Prof. C.E. Veni Madhavan
Keynote at ADCOM 2017
Money plays a central role in the conduct of human affairs. Money in the form of cash, as a store-of-value and as a medium of exchange, also
referred to as currency, takes many forms. These forms have evolved over centuries among civilizations from physical tokens as instruments to state issued denominational, at currencies of universal acceptance. The physical instruments co-exist with other non-physical forms of instruments, based on denotational, legal, political, economic and governance principles. The advent of computer, communication technologies in human activities of trade and commerce, brought new perspectives on money matters. A notable input from the scientific community was digital or electronic cash (ecash).
The properties of physical money, such as anonymity, privacy, transfer-ability, fungibility, ease and control of use, have made them a way of life for human beings. Rapid technological developments in the context of slowly changing sociological milieux, have prompted human ingenuity to come up with novel solutions.
We trace the technical developments in the field of cryptography, namely ecash, which provide many new ways of handling digital money analogous to the ways of using physical money. These employ the principle of crypto-graphically secure pseudo-random sequences called hash chains. We discuss the technical aspects of recent developments in this digital genre termed cryptocurrency. Here, the technical aspects get intertwined with other so-ciological features. We also point to our recent work in the arena of cryp-tocurrency that seeks to strike a balance between completely, decentralized or distributed fiscal instruments and state-mediated fiduciary instruments.
C.E.Veni Madhavan obtained his academic degrees, B.E.(Electrical Engineering) from College of Engineering, Madras, in 1969, M.E (Control Systems) from BITS Pilani, in 1971 and PhD (Control theory) from Indian Institute of Science in 1975. He worked in the industry, Air India (1976-1977), National Informatics Center (1977-1982), before joining the Computer Science and Automation department of IISc in 1983. He was a senior professor in the CSA department and retired formally in August 2014. He was the Chairman of CSA department during 1998-2000. He was invited to head the DRDO laboratory, SAG, New Delhi, during 2000-2003.
His current research areas of interest are computational linguistics and pragmatic cryptanalysis. He continues to work, in IISc, on three R&D projects in the areas of cryptography and natural language processing and on several technical advisory tasks spanning government policy and academic and research mentorship.
He has worked on many scientific, industrial consulting and development projects sponsored by government and corporate sectors in these areas. He has published over 80 papers in refereed journals and conferences, and delivered over 200 invited talks in national conferences and universities. He has guided 15 PhD, 11 MS and over 100 ME theses. Some of his project engagements were in the areas of cryptanalysis (MCIT), cryptography (TCoE-DOT) and cognitive networks (DST, DRDO). He is the co-author of a book on Public-key Cryptography published in India in 2009.
He obtained in 2001, an award by the Mathematical Association of India, for distinguished services in mathematics education and research. He obtained in March 2011, an award by IISc, for Excellence in Research in Engineering. He and co-authors obtained a Best Paper Prize in July 2011, in Boston USA, in the Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.
He was an Associate Faculty of the Centre for Neuroscience of IISc. He was the Chief Executive of the Society for Innovation and Development (SID) of IISc, during 2006-2012. He is closely associated with activities of the professional bodies, the Cryptology Research Society of India (CRSI), the Ramanujan Mathematical Society (RMS), ACS, INAE. He also works very closely with the government policy and
R&D funding panels of DST, IFCPAR, MCIT, DRDO, NRB, NSCS, NTRO and with academic councils of universities and research centers, CRRAIMSCS, DSU, SASTRA, AMRITA, as member or Chairman of technical expert committees .