Academic Qualifications of Core Developers - What are they?


I am seeking to establish the academic qualifications of the core developers in the Ethereum Project.
Can someone point me to a wiki that would establish this?

Why, do I inquire?

1: I had the opportunity to visit the BitCoin DeCentral office in Toronto last week, and while there, I was informed that there is "no difference" between C/C++ and Python re: the Ethereum implementation. This remarkable statement was made by Vitalik Buterin, who I understand has dropped out of first year university, to better engage in this space. Buterin seems to suggest that a Python implementation will scale, will satisfy security, will safe guard version control, as well as a say, C/C++.

2: Statements made by Charles Hoskinson suggests that he is a pure mathematician and now cryptographer and software developer, but I have not been able to determine which departments and institutions of higher education that he has graduated from. His LinkedIn website cites - Front Range Community College, Metropolitan College, and the University of Colorado (Boulder), but I can find no reference to departments or degrees attained.

I have not had the opportunity to vet the other core developers, but these credentials are looking a little thin, and as a consequence the design and implementation may reflect these accomplishments.

Are there other core developers with more established credentials than these?

My sense is that academic qualifications and experience are being thrown around loosely in the Ethereum community, and that this will come back to bite it, in the future.

Lastly, the Nakamoto paper, is not a paper - period. It might be loosely described as a note or a comment, but for Charles Hoskinson to refer to i, as paper, is a gross exaggeration and simply misleading. Some experience with published mathematical or protocol specification papers would afford a greater degree of understanding with accepted norms.


  • aatkinaatkin Member Posts: 75 ✭✭
    edited March 2014
    I for one am not too interested in their degrees. Vitalik is young. Let the ideas stand on their own merit. Mistakes will be made. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Larry Ellison all dropped out as well. Having said that here's Neal Koblitz's wikipedia article: I somehow don't think the independent co-creator of elliptic curve cryptography would be lured away by a start-up based on unsound math. Some start-ups here in Silicon Valley have an informal "no candidates with MBAs or over 40s need apply" policy. Academic credentials aren't what they used to be here. Now it's "Show Me", as in your code and running apps much like a portfolio/audition process undertaken by artists.

    PS: We refer to the Nakamoto paper, but loosely it's a whitepaper. It's not a peer reviewed academic article. Same with the Ethereum whitepaper. I see that as a positive as it lowers the bar to understanding for a lay audience. I try to understand the SCIP and Zerocoin academic articles and my eyes glaze over, it's very tough sledding for most of us.

    PPS: It's peer to peer (client=server). As long as the C++ and the Python (and the Go etc.) conform carefully to the specs and protocol, I don't really see an issue with the client. Scaling of the overall system is a different question.
    Post edited by aatkin on
  • JDSJDS Member Posts: 3
    Hi Aatkin,

    Thanks for your reply.

    I understand what you have said and to a degree could agree with you, but I was/have been surprised at the remarkable comments and statements made by these principle core developers - and I take issue with Charles as a cryptographer and mathematician. I would like to be corrected, but it looks to me like these degrees are soft. If soft, then I would, if in his position, not be making the claims that he has. Please correct me.

    I have extensive experience in both research... and development... and distribution via Telcos/ with private branding of communications products: clients, servers and the protocols between each... and it matters a great deal - who is designing, who is implementing, and who is testing. I have additionally experience in funding research via Bell-Northern Research and North American universities... and again, it matters a great deal who is in the research groups. Lastly, I have experience working with investors. Investors need solid credentials and UofT or MIT would trump a college... somewhere. So... if Bill Gates or Jobs were doing development - which they weren't (as developers) - then these examples might support your position, but at a technical level in this instance, they do not. In each of these cases, above, credentials matter a great deal. Try applying to Apple or Google today. My point is, that sure let the code speak for itself, but avoid making remarkable statements.

    It would be better, if these developers had a lower profile and let others speak to the public. By way of example, Gavin of should not have been put in front of the Council on Foreign Relations. This was least 'information dense' talk that I have ever seen and it did not advance the interests of the BitCoin community. Developers are best left in the lab, where their expertise has been established. There are certainly exceptions. Yes, I know this is/will be an unpopular statement here, but it is accurate.

    Open source has created a new form of 'en masse rapid prototyping'.

    Hoping to be proven wrong.

  • aatkinaatkin Member Posts: 75 ✭✭
    @JDS? yes I see what you're saying and I think we all have to be careful not to drink the kool-aid. I've always tried to focus on cryptocurrency apps rather than currency speculation.
    Perhaps you could review the papers and give some feedback? There are few among us with your credentials.
  • FreddyFenderFreddyFender Member Posts: 39
    @JDS are you here to help or complain? Nortel? Are you claiming that academic hyperbole amounts to anything, or intelligence is the sole prevail of dead thought? My experience is nothing and I ascribe to nothing and therefor consume no koolaid apart from the edge. Academia was once on the edge of thought and pushing experience, much the same for corporation and organization in centuries past. I see a new paradigm bordered by disorganization and self-justifying systems. I hope you are willing to vet the newness and learn of what it is we are searching. A dynamic of untested connectivity, walls that fall away with every new day's venture. I would rather abandon the previous generation's grand lecture and embrace this vibrant thought, chasing meme; clairvoyant prescience. Maybe leave us fools alone and we will no longer fool you. Let me know when you achieve supreme authority and I will not bow to you or your cynicism.
  • GeorgSGeorgS Zurich, SwitzerlandMember Posts: 2
    @JDS : while I do think academic credentials matter to a certain extent, I think you're being overly concerned at this point.

