Q&A: The inside story of ‘Ledger,’ the academic journal for blockchain and cryptocurrency research


PITTSBURGH — Christopher Wilmer is a chemical engineer at the University of Pittsburgh, an assistant professor in the Swanson School of Engineering’s Chemical & Petroleum Engineering Department who uses computer simulations to investigate hypothetical materials.

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Like many people in the technology world , he’s also interested in blockchain, best known as the fundamental underpinning of the Bitcoin cryptocurrency.

But Wilmer has taken his interest to a different level than most, as the co-founding editor of Ledger, the first peer-reviewed academic journal for blockchain and cryptocurrency technology research. He has also co-authored a book called Bitcoin for the Befuddled.

“There’s not anything really specific to chemical engineering that interests me in blockchain technology,” Wilmer explained, “but I was someone who got interested in 2011, and I realized that there wasn’t really a good venue for rigorous research in the field.”

We met Wilmer at a recent reception with Pitt researchers and scientists in the school’s Cathedral of Learning, and had to learn more. Continue reading for an edited transcript of our conversation about blockchain, Bitcoin and how the academic journal works.

How does your journal compare to other journals in other scientific and academic fields?

Wilmer: The journal, by design, is a lot like other journals in its format. We have a traditional, peer-review process. We do actually use the blockchain a little bit. Something you can leverage the Blockchain for is time-stamping articles. We time-stamp articles with the Bitcoin blockchain. Beyond that, we’re intentionally like other peer-reviewed academic journals in new and emerging areas. But the focus is specifically blockchain technology research.

Is there one paper so far that stands out to you as something that moved the understanding of the state of the art to the next level?

Wilmer: There’s one paper on a topic called subchains. One of the frequently discussed issues with using blockchain as a payment mechanism, like with Bitcoin, is how do you accept payments instantaneously? Because, at least with Bitcoin, the blocks are added every 10 minutes. It’s different with Ethereum. And so the subchains paper, which is authored by Peter Rizun, talks about a method for having a statistically increased confidence in whether a transaction will be accepted in the Blockchain without waiting for the 10 minutes but instead waiting for these sub-blocks to be added onto subchains. That was a …read more

Source:: GeekWire

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