CCDI organises webinar to promote blockchain and cryptographic primitive application

Blockchain, an emerging technology based on a distributed computing system and cryptography, is driving the 4th Industrial Revolution (IR) and Internet of Things (IoT) with increasing impact on cyber security, insurance, banking, data and financial analytics. The Centre for Curriculum Development and Innovation (CCDI) organised a webinar titled “Cryptography: Core Technology of Blockchain” on 23 October 2020. It was held via Zoom for academics and members of the public to understand the blockchain and its function.

The webinar, which saw more than 100 participants, was presented by UTAR Lee Kong Chian Faculty of Engineering and Science (LKC FES) Head of Programme for Master of Mathematics Dr Denis Wong Chee Keong who presented the use of blockchain technology for insurance underwriting process as a case study, cryptographic primitives and the curriculum design. The webinar was moderated by LCK FES Prof Dr Chia Gek Ling.

Dr Denis Wong during the Q&A session

Furthermore, Dr Denis Wong shared his experience in drawing linkage of mathematics to blockchain technology into selected Year 2 and Year 3 Department of Mathematical and Actuarial Sciences (DMAS) courses. The exposure of students to these theory-based courses have led to Final Year Project research in relation to IR4.0, IoT, cyber security, insurance, banking, data and financial analytics. Dr Denis Wong also spoke about the history of blockchain, advantage and disadvantage, zero-knowledge identification protocol and other related topics.

“Cryptography is a branch of mathematics to study the internal structure of different types of schemes and primitive. Blockchain is almost inseparable with cryptography because there are a lot of cryptography primitives used in blockchain. A blockchain is a distributed ledger with an append-only data structure to store a continuously growing list of transaction; the blockchain is replicated and maintained among the members of the network. Some of the unique properties of blockchain include decentralisation and the members in blockchain have equal rights, thus making it transparent. Blockchain has the properties of unforgeability and resists double spending as well as immutability whereby the data stored in the blockchain cannot be modified. Some of the main components in a blockchain include cryptographic hash, timestamp and transaction data. Cryptographic primitive is one of the most important components in a blockchain. Blockchain has its own limitation and it has limited storage capacity. It might store sensitive data which may be accessed by an unauthorised user,” Dr Denis Wong explained.

Business sectors which use blockchain-based application

Dr Denis Wong explaining the blocks in blockchain technology

Dr Denis Wong also mentioned, “The blocks are linked together using the hash function. A block consists of several components such has block header, block size, transaction and transaction counter. The transaction is also linked together using the hash and signature scheme. X, Y, K and H are hash family whereby X is a set of possible messages while Y is a finite set of possible message digests, K is a finite set of possible keys. In blockchain, there are two signature schemes known as the Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA) and Edwards Curve Digital Algorithm (EdDSA).”

He later spoke about Combinatorial Design and Finite Group Theory which is currently offered in the Applied Mathematics with Computing programme that studies different types of block design. “A block design is a set of the family of subsets which are chosen to satisfy some properties. One of the block designs which receives a lot of attention is the Balanced Incomplete Block Designs (BIBD) which is used in the statistical issues in the experimental designs. The objective to combine few disciplines and ideas from algebra and combinatory to investigate multiple open problems in Post Quantum Cryptography,” said Dr Denis Wong.

The session was followed by a Q&A session between the speaker and participants.

Dr Denis Wong Chee Keong received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Mathematics and PhD degree in Algebraic Coding Theory from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). His research interests include algebraic coding theory, algebraic combinatorics and cryptography.

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