Blockstream Formalizes Research Team Dedicated To Bitcoin Innovation

The team will continue with projects designed to push the boundaries of what’s possible with Bitcoin.

Blockstream, a leading Bitcoin infrastructure company, has announced a formalized Blockstream Research team with a focus on advancing the platforms at the core of the Bitcoin ecosystem, tackling complex problems and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with Bitcoin.

There are a variety of projects already in progress that the research team is working on. The team has created a more robust programming language, Simplicity, which is designed as an alternative to Bitcoin Script. The team has also created Miniscript, a safer language for writing structured Bitcoin Scripts that enables analysis, composition, generic signing and more. In addition to this, the company is also developing Elements Script, a set of extensions to Bitcoin Script that includes new covenant opcodes, which are still being explored.

Above: “The Bitcoin Focused Cryptography Team,” from Blockstream.

Another area of focus for Blockstream is digital signatures. The company has developed Cross Input Signature Aggregation (CISA/XISA), which enables multiple inputs in a single transaction to share a single signature, reducing the size of transactions and improving the efficiency of the Bitcoin network. The team has also developed MuSig2, a solution designed to make Bitcoin multisig transactions more efficient and simultaneously more private.

Blockstream’s applied research team is also working on off-chain protocols such as Scriptless Scripts, which is a solution to enable smart contract execution to take place off-chain, providing benefits such as increased security, privacy, and scalability utilizing the power of Schnorr signatures. Fedimint, a federated e-cash protocol, enables a network of signers to accept bitcoin with deposits and withdrawals and mint e-cash notes for users while maintaining privacy at the level of the federation.

The research team now consists of 10 highly experienced researchers, including the likes of Andrew Poelstra, Andrew Chow, Dr. Russell O’Connor and Christian Lewe.

“Blockstream has been producing research output since its founding in 2014, contributing ideas like OP_CSV and covenants to Segwit and Taproot. Historically we’ve done this as Bitcoin contributors, as Blockstreamers, and as ourselves. I’m excited to continue putting out ground-breaking new ideas, such as MuSig, FROST, Simplicity and codex32, now under the Blockstream Research umbrella,” said Poelstra, who serves as Director of Research at Blockstream and is a computer science researcher and mathematician from the University of Texas at Austin. He joined the Bitcoin community in 2011 and became known for being the first to start a Rust implementation of Bitcoin, as well as contributing to libsecp256k1. Poelstra has co-invented Bulletproofs, Confidential Assets, Miniscript, and Taproot.

Dr. O’Connor, a Core tech engineer with a background in mathematics and computer science, is best known for his work as the developer and author of “Simplicity: A New Language for Blockchains.” The five-plus-year endeavor of Simplicity is expected to launch this year. Lewe, also a Core tech engineer, has quickly become a primary contributor to Simplicity and has also been instrumental in helping to maintain Miniscript.

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