Emin Gün Sirer

Emin Gün Sirer is a Turkish-American computer scientist who developed the Avalanche Consensus protocol and is the CEO and co-founder of Ava Labs.

Emin Gün Sirer is co-founder and CEO at Ava Labs and a prominent professor of computer science at Cornell University, where his research focuses on operating systems, networking and distributed systems. He is well-known for having implemented the first currency that used proof-of-work (PoW) to mint coins, as well as his research on selfish mining, characterizing the scale and centralization of existing cryptocurrencies, and having proposed the leading protocols for on-chain and off-chain scaling.

He is also the co-director of the Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Smart Contracts (IC3), which aims to move blockchain-based applications from whiteboards and proofs-of-concept to tomorrow’s fast and reliable financial systems. Sirer spent many years teaching at Cornell prior to founding Avalanche, the most downloaded dissertation at Cornell University - a Ph.D. dissertation On Scalability of Blockchain Technologies was penned by Adem Efe Gencer in 2017 under the direction of Sirer and Robbert van Renesse.


Emin Gün Sirer attended high school at Robert College, received his undergraduate degree in computer science at Princeton University, and finished his graduate studies at the University of Washington. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering in 2002 under the supervision of Brian N. Bershad.

Prior to his appointment as a professor at Cornell University, Sirer worked at AT&T Bell Labs on Plan 9, at DEC SRC, and at NEC.

Sirer is known for his contributions to operating systems, distributed systems, and fundamental cryptocurrency research. He co-developed the SPIN (operating system), where the implementation and interface of an operating system could be modified at run-time by type-safe extension code. He also led the Nexus OS effort, where he developed new techniques for attesting to and reasoning about the semantic properties of remote programs.

Karma is a virtual currency for peer-to-peer systems, introduced by Sirer and co-authors in 2003. It is designed to eliminate the free-loader problem, i.e. preventing malicious users from consuming resources without giving anything in return. It is the first peer-to-peer currency with a distributed mint.

Sirer and Ittay Eyal wrote and published the paper "Majority is not Enough, Bitcoin Mining is Vulnerable" which describes the selfish mining attack, an attack on Bitcoin which is profitable even for an attacker with only 33% of total hash power, which is less than the 50% required by the original security analysis in Satoshi Nakamoto's Bitcoin whitepaper. Sirer, Eyal, and other co-authors developed Bitcoin-NG, a bitcoin scaling solution, and Bitcoin Covenants, a security solution.

Sirer is also co-founder of bloXroute, a company offering a solution to the scalability bottleneck of the Layer-0 network layer. In 2020, he was the co-director of IC3, the Initiative for Cryptocurrency And Contracts.

Sirer led development of the Avalanche Consensus protocol, and its native token, AVAX. The Avalanche project was incubated at Cornell University, where Emin Gün Sirer was assisted by PhD candidates Maofan Yin and Kevin Sekniqi. Ava Labs is a technology company founded by Sirer in 2019, with the express purpose of developing an alternative blockchain technology for the financial sector.


Emin Gün Sirer envisions a future where advanced technology and innovative solutions shape the landscape of operating systems, distributed systems, and cryptocurrency research. With a strong foundation in computer science and a diverse range of experiences, his vision encompasses transformative advancements that address critical challenges and unlock new possibilities.

Emin Gün Sirer's vision encompasses the pursuit of transformative advancements in operating systems, distributed systems, and cryptocurrency research. Through his pioneering work, he aims to drive innovation, enhance security, and revolutionize the way we approach technology, enabling a future where advanced systems and blockchain solutions empower individuals and organizations across various sectors.

Recognition and Awards
Emin Gün Sirer was honored as a Brilliant-10 by Popular Science, a prestigious award that acknowledges his outstanding contributions to the field. In addition to this, Emin Gün Sirer has also received the National Science Foundation CAREER Award. This esteemed award is granted to exceptional individuals who demonstrate promising potential in their respective fields and exhibit a strong commitment to both research and education. Furthermore, Emin Gün Sirer has made notable contributions to the world of technology through his patented inventions. One of his remarkable patents is titled "A Process for Rewriting Executable Content on a Network Server or Desktop Machine in Order to Enforce Site-Specific Properties," which he co-authored with Brian N. Bershad. This patent is registered under US Patent #6865735 and was issued on February 3, 2005.

Emin Gün Sirer
Professor, blockchain researcher, technology innovator, cryptocurrency expert, entrepreneur, thought leader
Known for
SPIN (Operating System), HyperDex, Avalanche (Consensus Protocol)
National Science Foundation CAREER Award
B.S.E. (Computer Science, Princeton University), PhD (Computer Science, University of Washington)
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