Adem Efe Gencer (Ph.D. ’17), who wrote his dissertation “On Scalability of Blockchain Technologies” under the direction of Emin Gün Sirer and Robbert van Renesse, has learned that his work is the most downloaded Cornell dissertation in the past eight years. Indeed, the next most retrieved dissertation has half the downloads.
Responding to news of Gencer’s dissertation being so widely accessed, Professor Sirer contextualized Gencer's work and articulated some of its impact:
Dr. Gencer's thesis represents a tour de force in the burgeoning area of blockchains and cryptocurrencies. It unveiled a brand new consensus protocol, improving upon Satoshi Nakamoto's highly successful protocol that powers Bitcoin.
It also introduced the design of a brand new emulation platform for the evaluation of wide-area consensus protocols, enabling researchers to quantitatively compare protocols side by side.
And finally, it reported results from a massive, multi-year longitudinal network measurement study that enabled Dr. Gencer to parameterize his emulation platform and carefully evaluate the benefits of his new protocol.
And the timing of his dissertation research?
And the timing could not have been better. The thesis arrived during the scalability debate in Bitcoin, where the entire cryptocurrency community was transfixed on how to make blockchains scale.
Dr. Gencer's work paved the way towards quantitative, science-driven public discourse when discussing cryptocurrencies.
His consensus protocol has been adopted into at least four different cryptocurrencies worth billions; his techniques represent the state of the art even today, and many follow-on works have built on the clear technical foundation he has laid out.
Cornell's dominance in this nascent field is well-established. Coupled with the outreach efforts organized through the Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Contracts (IC3), through which Dr. Gencer was funded and did his work, we have had an oversized impact on the world from our vantage point in Ithaca.