We are delighted to welcome William Sanders as Director of Research for the IOTA Foundation. William, who often goes by Billy, joined IOTA in November 2018 as a research scientist. Since he joined, he has been instrumental in developing our Coordicide solution, and he has also been involved with virtually every aspect of pure DLT research undertaken within the IOTA Foundation.

Billy is taking over the role of Research Director from Serguei Popov, who will continue to serve on the Board of Directors and also as a researcher. This change in roles releases Serguei from some of the administrative tasks that, in his own words, “were never really [his] cup of tea.” Thus, this change in roles enables Serguei to focus his efforts on the work that has always been of greatest interest to him: the pure research that helps keep the IOTA protocol on the cutting edge.

Billy is a great fit for a managerial role and had in many ways naturally fallen into the role over the past couple of months. As he became involved in projects across the Foundation, Billy helped ensure that the Research Department’s work and the grant work funded by IOTA were well-aligned with the Foundation’s broader efforts. Billy’s enthusiastic attitude about all things IOTA make him a great team member for liaising with our other departmental directors and board members.

Billy’s background is in pure mathematics. At the University of Kansas, he studied Commutative Algebra, a building block of much of cryptography. He later completed a postdoc in Category Theory at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Category theory is a mathematical “theory of everything” which seeks to unify many disparate mathematical theories.

Since Serguei will still be with the department, and since Billy is already deeply involved in most research projects, the general course of the research department will not be dramatically affected by this leadership change.

On his new position, Billy says:

Taking a cue from my roots in category theory (a branch of mathematics), my research at IOTA has focused on developing a unified theory of DLTs. Indeed, DLTs lie at the intersection of several different well established fields, including networking, distributed systems, cryptography, probability theory, and economics. Most of the people who study DLTs typically do so from a vantage point anchored in one of those fields. I have been trying to take a holistic view towards DLTs, a viewpoint I will encourage within the IOTA Foundation.

As director, my first priority will be to finish the Coordicide project. With all the main research questions answered, our department's current focus is to finish writing the specifications and to complete the implementation of the IOTA 2.0 protocol on the Nectar testnet. With these projects moving toward completion this Spring, we can then begin working with the engineering department to implement the protocol into production ready code.

Meanwhile, the department will continue to validate Coordicide through further internal research, as well as collaboration with grantees and other external researchers. The testnet is producing lots of valuable information that needs to be properly analyzed, and we are currently in the process of doing so. Moreover, the IOTA Foundation has acquired many academic contacts over the last year. These relationships are beginning to mature and will begin producing high quality publications validating our protocol.

The IOTA Foundation and our research are in an excellent place right now, and it is an exciting time to move into this new role.

For all the latest from our Research team, feel free to visit the #tanglemath channel on our Discord. You are also welcome to follow and participate in our technical discussions on our public forum: IOTA.cafe. Follow Billy on Twitter!

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