Emin Gun Sirer
Emin Gün Sirer, the co-founder and CEO of Ava Labs, which developed Avalanche blockchain, is a prominent figure in the field of computer science. The Avalanche network comprises three chains: X-chain, C-chain, and P-chain. The X-chain facilitates the trading of various smart assets, including AVAX. The C-chain handles the execution of EVM-compatible contracts, while the P-chain enables the creation of new subnets.
Blockchains that make up the avalanche. (source: Avalanche dev docs)
A Pioneer in Computer Science
Sirer's journey in computer science began during his high school years at Robert College and continued with a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Princeton University. He further pursued graduate studies at the University of Washington, where he earned a Ph.D. in Computer Science in 2002. Prior to his role as a professor at Cornell University, Sirer worked at esteemed institutions such as AT&T Bell Labs, DEC SRC (System Research Center) at DEC in Palo Alto, California, and NEC, a Tokyo-based multinational IT and electronics company. At NEC, he focused on developing IT and network solutions, including cloud computing, AI, IoT platforms, communication equipment, and software.
He has made significant contributions to peer-to-peer systems, operating systems, and computer networks. During his time at the University of Washington, he collaborated on the development of the SPIN operating system, an open-source project implemented in the Modula-3 programming language. SPIN aimed to achieve flexibility, safety, and performance.
A Leader in Cryptocurrency and Distributed Systems
Sirer began his tenure at Cornell University as an assistant professor in 2001 and worked as an associate professor from 2007 until 2021. In 2003 as an assistant professor at Cornell University, he introduced Karma, the first distributed peer-to-peer currency based on a proof-of-work protocol. This innovation predates Bitcoin by six years and aimed to address the issue of free-loaders, individuals who consume resources without contributing value.
Sirer's research on selfish mining, conducted with Ittay Eyal, highlighted vulnerabilities in Bitcoin mining. They demonstrated that an attack on Bitcoin could be carried out with less than the 50% hashpower threshold described in the Bitcoin whitepaper. This research led to the development of Bitcoin-NG, a scalability solution, and Bitcoin Covenants, a security solution, in collaboration with his co-authors.
He founded bloXroute labs in 2017. This platform aimed to develop technology that applies network neutrality principles to blockchain, enabling efficient financial data transmission. In addition, he served as a co-director of the Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Smart Contracts (IC3) at Cornell University. During his tenure at Cornell, he founded Ava Labs and nurtured the Avalanche network project, collaborating with Ph.D. students to create alternative blockchain technologies for the financial sector.
Bridging Traditional Finance with Avalanche
Avalanche, a Layer 1 platform compatible with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), prioritizes operating a high-speed, low-cost, and environment-friendly network. Sirer, alongside Ph.D. students Maofan Yin and Kevin Sekniqi, played a pivotal role in developing Avalanche's consensus mechanism and the native token AVAX.
Avalanche has been designed to enable easy construction of enterprise subnets, and it has leveraged this capability to establish partnerships with numerous companies, including SK Planet, Korean conglomerate affiliates. In the past year, it has collaborated with KKR, the world's top private equity fund, to tokenize KKR's private equity fund, the "Healthcare Strategic Growth Fund." This expansion of its ecosystem demonstrates Avalanche's commitment to growth and innovation.
Regarding the adoption of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) by the Bank of England, Sirer believes that Avalanche can play a crucial role.
— Emin Gün Sirer As Digital Financier? United Kingdom’s Open Central Bank Digital Currency Project, (paraphrased and excerpt)
Sirer also highlighted that Bitcoin and Libra(a previous blockchain project developed by Meta) are ill-suited for CBDC applications. Bitcoin's substantial energy consumption and scalability limitations render it unsuitable for widespread use. Libra, operated by a few private companies rather than national entities, is also deemed unsuitable for CBDC issuance.