    First, as @aatkin points out, the mere presence of someone like Neil Koblitz gives enough credibility to the theoretical (cryptographic) foundations of the project.

    Second, academic titles only tell a (small) part of a story. A PhD in computer science for example to me just means that someone is willing to invest several years into targeted research and has the endurance to break new grounds in his field. For most practical purposes, such a person is of no more value than someone who has been in the industry for a few years. Academic knowledge tends to concentrate around very specific topics within a field. So in the case of Ethereum, one would want to look for experienced PhDs in the fields of cryptography or distributed computing willing to dive head-first into the startup world - a daunting task to say the least. And besides, despite its young age, already there seem to be very bright minds in this community, which I personally find very assuring.

    Lastly, the Ethereum team continues to stress the fact that the current implementations are merely proof-of-concepts in something like a pre-alpha stage. Bear in mind that with the targeted amount of funds raised, they're in the position to hire experienced specialists in the areas they deem necessary. On the topic of tech choices, I think you're focusing on the wrong question, when you ask about specific languages. It's never a language that scales or is secure, it's always the implementation or architecture of a given system. So in this spirit, yes, a Python, C/C++ or Go application can and will scale if it's properly architected. That being said, I am in agreement with your disagreement in terms of language choice for the alpha clients. For me personally, Python is too loose, C/C++ is too detail-focused and Go is just too niche, which is why I'm currently working on a .NET implementation of the specification, that aims to be easy to understand in order to foster main-stream developer adoption.

    Disclaimer: I hold an MSc in Computer Science from ETH (not Ethereum, but the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) and have been in the industry for several years now. Yet I seem to struggle with grasping some of the concepts from Vitalik's blog posts, which is why I don't consider his lack of academic credentials a particular problem to me

    PS: we should strive to keep the conversations in a positive, constructive tone if we were to avoid turning this forum into /r/Bitcoin ;)
  • FreddyFenderFreddyFender Member Posts: 39
    Thank you for pointing out the developer basis for Ethereum's approach. I find the OP's comment are best suited for a PM to the moderators or directly approaching the founders. The fact that it was brought up here on the forum was specifically to set a tone of authority, thereby nullifying any counter comments.
    I have no say in the makeup of the founders or their business model and find the forum comments that are attempting to hold sway are contemptuous at best, nefarious at worst. Why bring up the remarks here, now, as if by simply stating them we now have primacy over the topic? Maybe the forum is not a place to perform investigations against the founders unless you plan to indict them for simply being themselves. Not everyone follows the ideal mold or attends the best schools.
    I would like to know if you approach all investments with equal scepticism? Is your way the best? Should we view you with scepticism? Should we be wary of your motive and methods? I would never trust a human that used a random forum to score academic credential by dispelling others' academic credential.
  • JDSJDS Member Posts: 3
    Hi George,

    I will let this topic go... my experience is that credentials matter a great deal. The best developers that I have hired/worked with are Masters, Computer Science graduates from recognized universities, as they have demonstrated an ability assimilate knowledge and compete amongst their peers.

    I got into this topic, not because, I wanted to focus on academic degrees, but rather because Charles Hoskinson was making assertions that I did not think had merit. People that do this, create problems down stream. I had watched part of the video here at where these claims were made. I stopped the video to check the credentials, because attaining the 'title' of cryptographer is not a simple undertaking. Similarly, the assertion by Buterin does not make any sense in product development. There are good reasons for choosing C/C++ language for the high performance servers. If you are prototyping then, who cares... The issue is, however... prototypes always go live. Investors do not want to wait 6+ months to port the prototype code to C/C++ to achieve scalability and then migrate trial user base and then go through certification with the service provider. With regard to C#, I would not choose this either. It is meant for corporate in-house environments, application, user interface layers, although you can link C/C++ executables to a C# service implementation. The Ethereum engine in these systems will be a daemon/service implementation. (Example: I would not write Nginx in Python or a high level language.)

    I have begun looking at the code in BitCoin. It is not designed for performance, not designed for MS Windows (which is where the target audience is - corporations). not design for fail-over, not designed for error reporting. I could say a great deal more... about it is not designed for.

    I have not looked at the Ethereum code - yet.

    Topic dropped.
  • JasperJasper Eindhoven, the NetherlandsMember Posts: 514 ✭✭✭
    @JDS If you are looking for the rigid structures you found in telcos, it is unlikely you will find them.

    Similarly, your mentioning of the bitcoin paper as 'not a paper' is also ridiculous.. It explains a new idea fairly well, comes with implementation that makes it falsifiable, has the format of a paper. It uses references..

    You are in love with authority, and the old ways of doing things. I'd rather hear about it, even if they make mistakes.. I prefer not being left in the dark and disconnected because some lawyer or PR-guy in a company decided to be scared someone might something bad. Which i dont expect vitalik did, misunderstanding seems more likely.
  • SofSof AustraliaMember Posts: 10
    A university education is the old way of learning about something. I did it and many people still do. Many people choose not to, rather they learn by doing. I look forward to seeing Ethereum come to life. That will be the validation of the people involved. Not a certificate that they passed some examinations about how we used to do things.
  • giuliogiulio Member Posts: 7
    In my experience, academic qualifications are like the length of you-know-what. They matter very little when it comes to actual achievement.
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