Funding Request: Peer-Reviewed Academic Research on UMA

Name of Project: Use cases for optimistic oracles in Web3: A Case Study of UMA

Proposer: `Justin Goldston, PhD

Proposal Summary: The goal of this peer-reviewed academic case study is to raise awareness of optimistic oracles and to bring more users and developers into the UMA ecosystem and the Web3 space.

Project Description: To introduce Web2 developers and natives into the Web3 space, the team is looking to conduct a peer-reviewed academic journal article on Optimistic Oracles using UMA in a case study approach. As students and researchers are becoming increasingly interested in blockchain and Web3, given the events that occurred in 2021 and 2022, developers are increasingly needed across all ecosystems. This study will not only provide insight into the tooling that powers Web3, but it will also introduce UMA to a pool of developers to further build out solutions for the ecosystem. In this study, we will look at the current uses for Optimistic Oracles, such as for synthetic assets, swaps, derivatives, and for bridges, such as Across. We will also look at future state solutions for Optimistic Oracles in industries such as law, supply chain, insurance, and healthcare organizations participating in Decentralized Science (DeSci).

We will begin this study by conducting a literature review of the current academic research on oracles, including interviews done by Hart Lambur and Clayton Roche. We will also review Medium articles written by Hart Lambur and the UMA team to provide practical insight into Optimistic Oracles. Once the literature review has been completed, we will provide a conceptual view of how UMA could onboard Web2 users and organizations into the ecosystem. Finally, based on our findings, we will include a section for further research to encourage other academics to assess use cases where Optimistic Oracles could be applied.

As we deliver blockchain and Web3 workshops at a number of institutions, students from various programs attend our events. During these events, we purposely pair Computer Science students with students from other programs, such as Business, Law, Supply Chain, Accounting, etc., so they can brainstorm about use cases where the protocols we are discussing can be applied. The same exercise can be done with UMA, where we could deliver an Ethereum workshop and include a section for Optimistic Oracles, and students from other programs could work with Computer Science students to propose solutions.

Value Add: As the team looks to disseminate the results of the study at a number of institutions, we will be exposing the UMA ecosystem to major sources of developers at these colleges and universities. From our experience in delivering blockchain and Web3 sessions in the past, students are willing to share their GitHub profiles in order for us to share them with potential employers - the protocols and projects such as UMA. This would be a great opportunity for this project as students are curious about the tooling that will power Web3.

Deliverables:
Milestone 1
Objective: Understand the current state of OO use within the UMA ecosystem and across partners such as Polymarket, Across, and the Boba Network through interviews with devs and users.
Deliverables: A literature review draft and the study instrument that will be used to survey the subject matter experts within the study.

Milestone 2
Objective: We look to answer the following research questions:
RQ1: Can new frameworks be implemented around the dispute process for UMA’s solution?

RQ2: Is the $UMA token distribution hurting the effectiveness of the oracle?
This will be done using a modified Delphi approach that will be composed of three rounds of surveys to understand if a consensus can be reached among the group of subject matter experts on the two research questions.

Deliverable: The results of the survey and the output of the results using SurveyMonkey. The goal is to have the output lead to proposals that can be implemented within the UMA ecosystem.

Milestone 3
Objective: Add the results of the survey to the academic journal article.
Deliverable: A peer-reviewed academic journal article outlining the study conducted with the UMA ecosystem and the results.

Total Budget Requested: The proposed about is 18,150 USDC or the equivalent in UMA tokens. Please see the budget outline at the lnk below UMA Budget V1.0.xlsx - Google Sheets
Address: 0x717cE4F9A743abecD4D5aE9b6a44b223fF952128

Team
The project team members are as follows:

Dr. Justin Goldston - Justin Goldston is a Professor at Penn State University, as well as a Visiting Professor and Graduate Advisory Board Member at Georgetown University and the University of Southern California. His research is focused on blockchain, social impact, and the metaverse, and is a five-time TEDx speaker on blockchain. Please see some of his journal articles in the next section.

