The co-founder of Ethereum Vitalik Buterin has been awarded an honorary doctorate in economics by the University of Basel, an official statement published November 30, 2018, revealed. The institution’s Faculty of Business and Economics acknowledged that Buterin’s contributions had had a profound impact on the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry.
Located in Basel, Switzerland, the university is one of the oldest in the world. The institution also boasts a sizable list of distinguished alumni, including mathematicians Leonhard Euler, Daniel Bernoulli, and physician Friedrich Miescher. Every year, the university hosts a traditional ‘Dies Academicus’ event in which prominent individuals from various fields are awarded honorary doctorates. The celebration held on November 30, 2018, marked the institution’s 558th such ceremony.
Buterin was recognized for “his contribution to promoting decentralization and equal participation in the digital revolution, as well as for his services on cryptocurrencies, smart contracts, and institutional design.” As the co-founder and inventor of Ethereum, he published numerous scientifically sound papers without an accompanying degree or commitment to a university education. His academic contributions include the Ethereum white paper “Ethereum: A Next Generation Smart Contract & Decentralized Application Platform” and the platform’s proof of stake specification, “Casper The Friendly Finality Gadget.”
Buterin responded to the announcement, “I’m honored to have received an honorary doctorate from the University of Basel, the oldest University of Switzerland. Switzerland is well known for its innovative blockchain research.” The country notably also houses the headquarters of The Ethereum Foundation, which Buterin is a founding and principal member of.
Launched in 2015, Ethereum was the first blockchain platform to support smart contracts and the development of decentralized applications. Before that, the technology was primarily utilized for the development of cryptocurrencies. Since then, Ethereum has quickly appreciated in valuation to become the second largest cryptocurrency by market cap. As a result of this price appreciation, its initial coin offering has one of the the highest ROI (return on investment) rate in cryptocurrency history.
Buterin’s Past and Future
Vitalik Buterin dropped out of the University of Waterloo at the age of 20 to continue his blockchain-related research. He was a recipient of the Thiel Fellowship, a program that grants promising individuals under 23 with $100,000 throughout two years. In a later interview with CTV News, he said:
“It actually was scary. I was quite worried that if I stopped learning and following the same path, I would fall behind and not know certain essential things.”
Nevertheless, the decision to create Ethereum has made Buterin one of the most influential personalities in the blockchain and technology industry. With an estimated net worth of $400-500 million in February 2018, Forbes Magazine included him on their list of ‘The Richest People in Cryptocurrency’.
At the annual Ethereum developer conference Devcon4 in November 2018, Buterin promised that the next major upgrade to the blockchain platform, Serenity, would bring significant scaling improvements of ‘up to 1000x’. The update is expected to integrate Buterin’s Casper protocol, which will finally migrate Ethereum to a proof of stake consensus mechanism.