Emin Gun Sirer

Emin Gun Sirer is a Turkish-American computer scientist. He developed the Avalanche Consensus protocol and is currently the CEO and co-founder of the . Sirer was an associate professor of computer science at Cornell University and is the former co-director of The Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Smart Contracts (IC3)[16]. He is known for his contributions to peer-to-peer systems, operating systems, and computer networking.[1][11]

Sirer is an active member of the community. He is a frequent speaker at conferences and has been featured on several podcasts. His research and commentary on have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Forbes, and other media outlets. In addition to his research, he regularly writes blog posts, gives lectures, and participates in panel discussions. He is also a mentor to aspiring entrepreneurs and helps them understand the fundamentals of . [12][13][14][15]

Early Life & Education

Born in Istanbul, Turkey in 1975, Emin Gün Sirer attended high school at Robert College, received his BSE in Computer Science from Princeton University,[2][3] 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. [17]


Before becoming a professor at Cornell University, Emin Gün Sirer worked at AT&T Bell Labs on Plan 9, at Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) SRC, and at NEC.

Sirer is best known for his contributions to operating systems and distributed systems. He developed the SPIN (operating system),[4] where the implementation and interface of an operating system could be modified safely at run-time by type-safe extension code.[5] He also led the Nexus OS effort, where he developed new techniques for attesting to, and reasoning about, the semantic properties of remote programs.[6][7][8]

Sirer is a proponent, researcher, and developer of technology. In addition to and , he works on different types of data storage such as the next-generation NoSQL database storage, HyperDex.[9]


In 2003, Sirer and co-authors introduced Karma, a virtual currency for peer-to-peer systems. The currency is designed to eliminate the freeloader 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 on . [19]

In 2014, Sirer and Ittay Eyal[21] wrote and published the paper "Majority is not Enough, Bitcoin Mining is Vulnerable"[20] which describes the 'selfish mining' attack, an attack on  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  Bitcoin whitepaper. Sirer, Eyal, and other co-authors developed Bitcoin-NG, a bitcoin scaling solution, and Bitcoin Covenants, a security solution. [12]

In 2017, he co-founded bloXroute, a company offering a solution to the scalability bottleneck of the Layer-0 network layer. [18]


In 2019, Emin Gün Sirer founded Ava Labs, a technology company with the express purpose of developing alternative for the financial sector. Sirer led the development of the Avalanche Consensus protocol, and its native token, . The project was incubated at Cornell University, where Emin Gün Sirer was assisted by Ph.D. candidates [22] and [24]. [11][31]

In early 2020, the project went public and began community building. In July of the same year, the project raised $42 million in a successful public sale that was scheduled to last 15 days but ran out of AVAX tokens in a little over 4 hours.

The key idea in Avalanche is that we have a protocol that's leaderless, where any number of participants can join, all participants have a voice and they use a revolutionary new probabilistic protocol for coming to a decision very very quickly. This protocol is quiescent so when there's no work to do, you get to do nothing. It's green, there's no mining and it scales with increasing numbers of participants.

- Sirer explained during his presentation of the platform.

In May 2022, the trillion-dollar crypto crash happened just as was gaining traction, causing a 76% drop in the price of its native token . Responding to Forbes in an interview, Sirer stated:

All asset prices—not just crypto but also equities—have gone down. That's sort of where we are. Price is not something that I'm supremely interested in. I'm building, and everybody I know is building. [25]


On August 26, 2022, a whistleblower site Crypto Leaks posted a lengthy expose[26] that claimed Ava Labs paid crypto-focused law firm Freedman Roche[27] in tokens and equity to file this adversarial litigation. The post includes short, recorded videos of the law firm’s founder, Kyle Roche[34], describing how he used the U.S. legal system to draw regulatory attention like a “magnet” against alternative layer-1 blockchains including and Dfinity, and protect interests. [29]

Emin Gün Sirer responded to the allegations in a blog post, calling it “categorically false.”

“These claims evidently came about when Kyle Roche, a lawyer at a firm we retained in the early days of our company, tried to impress a potential business partner by making false claims about the nature of his work for Ava Labs,”

-wrote Gün Sirer in his blog post. [28]
He also tweeted in response:

"How could anyone believe something so ridiculous as the conspiracy theory nonsense on Cryptoleaks? We would never engage in the unlawful, unethical and just plain wrong behavior claimed in these self-serving videos and inflammatory article. Our tech & team speak for themselves." [30]

Awards & Recognition

  • Brilliant-10 by Popular Science[10]
  • National Science Foundation CAREER Award [33]
  • 2015 - 2018 ACM Recognition of Service Award
  • 2010 - 2012 Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Outstanding Contribution
  • 2018 - 2019 ACM Fellow
  • 2018 - 2019 ACM SIGOPS Hall of Fame Award [32]
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Emin Gun Sirer

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May 25, 2023


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