South Korea’s Fantom to Fund Smart Contract Toolchain Scholarships in Australia

A South Korean-based smart contract platform has partnered with the University of Sydney to finance scholarships and research in the development of a toolchain for smart contracts.

DAG-based smart contract platform Fantom from South Korea is funding a scholarship and research group in the University of Sydney in Australia to create a the first-of-its-kind, safe, secure and low-energy programming toolchain for smart contracts.

“With a market capitalisation of over $200 billion, the need for increased security in cryptocurrencies and distributed ledgers is paramount,” Michael Kong, chief innovation officer at Fantom said in a statement sent to Cryptovest. He added, “From multi-million dollar hacks to wallet freezes, we have seen that poorly-written smart contracts have disastrous consequences for the entire industry. This partnership will enable safer smart contract programming while also providing the hands-on experience necessary to drive blockchain innovation and development.”

In addition to the financing facility, Fantom has also committed to donate to the university’s Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies. Bernhard Scholz, associate professor of Computer Science at the University of Sydney will spearhead the initiative. The funding will finance a selected research group to build a new programming toolchain for the community and Fantom by utilizing an open source software and research artifacts.

Kong said the goal of the partnership is to develop automated bug-checking software for the creation of a safer smart contract.

The collaboration between the university and Fantom has identified four focus areas, including the development of a programming methodology for smart contracts, a programming language for smart contracts, a verifying compiler and virtual machines.

Developing the methodology requires teaching more programmers through tutorials. This area is seen as one of the most important in the area of focus as the programming environment for blockchain progresses. According to Fantom, the existing smart contract programming language, Solidity, is insufficient for present needs because it does not have a strong type system. The research group must identify ways to expand the use of Solidity and make it safer.

To achieve that goal, a verifying compiler is needed to translate Solidity (or an extension of it) to a virtual machine that is energy efficient and supports a bytecode format. The virtual machine is expected to become verifiable in the future.

Fantom CEO Dr. Byung Ik Ahn, commented, “As we look to accelerate the mainstream adoption of blockchain technology, several key technical challenges need to be addressed, including issues with security, scalability, and high-energy consumption. To kickstart this process, the industry needs to start placing a heavier emphasis on blockchain-focused research and academia, which it desperately lacks.”

In related news, the French University of Armenia (UFAR) had teamed up with blockchain venture studio Blocktech to launch the first academic Blockchain Laboratory in the country.

The laboratory will introduce interdisciplinary research into the economic implications of distributed ledger technology (DLT) in cooperation with UFAR’s departments of Finance and Law.

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