I will present examples of successful blockchains and then discuss the challenges and opportunities of deploying blockchain-based applications.
Dr. Feig is an IEEE Life Fellow and has a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He was Research Staff Member and Manager of Signal Processing and Coding at IBM’s Watson Research Center; CTO and CMO at Kintera, an early cloud company; Senior Director of Services Architecture at Motorola; and Associate CIO for Vision and Strategy at Social Security Administration. He is inventor on 33 US patents and author on over 100 research publications. He has researched and written on mathematical algorithms, complexity theory, signal processing, coding for communication, MRI, radar, digital image and video technologies, web services, and cloud computing. He was a founding member and chair of the IEEE Technical Committee on Services Computing, founding editor of the IEEE Transactions on Services Computing, and general co-chair of numerous IEEE conferences related to Services Computing, Cloud and Web Services. He was adjunct professor at Columbia University, SUNY and CUNY. Currently, he is researching and consulting on blockchain technologies and is on the scientific advisory board of the Israeli Blockchain Association.