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We explore the future of decentralization and examine the infrastructure limiting what you can do with technology.

Our research philosophy

Updates

2020.7.27 / Posts

Alfonso de la Rocha joins Protocol Labs Research

Alfonso is joining the Resilient Networks Lab (ResNetLab) as a Research Engineer. He comes to PL from Telefónica R&D, where he worked on blockchain-based technologies such as TrustOS. We asked Alfonso about his journey to PL, the projects he will be working on in the ResNetLab, and his thoughts about future technological developments:

2020.7.23 / Posts

How content addressing can solve streaming challenges as networks are overloaded

Given the mass migration to remote work we’ve seen in recent months, you’d think the internet would be collapsing under the added strain. Yet precisely the opposite has happened. As experts have observed, the internet isn’t buckling under added traffic; it’s thriving.

2020.7.6 / Publications

GossipSub: Attack-resilient message propagation in the Filecoin and ETH2.0 networks

Permissionless blockchain environments necessitate the use of a fast and attack-resilient message propagation protocol for Block and Transaction messages to keep nodes synchronised and avoid forks. We present GossipSub, a gossip-based pubsub protocol, which, in contrast to past pubsub protocols, incorporates resilience against a wide spectrum of attacks.

2020.7.1 / Talks

Vector commitment techniques and applications to verifiable decentralized storage

Vector commitments with subvector openings (SVC) allow one to open a committed vector at a set of positions with an opening of size independent of both the vector's length and the number of opened positions. We continue the study of SVC with two goals in mind: improving their efficiency and making them more suitable to decentralized settings. We address both problems by proposing a new notion for VC that we call incremental aggregation and that allows one to merge openings in a succinct way an unbounded number of times. This property leads to faster generation of openings via preprocessing and a method to generate openings in a distributed way. We then proceed to realize SVC with incremental aggregation. We provide two constructions in groups of unknown order. The first one, similarly to that of Boneh et al. (which supports only one-hop aggregation), has constant-size public parameters, commitments and openings. As an additional feature for this construction we propose efficient arguments of knowledge of subvector openings which immediately yields a keyless proof of storage with compact proofs. For our second construction, we propose an incremental aggregation method for the SVC of Lai-Malavolta; this has linear-size parameters but faster openings. Finally, we address a problem closely related to that of SVC: storing a file efficiently in completely decentralized networks. We introduce and construct verifiable decentralized storage (VDS), a cryptographic primitive that allows to check the integrity of a file stored by a network of nodes in a distributed and decentralized way. Our VDS constructions rely on our new vector commitment techniques.

Research areas

Our mission urges us to consider problems across multiple subject areas, both applied and theoretical. We pursue these problems in the open and share our results in recorded talks and published papers.

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Knowledge Engineering

We aim to use learnings from previous efforts, growth in available data, and ambitions of qualitatively novel capabilities to facilitate the discovery, linking, and processing of knowledge. This work primarily consists of support for The Underlay, a project intending to build a global, distributed graph of public knowledge.

Type Theory

A long-term goal for the IPFS ecosystem is to merge distributed apps and local apps into a single paradigm: fundamentally rethinking the UNIX programming model for a content-addressable platform. As a component of this, we aspire to make the best use of state-of-the-art advances in programming language design and implementation, such as substructural types, modal types, and algebraic effects.

Applied Category Theory

Category theory (CT) originated as a subdiscipline of pure mathematics, with a historical strength in unifying disparate mathematical areas to transport proofs and constructions between them. CT can also be viewed as an upgraded foundation for all of math, taking the place traditionally occupied by first-order logic and set theory, and is commonly used in theoretical computer science (especially type theory), and as a foundation for computational theorem-proving.

Distributed Systems

Distributed systems are, broadly speaking, networked systems whose components are located in different nodes that communicate and coordinate to achieve the system’s purpose. Distributed systems are at the very core of what we do and our interests extend across the entire field.

Cryptography

Modern cryptography plays an integral role in every aspect of online and electronic security, including providing evidence you’re speaking to the intended party and hindering spying on the subsequent communication. Cutting-edge cryptography tools will allow the creation of incredibly strong evidence that general information processing has been performed in a privacy-preserving and trustless way.

Distributed Power Systems

Our electricity system is undergoing a monumental transition from a centralized design based on fossil fuels to a distributed architecture based on renewable energy. Successfully navigating this requires reconceiving the grid as a distributed system, able to coordinate diverse resources and influence the deployment of capital by setting up appropriate incentive structures.

Networking

Computer networks enable information to move across the globe. They are foundational to the world we live in and to the vast majority of our work. Our interests include transport and routing protocols, network security, p2p systems, publish-subscribe protocols, and network monitoring and simulation.

Our People

We're a fully remote team distributed across the globe. We work with talented and intellectually curious people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives who share a passion for improving technology for humanity.

Meet the team