Dr. Anoop V.S. - Dr. Anoop is a Professor and Senior Scientist in India, where his focus is on blockchain and artificial intelligence. As the author and co-author of many highly-cited academic journal articles focused on emerging technologies, his research experience is invaluable to the team and this project.

Tomer Jordi Chaffer - Jordi is a graduate researcher at McGill University in Canada and is also the co-author of The Metaverse as the Digital Leviathan: A Case Study of Bit.Country (in the next section). As an international speaker on blockchain, Jordi’s research is focused on blockchain within the healthcare sector.

George Martinez - George Martinez is a doctoral candidate at the University of the Cumberlands, where he is studying Blockchain and International Business. As the co-author of The Metaverse as the Digital Leviathan: A Case Study of Bit.Country, George brings over 20 years of practical experience in the Computer Science field to the inclusion of Ethereum within the industry.

Relevant past publications from the project team

This is the link to Goldston’s Anoop’s book published by Taylor and Francis entitled “Blockchain for Industry 4.0: Emergence, Challenges and Opportunities” Blockchain for Industry 4.0: Blockchain for Industry 4.0: Emergence … - Google Books

This is the first peer-reviewed academic case study on soulbound tokens written by Justin Goldston and Jordi Chaffer. - View of On the Existential Basis of Self-Sovereign Identity and Soulbound Tokens: An Examination of the “Self” in the Age of Web3

This is the first peer-reviewed academic case study on the metaverse written by Justin Goldston, Jordi Chaffer, and George Martinez. - BitCountryCase.pdf - Google Drive

This is the first peer-reviewed academic case study on hybrid finance (HyFi) written by Justin Goldston and Anoop V.S. - AcalaCase.pdf - Google Drive

This is the Google Scholar profile for Justin Goldston - Justin L Goldston, PhD - Google Scholar

This is the Google Scholar profile of Jordi Chaffer. - Tomer Jordi Chaffer - Google Scholar

This is the Google Scholar profile for Anoop V.S. - Dr. Anoop V. S. - Google Scholar

LinkedIn Profiles:

Justin Goldston: https://www.linkedin.com/in/justin-goldston/
Anoop V.S., PhD: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anoopacademia/
Tomer Jordi Chaffer: https://ca.linkedin.com/in/jordichaffer
George Martinez: https://www.linkedin.com/in/georgeamartinez/

Additional Information

Previous communications with the UMA team.

Questions from Clayton in Dec. 2022

Clayton

Admin

Dec '22

It’s like you knew exactly what I wanted for Christmas!

there are only two academic studies that mention optimistic oracles and hope that this research study fills that gap while also highlighting the UMA ecosystem.

Could you provide a quick summary? Are they relevant?

I’m curious what your thesis will be, other than with the goal of raising awareness. Is it the general thesis that OO’s are important? I think that’s valuable, for sure.

And perhaps this would go too deep, too fast, but I think that the actual product of UMA needs some R&D around its dispute process. We have had a number of disputes that arise due to ambiguity around natural language. Users of the Polymarket have walked away dissatisfied with the opacity and seeming arbitrariness of resolutions in cases where there is ambiguity.

Why is this happening? And what framework could you propose, after researching historical disputes, as well as related research in crowd wisdom and prediction markets, to help users predict exactly how a case with revealed ambiguity would resolve?

Another valuable insight would be to answer the question: Is the $UMA token distribution hurting the effectiveness of the oracle? If so, what do you propose?

I think a great next step might be for us to do a community AMA on this, where you could talk about what you’re interested in working on here and what the community thinks. My DMs are open on Twitter if you’re willing to arrange such an event!

Response to Clayton

Clayton,

Thank you for your response. Please see my responses below:

There are only two academic studies that mention optimistic oracles and hope that this research study fills that gap while also highlighting the UMA ecosystem.

Could you provide a quick summary? Are they relevant?

Below are the two studies.

