CS Associate Professor Emin Gün Sirer is moving beyond theorizing cryptocurrency; he has launched a new venture to create it. The co-director of the Initiative for CryptoCurrencies and Contracts (IC3) at Cornell University, Sirer, said his new cryptocurrency network—Ava—“will offer high throughput, fast confirmation times of transactions, and support applications ranging from supply-chain tracking to keeping tabs on securities and gold.” As reported by Bloomberg News, Ava’s current private testnet already runs “as many transactions per second as Visa” in a network consisting of 1000 nodes.
As the new venture, Ava Labs, Inc., emerges from “stealth,” “backed by a new consensus algorithm,” it is revealing some true innovations in the current environment of proliferating cryptocurrencies. For example, Sirer says that “[y]ou can create a digital asset on top of Ava, a coin x. And then you can say, I want my coin to support Bitcoin transactions as well as Zcash—you can mix and match features from different languages.”
The network is gaining significant funding, in part because of innovations with “consensus protocols that serve the same purpose of proof-of-work—securing transactions—but are more energy-efficient and have the potential to provide a basis for democratic development and the inclusion of more users in the consensus process.”
In addition to advancing beyond consensus protocols in place for a half-century, Sirer emphasizes that unlike all cryptocurrencies available at present—where all nodes employ the same “scripting language”—Ava offers a “heterogenous network,” a versatility whose down-stream consequences are yet to be revealed. However, when Ava is put beside other cryptocurrencies, one thing is clear right now, according to Sirer, “[t]his is a different type of universe.”