This professional development session will help educators to learn about emerging areas of research in computer science and information security and it will help to shape educational resources that can help educators to integrate these topics into their curriculum. Dr. Bryan Parno and Dr. Jan Hoffmann, two faculty members in the Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science, will share information about their research and they would like to learn from teachers about the connections between this work and the curriculum in high school science classrooms.

Smart contracts, popularized by cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, are programs that run atop financial infrastructure and command the flow of money according to user-defined algorithms. Such contracts can implement new, decentralized financial instruments or even virtual corporations defined only by the bundle of smart contracts programmatically governing their behavior. For example, an eBay-like smart contract could directly connect buyers with sellers, support a variety of auction mechanisms, and manage necessary payments (including escrow), without the transaction charges currently imposed by eBay, PayPal, and the credit card companies. In general, moving business processes into smart contracts promises to lower costs, reduce friction, and unleash innovation by eliminating intermediaries and automating settlements.

However, programming smart contracts requires a deep understanding of cryptographic techniques, a non-standard execution cost model, and economic mechanism design. Existing smart-contract programming languages provide little support for such reasoning; indeed, contract vulnerabilities have already led to multi-million-dollar thefts.

In this workshop, participants will receive an introduction to the ideas behind blockchains, cryptocurrencies, and smart contracts. Participants will discuss some of the security challenges unique to these new technologies, as well as some of the on-going research into how to prevent or mitigate these new vulnerabilities.

Driving directions and details for the exact location at Carnegie Mellon will be sent to registered teachers.