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I've submitted a draft of a research paper to the Decentralized 2019 conference in Athens, Greece (the same one that is sponsored by clockwork's worker proposal). If the paper is accepted by the conference's peer review committee, it will be published as the first BitShares-sponsored academic research, and I will travel to Greece to present the research at the conference. I'm providing a link to a draft of the research paper, but before I do, let me clarify a few things:
  • The paper considers an extremely oversimplified model of the BitShares system. The reason for this is threefold: 1) I wrote the paper in only a few weeks, so time constraints limited the amount of detail I could include. 2) At the start of a project, you really don't want to draw the wrong conclusions just because you rushed an overly-complex model to press. 3) A simple model often illuminates interesting points and helps guide the way forward.
  • One issue that the paper illuminates is that the BitShares incentive mechanism is probably very sensitive to our choices of MCR and MSSR, in the sense that sometimes if you change one of these parameters a little, it could have a huge effect on the behavior of BitAsset shorters.
  • The specific numbers used in the paper (MSSR= 1.005, 1.01, 1.02 and MCR= 1.4, 1.5, 1.6) are to be taken with a grain of salt. I used them to illustrate the general shape of the problem, not to draw any specific conclusions about those particular parameter choices.
Having given those caveats, I welcome your comments on the paper draft itself, available here.

Finally, the worker proposal which will fund ongoing research in this area needs a few more votes! Please vote for worker 1.14.204 or ask your proxy to vote for it.

Greetings community! Two months ago, I (Dr. Philip N. Brown, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs) made the announcement here that I was embarking on a unique research project to study bitAssets. You can read my original introduction post and its discussion here:

Today, I give you a worker proposal to raise funds for the project and ensure its success; many thanks to @xeroc and the BitShares Blockchain Foundation for their invaluable assistance in putting forward this proposal. You can find the complete proposal below and at; but here is the TL;DR version:

  • This worker fully funds a PhD student at the University of Colorado for 2 years; under my supervision, this student will study the fundamental design tradeoffs surrounding price-stabilized crypto-tokens with a particular focus on bitAssets in BitShares.
  • The student and I will present reports and recommendations to the BitShares community as well as author publications which we will submit to high-profile academic conferences and journals for peer-review.
    • Whenever we give a talk for this project at a conference, we'll acknowledge the BitShares Blockchain as the research's funding source.
    • Whenever we publish a paper resulting from the funds in this worker, we'll include the text "This work was supported by BitShares worker proposal 1.14.204."
  • The BitShares Blockchain Foundation will act as escrow, and the University of Colorado will be the custodian of the funds for the duration of the project (read: I can't just cut and run with the cash).

Please pepper me with your questions, and I will make myself available to chat via Skype (philskypetalk) or any other chat service if that would be helpful. I'll also update this post with something like a FAQ as I start to see which questions are the most frequent. What follows is the complete proposal as published at

Name/bfid: 201907-uccs-research-project
Category: Research
Team: Dr. Philip N. Brown, Assistant Professor of Computer Science
Total: $160,000
Duration: 4 months
Worker ID: 1.14.204
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.

General Discussion / Developing a bitAsset research program
« on: April 26, 2019, 10:16:32 pm »
Greetings, BitShares community!

My name is Philip Brown, and I'm a professor of Computer Science at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs; here is my academic website: It's been a long time since I was active around here; so let me give you a quick re-introduction.

I first started exploring the blockchain/cryptocurrency space in late 2013, and stumbled onto because I was intrigued by one of the early Larimer essays about Contract-for-Difference-based stabilized assets. Back then, I was a PhD student studying game theory, incentive design, and feedback control systems, and I saw immediate connections between the concepts I was learning in my program and the things being created in the BitShares world. I was a PTS/AGS holder and early tester of the bitAsset systems, and have been watching and at times participating ever since. At the time, I would have loved to sink my teeth into some deep analysis of the incentive mechanisms in the system. I managed to find time to help write an early FAQ for Bitshares, and I operated a custom trading bot on BTER and the BitShares Dex for a short time, but the demands of my PhD program commanded my attention and I had little choice but to dabble. Fortunately, since then, I graduated with my PhD and am now a professor myself – which means that I get to choose exactly what I want to research.

Today, I'm very happy to announce that I am working towards launching a bitAsset-focused research project! Over the past several months, I've been in conversation with the BitShares Core Team regarding a partnership between my research lab and the BitShares DAC. We're discussing a collaborative project in which I'll direct a PhD student in an in-depth study of the key design tradeoffs in price-stable cryptocurrency systems, beginning with a comprehensive audit and analysis of the BitShares MPA system. I'm very excited to bring my expertise in game theory and incentive mechanisms to bear on these fundamental challenges, and I look forward to a productive collaboration as this unfolds.

More details will follow as the partnership progresses, but I wanted to post this here now by way of announcement and re-introduction. I'm happy to be back!

General Discussion / Investigating the reasons for BitUSD GS
« on: December 06, 2018, 03:12:04 pm »
Greetings, Bitshares community!

A very few of you may remember me from the early days of Bitshares; back then, I was a lowly graduate student interested in game theory and cryptocurrencies.

Now, I've worked my way up to professor of Computer Science at the University of Colorado: I've been doing a bit of research on stablecoins recently, and I want to gather some perspectives on what went wrong with BitUSD. I think there are some very interesting underlying problems with stablecoins in general (see NuBits for some early examples), and collaboratively-managed stablecoins in particular (see BitUSD), and I'd like to understand these problems very clearly.

