Phil Daian

Researcher && PhD Student @initc3 @Cornell Tech

Applied Crypto / Distributed Systems / Programming Languages / Cryptoeconomics


ENS: phildaian.eth


About Me (Google Scholar Profile)

Hi, I'm Phil! I'm a researcher, second year PhD student, and software engineer with a passion for computer security and applied cryptography. My research interests span several computer science subfields. My current work primarily covers cryptocurrencies and smart contracts.

I am advised by Ari Juels and based in New York City.
My work is generously supported by the NSF GRFP award.


Selected Publications


KEVM: A Complete Semantics of the Ethereum Virtual Machine

Appeared, CSF18; E Hildenbrandt, M Saxena, X Zhu, N Rodrigues, P Daian, D Guth, G Rosu


Real-Time Cryptocurrency Exchange using Trusted Hardware

Preprint; I Bentov, Y Ji, F Zhang, Y Li, X Zhao, L Breidenbach, P Daian, and A Juels


Snow white: Provably secure proofs of stake

Preprint; P Daian, R Pass, E Shi


PieceWork: Generalized Outsourcing Control for Proofs of Work

Appeared, BITCOIN17; P Daian, I Eyal, A Juels, EG Sirer


Runtime Verification at Work: A Tutorial

Appeared, RV16; P Daian, D Guth, C Hathhorn, Y Li, E Pek, M Saxena, TF Şerbănuţă, ...


RV-ECU: Maximum Assurance In-Vehicle Safety Monitoring

Appeared, SAE16; P Daian, S Shiraishi, A Iwai, B Manja, G Rosu


Application Assurance for Open Platform In-Vehicle Infotainment System

Patent Application; S Shiraishi, G Rosu, P Daian, A Iwai, H Kuwajima


Active Projects

A few selected projects I currently hack on, often with a number of excellent collaborators:

Project Co-Lead


True utility token allowing users to store and tokenize Ethereum's underlying computation resource, gas. Built on Ethereum as part of Project Chicago.

Project Co-Lead

The Hydra Project

Framework for economically secure smart contracts, decentralized/trustless bug and security bounties, and avoidance of error/loss. Built on Ethereum.

Project Lead

Playground for white hat smart contract hackers to build their skills with real on-chain challenges.

Contributor / Advisor


Formal semantics of the Ethereum Virtual Machine, usable for proving contracts correct.


Snow White

Provably secure proof of stake protocol (Sleepy model) built on an honest majority assumption.

Lead Engineer

RV-Monitor and Applications

Lightweight formally rigorous verification tool for the aerospace and automotive domains.

In addition to the above, I provide security consulting services to the for EVM-based contracts, and have advised several token and other contracts through formal reports. Some of these reports may be published at I'm very proud to say that my audits currently are the primary or only review on over 1B USD of cryptoassets. I also enjoy amateur lampworking!


Selected Talks

I love talking about my research (some slides/videos available):

There are many more of these that I'm still gathering, so bear with me please!

Work Experience


Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Contracts (IC3)

Researcher and PhD student in all things blockchain at Cornell Tech.

My work covers a mix of distributed systems, applied security, applied cryptography, and programming languages. I collaborate with a wide range of faculty and students on a number of diverse projects, and help drive IC3's research agenda with a focus on secure smart contracts.


Runtime Verification, Inc. (RV)

Previously: software engineer. Currently: head of smart contract strategy.

RV is a small bootstrapped formal methods startup focusing on high precision, mathematically principled, and practical formal verification tools for a wide range of applications. My initial roles covered private R&D in the automotive and aerospace domains, and I am currently strategically overseeing RV's expansion into the smart contract domain; check out our offerings!.


Formal Systems Lab @ UIUC (FSL)

Research programmer.

FSL is a formal methods research group focused on increasing the quality of computing systems through research into mathematically rigorous programming techniques and tools. While at FSL, I investigated applications of the K Semantic Framework and developed the kweb tool.

Fun Facts

  • 128

    Bugs introduced today

  • 115

    Bugs found today

  • 6970

    Cups of coffee to date

  • 0

    Award-winning papers

Cool, you made it to the bottom! I wish there were something cool here :'(. Maybe reach out and say hi?

Disclaimer (updated Oct 10 2017): I do everything I can to remain unbiased by conflicts in my research. For full disclosure, I hold nontrivial financial interest in Bitcoin (30%), Ethereum (50%), Ethereum Classic (10%), Bitcoin Cash (10%), and AirSwap token (??). I am a technical advisor for the AirSwap team, and have done paid / hourly consulting for Tether, OmiseGo, and some smaller tokens.