EECS Special Seminar: Geoff Ramseyer: Scaling the Unscalable: Solving Worst-Case Contention with Better Economic Mechanisms

Tuesday, April 9
11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Grier Room A


  • Date: Tuesday, April 9
  • Time: 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
  • Location: Grier Room A
Additional Location Details:
Brute-force engineering can squeeze only so much throughput from
applications with limited parallelism.  Instead, at some point, we need to
attack scalability from the other side: squeezing functionality from
scalable systems, even though this requires applying domain expertise at
much lower levels of software design.  In this talk, I show how
better economic mechanisms can achieve near-linear scalability on two
problems that previously flummoxed the fintech industry:
decentralized asset exchanges and general smart contracts.  In
both cases, trading a small amount of latency and semantics can
improve performance by orders of magnitude over state-of-the-art
systems.  Perhaps more surprisingly, the new semantics offer
additional security and economic benefits--including increased liquidity,
more efficient auditing, and the ability to avoid at least
one class of smart-contract vulnerability.  Ultimately, the key to
scalability lies in studying software architecture in tandem with the way a
system fits into the outside world.  Doing so opens exciting new
parallel systems architectures and challenges while simultaneously
raising intriguing theoretical and economic questions.

Geoff Ramseyer is a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University.
His research interests span  
building scalable, high-performance systems and analyzing
the economic tradeoffs implicit in computer system architectures.
He received his PhD from Stanford in 2023 and
his BS in 2017 from the University of Chicago.


  • Frans Kaashoek