So I'd love to get some community input on the reasons that BitUSD's peg mechanism broke and it went into GS. Here are some starter questions, but of course give me your own perspectives even if they don't fit my questions at all:

1. Was BitUSD mismanaged? If so, by whom and why?
2. Was it the fault of BSIP42?
3. How will BitCNY be saved from the same fate?
4. Was the GS inevitable?

And just to be clear about my intentions here, depending on my findings, I plan to write a (possibly series of) academic research papers on the topic of how to properly incentivize stablecoins. I think the incentive issues are very deep and likely very difficult to surmount. Here's an older summary of my concerns:

I'm trying to compile a good record of my Bitshares activity, and the web wallet doesn't give you much history. Does anybody have a nice CSV history service or anything? Or a better web interface that lets you download history?

OpenLedger / Why are STEEM/SBD withdrawals disabled?
« on: July 03, 2017, 10:37:17 pm »
It's all in the title. It would be a nice customer-relations move to have a banner of some sort on markets whose deposits are disabled. Sure, buyer beware and all that, and I'm not threatening to libel you or anything - but it's extremely frustrating to find what looks like a good price only to discover too late that it's because the IOU in question isn't actually redeemable at the moment.

General Discussion / BitCNY Price discrepancy
« on: June 21, 2017, 11:15:33 pm »
I have been watching the BitCNY price slide downwards relative to bitUSD for the past several weeks. Right now, by dividing bitUSD and bitCNY price feeds, the implied bitCNY/bitUSD price is about 0.133. On the other hand, Google gives the exchange rate between CNY and USD at 0.146.

Why the discrepancy between exchange rates?

Technical Support / Force settlement offset
« on: June 19, 2017, 11:42:53 pm »
The big smartcoins all seem to have a parameter called "force settlement offset" set to 1%. What is this? Does it mean that you get only 99% of the face-value BTS when you request a settlement?

If so, what is the purpose of this?

Technical Support / Public API for bitshares?
« on: June 15, 2017, 08:35:19 pm »
I'm putting together a python tool to look up all my trade history for all my cryptocurrency holdings, and at some point I'll need to get my Openledger stuff in on the action. Is python-bitshares the right tool to use, and is this an appropriate thing to use public APIs for? Are the public apis that the web wallet connects to good for this sort of thing? I know in Steem it matters which plugins the node is configured for, and I'm not familiar enough with the Bitshares backend to know exactly what questions to ask here.

Howdy all - I just posted the following on Steemit:

I'm cross-posting here because I'm sure people here will know the answers:

What I'd like to do, but am not sure how:
I want to save my old BTS owner key somewhere and then update the BTS owner key to a new one. Once it's updated, the old key won't give access to the account, so I can go and drop the old key into the peerplays wallet without fear of unforseen security leaks.

How is the BTS owner key changed? I've looked at the permissions tab in the wallet and it's not obvious enough to me to be worth going and modifying all my permissions.

Technical Support / How do I refer users?
« on: October 15, 2015, 03:21:25 pm »
I bit the bullet and got a lifetime referral membership, because they're only $50 right now. How do I refer people? I keep thinking this MUST have been answered somewhere else, but I couldn't find it.

Muse/SoundDAC / Will NOTE snapshot include active DEX orders?
« on: October 06, 2015, 07:04:43 pm »
I have a couple orders on the DEX to sell some NOTEs - will the snapshot capture those, or do I need to cancel the orders before hand? Thinking more about it, I'll probably cancel them anyway just to avoid any weird disappointments, but I thought I'd ask anyway.

General Discussion / The market engine is not matching shorts properly
« on: April 10, 2015, 10:35:01 pm »
Right now, there are bids for BitUSD above the feed price. The feed price is about 211, the highest bid is 225. To test the market, I shorted BitUSD with 1000 BTS of collateral, and was able to borrow 2.3637 BitUSD. Now in my margin order it says I have about 1500 BTS, which means the proceeds of my short order were about 500 BTS. THAT IS THE WRONG AMOUNT!! I should have been matched with the highest bid and gotten the 225 price, but as you can calculate (500/2.3637), I only got the 211 price. I'm guessing I matched one of the many expired shorts.

I know the devs aren't allowed to talk to us anymore or some such insane bullshit, but is there anybody out there who knows how to get a fix for this in the pipeline? Thanks.

Muse/SoundDAC / NOTE Price discussion
« on: March 26, 2015, 03:17:59 pm »
Has anybody done any ROI calculations for NOTEs from the pre-sale? I can't recall my ballpark figures exactly, but it seems like the pre-sale was implying a market cap around $2MM, which isn't far from where NOTEs are trading now. Anybody care to give actual numbers?

Last week I'm quite sure I sent a deposit of 13,396 to Bter. I have screenshots of my client with all the "btercom" transactions filtered out, and my deposit shows up in that list.

However, Bter tech support tells me it's not showing up in the Bter wallet! Does anybody have any idea what this could mean? The txid prefix is 142a3e31, and you can see it's a transaction in this block:

Is there anywhere my deposit could have gone except to Bter? Does Bter need to re-scan? This happened around the time 0.5.0 came out; maybe the deposit came in while they were updating and somehow didn't get scanned properly by their wallet?

Is there a way they could scan my transaction in particular to verify that it's to them?

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