Caldarelli, G., & Ellul, J. (2021). The blockchain oracle problem in decentralized finance—A multivocal approach. Applied Sciences, 11(16), 7572.

Rahman, A., Shi, V., Ding, M., & Choi, E. (2022). Systematization of Knowledge: Synthetic Assets, Derivatives, and On-Chain Portfolio Management. arXiv preprint arXiv:2209.09958.

Rahman et al. compare UMA’s oracles with Chainlink’s oracles in their study on synthetic assets in DeFi.

Caldarelli and Ellul mention UMA’s OO and the Data Verification Mechanism (DVM), and compares UMA to Tellor and Razor. This study will prompt us to dig into those projects to understand their dispute process.

I’m curious what your thesis will be, other than with the goal of raising awareness. Is it the general thesis that OO’s are important? I think that’s valuable, for sure.

It initially was a general thesis, but based on the issues you raised below, the general thesis will become the literature review, and we will form research questions as follows:

*Proposed before the AMA

RQ1: Can new frameworks be implemented around the dispute process for UMA’s solution?

RQ2: Is the $UMA token distribution hurting the effectiveness of the oracle?

And perhaps this would go too deep, too fast, but I think that the actual product of UMA needs some R&D around its dispute process. We have had a number of disputes that arise due to ambiguity around natural language. Users of the Polymarket have walked away dissatisfied with the opacity and seeming arbitrariness of resolutions in cases where there is ambiguity. Why is this happening? And what framework could you propose, after researching historical disputes, as well as related research in crowd wisdom and prediction markets, to help users predict exactly how a case with revealed ambiguity would resolve?

The methodology will be a modified Delphi approach which is where we survey a panel of experts with questions centered around the two research questions above in hopes that we reach a consensus on the next steps. I foresee the panel of experts being Requestors, Proposers, and Disputers within the UMA and the participants we can find in the Polymarket ecosystem. I performed a modified Delphi approach for my doctoral dissertation, and it works well as the survey participants want to know the answers to the questions as well.

With this approach, not only will we raise the awareness of UMA and OOs, but the output of this study will hopefully be a proposal for the community to vote to implement the proposed solutions.

These are my initial thoughts, but I would first like to conduct interviews with the community to better understand why they think this happens. From there, we will review other projects, such as Tellor, Razor, and Chainlink, to see if there are processes that could be included in our survey.

In initial research on disputes, many have noted that disputes don’t happen often. Do you know how many disputes occurred in 2022?

Another valuable insight would be to answer the question: Is the $UMA token distribution hurting the effectiveness of the oracle? If so, what do you propose?

We formed this as a research question and would gain insight from the community to get input in forming the survey questions.

I hope my responses answer your questions, and I sent you over my information via Twitter.

Question from Alex in December

This is a very interesting application! For the 3 milestones referenced in the spreadsheet, would it be possible to provide details regarding objectives and deliverables associated with each milestone?

Response to Alex

Alex,

Thank you for your response. Please see the objectives and deliverables for each milestone below. I also updated the spreadsheet.

Milestone 1
Objective: Understand the current state of OO use within the UMA ecosystem and across partners such as Polymarket, Across, and the Boba Network through interviews with devs and users.

Deliverables: A literature review draft and the study instrument that will be used to survey the subject matter experts within the study.

Milestone 2
Objective: We look to answer the following research questions:

RQ1: Can new frameworks be implemented around the dispute process for UMA’s solution?

RQ2: Is the $UMA token distribution hurting the effectiveness of the oracle?

This will be done using a modified Delphi approach that will be composed of three rounds of surveys to understand if a consensus can be reached among the group of subject matter experts on the two research questions.

Deliverable: The results of the survey and the output of the results using SurveyMonkey. The goal is to have the output lead to proposals that can be implemented within the UMA ecosystem.

Milestone 3
Objective: Add the results of the survey to the academic journal article.

Deliverable: A peer-reviewed academic journal article outlining the study conducted with the UMA ecosystem and the results.