Institutions of research and education have maintained a prestige in our world for millennia, providing the tools and space necessary to foster innovation.

The blockchain space has been grasping for a place in the formal education system as companies demand more labor, and students are drawn by the lucrative field of work. Funding for blockchain research and resources are needed to further the growth of the field and the understanding of this early-stage technology among developers and companies alike.

Qtum, an open sourced public blockchain platform, has contributed a $400,000 grant to the research space for blockchain. Academics at Columbia University are tasked with creating a brand new, Ethereum-style smart contract programming language. Two PhD and postdoctoral students of the computer sciences department are teaming up with assistant professor, Ronghui Gu to work on the research and design project.

The new language will be called DeepSEA, and is aimed at bridging the gap between two conflicting aspects of programming language: abstract formal logic and management of low-level effects and hardware resources.

The grant award abstract states:

“(T)oday’s mainstream operating systems and hypervisors are still written in C-like low-level languages. There seems to be an inherent conflict between high-level formal reasoning and low-level systems programming: the former relies on a rich theory at a high abstraction level while the latter must manipulate and manage low-level effects and hardware resources.”

The language is to be both designed and implemented to develop a “toolchain” for use in building “certified OS kernels and Ethereum-style smart contracts.” OS kernels are an integral part of operating systems that allows management of hardware functions. Innovating on these infrastructure components would allow smart contracts more dependability and adaptability.

Qtum’s interest in the project is likely based on its hybrid blockchain platform focus on smart contract and decentralized application creation. Its technological basis is a fork of Bitcoin core protocol combined with an Account Abstraction Layer that allows coexisting virtual machines. Its proof of stake system is designed to allow blockchain modification through the decentralized governance protocol’s (DGP) use of smart contracts. Its interest in development resources and the potential application for the project in its own system is beneficial for blockchain study in general.

Blockchain programs have been growing in demand over the past few years as crypto grows in popularity. With relatively few universities offering education courses or research opportunities, any support makes a large impact. In the fall, Columbia University is hosting two blockchain accelerator programs to give startups the space to innovate. Paired with IBM, Columbia has also launched a Columbia-IBM Center for Blockchain and Data Transparency.