EPFL and Cryptography

EPFL and Cryptography

by August 14, 2018

When one of the most prominent Swiss research institutes ( starts reflecting upon Blockchain technology and practical aspects, the plethora of opportunities seems infinite. EPFL’s goal is to establish a digital guarantee of trust among several partners through e-voting system.

École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne & Center for Digital Trust

Blockchain education has been a hot topic for the past few years but an important number of individuals still lack of resources in order to decipher the huge potential lying in this technology. To fill this gap, some of the most comprehensive courses in Switzerland are now available and include lectures and modules from top universities and Hochschule.

In the French-speaking canton of Vaud, nestled along the Leman Lake, the prestigious Swiss Federal Institute of Technology announced last year:

Martin Vetterli

Martin Vetterli

“Digitalization is often compared to a huge wave surging across the earth. People need to know the basics if they want to ride that wave confidently and have trust in it”

noted the President of the school, Martin Vetterli.

The successor of Patrick Aebischer, has deep knowledge of digitalization having conducted numerous research and contributions in the general area of digital signal processing. It is him who announced during a conference held in Lausanne in December 2017 the creation of Center for Digital Trust (C4DT) partnering with eight high institutional and industrial experts such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Lausanne University Hospital and companies like Swisscom, SwissRe, Swissquote.

EPFL & C4DT & Blockchain Technology

In July, only seven months after the announcement was made, the first e-voting system was tested at the EPFL. This is the first one of its kind guaranteeing both cryptographic anonymity and decentralized verification. EPFL’s laboratory named DEDIS standing for Decentralized and Distributed Systems Laboratory worked closely with the university to launch and test EPFL’s internal elections through e-voting method.

What this new system enables is the decentralization of voting and counting process through principles of distributed trust via blockchain technology. To make it simple: if previously, the system was run by one central service alone, the latter entirely changed. Indeed, several independent managed machines are now ensuring collective responsibility. The data collected remains entirely anonymous while the election outcome is transparent, guaranteed to be valid and readily verifiable as well.

Bryan Ford, DEDIS director, is proud of both the partnership established with EPFL and the contribution of the laboratory. He stated in the EPFL media blog:

“We were able to harness our expertise in decentralization technology in order to increase the appeal of e-voting and meet the legitimate needs of voters and electoral authorities.”

The Swiss Confederation is not at its first attempt at e-voting. As previously mentioned, the startup Procivis and the University of Zurich were developing a joint e-voting solution based on blockchain. The Zug canton as well launched in mid-November last year the eID system allowing its citizens’ digital access to council services through the decentralized database from the Ethereum blockchain.


Featured image via Pixabay