26 May 2022 CSNEWS Department of Computer Science , Faculty , Student , Database

26 May 2022 — NUS Computing PhD graduate Dr Ruan Pingcheng received an Honourable Mention for the ACM SIGMOD Jim Gray Dissertation Award 2022 in late April this year for his dissertation, Blockchains: Novel Data Systems and Beyond.

The award recognises excellent research by doctoral candidates in database research, and is awarded to a single winner each year. Honourable Mentions are given to the top front runners for the award.

Dr Ruan received the Honourable Mention for his dissertation on optimising blockchain. A blockchain is a distributed database that stores information electronically in a digital format. Blockchains are used in cryptocurrency systems like Bitcoin to maintain secure and decentralised records of transactions without the need for third-party applications.

“My research focuses on the optimisation of blockchains from the perspective of data systems. With the optimisation of blockchains, its uses are now multi-fold. For example, this expands the use of blockchain in other applications, and speeds up their performance to match those of modern databases,” explained Dr Ruan. “For years, blockchains have been used solely in cryptocurrencies and the finance industry, serving monetary transfers between anonymous transactors. By optimising blockchains, this unleashes its potential across other industries, enabling sectors such as supply chains to take advantage of blockchains’ distinctive trust-building capability.”

Dr Ruan, who was advised by Lee Kong Chian Centennial Professor Ooi Beng Chin for his PhD thesis, added: “I am very honoured to receive this Honourable Mention at ACM SIGMOD, which nicely concludes my entire PhD journey at NUS Computing. I believe the recognition from the Award Committee stems from the novelty of my research: treating blockchains as distributed databases. During my PhD studies, I noticed that research on blockchains was mostly limited to the security community, and the domain was mostly limited to cryptocurrencies. I pioneered a new direction of research that attempts to ‘databasify blockchains’ by focusing more on a blockchain’s data processing nature, which is the aspect that security researchers tend to ignore."

Dr Ruan also recently received the IMDA Excellence in Computing Prize for his paper. The prize is awarded to the PhD student with the best thesis in the school.