Blockchains constitute a new way of combining well-known and experienced technologies for realizing innovative IT-based applications. Their core elements comprise the decentralized  storage of information, distributed consensus mechanisms, smart contracts, and digital signatures. Depending on their usage scenario blockchains may either be publicly accessible by everyone - as it is e.g. the case for Bitcoin and Ethereum - or run in permissioned environments where only users with according access rights can access and modify information. From a business and economic perspective, blockchains have the potential to replace intermediaries through an automated and trustworthy consensus mechanism, which does not require physical persons for deciding about the validity of transactions.

In our research group we approach blockchains from three perspectives:

  1. The business perspective for designing and evaluating new types of business models
  2. The technical perspective for further developing enterprise information systems
  3. The societal perspective for designing IT-based solutions that are accessible by non-technical users.

 In our research we are particularly interested in creating new IT-based applications using blockchain technologies that are useful for enterprises and end-users. For this purpose we are happy to engage in collaboration projects for identifying new ways of applying blockchains.


  • Blockchain Technologies

    The technologies used for realizing blockchains are well-established. The innovative character of blockchains stems primarily from their novel combination. Four technologies are essential:

    • Decentralized Information Storage
      Information contained in blockchains is not stored in one single place or with one organization but in many different places. In the case of public blockchains this means that everyone can store all information of a blockchain by him/herself. Decentralization leads to a secure storage of information that is independent from a particular party or organization.
    • Distributed Consensus Mechanisms
      For deciding which information that is to be stored on the blockchain is valid, so-called distributed consensus mechanisms are used. By using a non-spoofable lottery that automatically selects a random party from all blockchain participants, it can be avoided to establish a trustful intermediary. Rather, it is relied upon the most agreed branch of the blockchain together with proofs that cannot be forged by adversaries.
    • Digital Signatures
      The identification of information on a blockchain is ensured via digital signatures. These permit participants to authenticate themselves as owners of the stored information.
    • Smart Contracts
      For some types of blockchains it is possible to add so-called smart contracts. These are essentially algorithms that are stored on a blockchain and that can are automatically executed if certain conditions are met.
  • Collaboration Projects & Workshops

    The understanding and successful deployment of blockchains requires some technical knowledge together with an understanding of the resulting business implications. This makes it a central topic in business informatics research. We thus offer to enage in the following activities with our research group:

    • Introductory Workshops on Blockchains
      Based on our research and teaching activities we offer introductory workshops for understanding the technologies behind blockchains. If you are interested in hosting a workshop for your organization please contact us.
    • Collaboration Projects for Blockchain Applications
      The realization of new blockchain applications is a complex undertaking. We are thus engaging in fundamental and applied research projects for further developing blockchains together with partners from industry and practice.
  • Tools

    For the Knowledge Blockchain reasearch project, a prototype has been implemented based on the ADOxx meta-modeling platform with C++ DLL extensions for SHA-256 and ECDSA digital signatures using OpenSSL. The prototype allows for the creation of knowledge models and permission models with roles, according to which blocks can be created and maintained in a blockchain. Further information is available here.

    The Decentralized Process Modeling and Instance Tracking tool is a prototype for demonstrating a decentralized way of developing processes in information systems. Process models can be created collaboratively by multiple participants without central coordination, by securing their integrity using the Ethereum blockchain. Furthermore, full process models are versioned and managed through the Git DVCS, where commits are also integrity secured on Ethereum. Further information is available here.

  • Publications

    Recent publications by our group on blockchains

    • Fill, Hans-Georg (2019): Applying the Concept of Knowledge Blockchains to Ontologies, in: A. Martin, K. Hinkelmann, A. Gerber, D. Lenat, F. van Harmelen, P. Clark (Eds.), Proceedings of the AAAI 2019 Spring Symposium on Combining Machine Learning with Knowledge Engineering (AAAI-MAKE 2019). Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, USA PDF
    • Härer, Felix, Fill, Hans-Georg (2019): A Comparison of Approaches for Visualizing Blockchains and Smart Contracts, in: Jusletter IT Weblaw, 21 February 2019, ISSN: 1664-848X, DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.2585575
    • Fill, Hans-Georg, Härer, Felix (2018): Knowledge Blockchains: Applying Blockchain Technologies to Enterprise Modeling (nominated for Best Paper Award), HICSS'51, AIS, pp.4045-4054, DOI: 10.24251/HICSS.2018.509.
    • Härer, Felix (2018): Decentralized Process Modeling and Instance Tracking Secured by a Blockchain. In: Proceedings of the 26th European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS). Portsmouth, UK, June 23-28, 2018, DOI 10.5281/zenodo.2585717.