BitAsset PhD Research project - University of Colorado
Name/bfid 201907-uccs-research-project
Category Research
Freelancer Dr. Philip N. Brown, Assistant Professor of Computer Science - University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
Total $160,000
Duration 2019/07/01 - 2019/10/31 (4 months)
Worker ID (click the id to vote with Beet or go to reference UI)
Accounting & Reporting

University Research Project for BitAssets

This worker proposal, if approved and funded, will support a gift to the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) to fund a 2-year bitasset-specific research project by a PhD student under the direction of Dr. Philip Brown. Please scroll down for more details.

Yearly Budget

By far the most critical budget items are the stipend and tuition payments for the PhD student, who will be committing the bulk of the time to the project. In addition to the student’s budget items, the project’s impact is significantly enhanced by including some time for Dr. Brown, to ensure that he can adequately direct the research. Time for faculty can be included as salary in the summer months or as a “course buy-out” during the academic year which reduces his teaching load to allow more time for research. The following budget includes a summer month as well as a teaching reduction. Finally, an annual $10,000 travel budget is included; both Dr. Brown and the PhD student will travel to universities, conferences, and workshops to promote the work, disseminate research findings and develop future collaborative relationships with other researchers. UCCS applies indirect costs of 10% to each budget line item below to cover facilities maintenance, support staff salaries and related grant management expenses; each of the following budget items includes these 10% indirect costs.

A sample annual budget is as follows:

  • PhD Student annual stipend: $26,736
  • PhD student annual tuition (6 credits per semester): $10,211.11
  • Dr. Brown month of summer salary: $14,354.44
  • Dr. Brown 1-course teaching load reduction: $12,919.00
  • Travel budget: $11,111.11
  • Total annual budget: $75,331.66

If the project is funded at higher levels, the additional money will be used to extend the student’s funding for up to a third year. It is important to stress that this is likely to significantly increase the ultimate impact of the project, as the productivity of PhD students tends to increase over time.

Accountability and Transparency

Once the funds from this worker proposal are disbursed to UCCS, the University of Colorado will be the custodian of the funds as required for all funded university research projects. Dr. Brown will have signature authority over the funds, but all expenditures will be vetted through the usual accounting procedures of the University of Colorado, providing a strong layer of protection against embezzlement and other malfeasance by Dr. Brown.

Budget Restrictions

Worker funds are released relatively slowly, so an extremely aggressive timeline may not be possible. However, the PhD student cannot be attached to the project unless a minimum of two years’ funding is allocated to him up front.

To reduce costs, this worker proposal may pay out BTS to the BBF (the escrow) directly to reduce trading fees and spreads that would otherwise increase total costs to cover the commitment. Payments to the University of Colorado will remain transparent to the Community and the voters.

Executive summary

Dr. Philip Brown wrote an executive summary that contains the full details of the PhD student to work on.

Read full executive summary

Key Research Thrusts:

  • Recommend concrete improvements to the BitShares MPA system.
  • Develop a “science of collateralized tokens,” investigating the key design tradeoffs in the space.
  • Can the balance between short-term and long-term stability be tuned?
  • Is there a fundamental tradeoff in collateralized tokens between manipulability and short-term stability?
  • How can we assess risk in collateralized token systems, taking into account the incentives seen by all parties?

Additional project activities:

  • Travel to universities and academic/blockchain conferences to present our research.
  • Participation and outreach in blockchain community events in the greater Colorado Springs area.
  • Sharing ongoing research findings with the BitShares Core Team and contributing insights to relevant design discussions.

Principal Investigator Bio

Dr. Philip N. Brown, an Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, will direct the research project. Dr. Brown brings uniquely multidisciplinary expertise to the project, as his research combines concepts from automation and controls, game theory and incentive design, and integrated engineered and engineered systems. Dr. Brown has been a BitShares community member since early 2014, and participated in discussions (under the pseudonym “biophil”) regarding the design of the first BitAsset pegging mechanisms. Since then, he has launched an interdisciplinary research program in the department of Computer Science at the University of Colorado:


The proposed research gift funds an exciting and ambitious undertaking to result in both technical results relevant to the functioning of the BitShares Blockchain as well as basic science which will advance knowledge and lead to visibility and lasting impact in the broader academic community.

It is our hope that in its success, this project will accomplish the following three unique things:

  • Bring new tools and theory to bear on the practical challenges faced by the BitShares Blockchain,
  • Spread awareness of the BitShares ecosystem to a previously unreached audience, and
  • Showcase the BitShares community’s ability and commitment to fund higher learning projects which confer benefits beyond the insular setting of the BitShares Blockchain itself.
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