My name is Jamie E. Young. This is not my real name. This is my story.
I never got accustomed to staying in one place too long. I was raised in a family where my parents (an academic and an engineer) moved us (me and siblings) periodically across our childhoods. Amid this, one fortunate constant in my life was the beauty of technical academic subjects which I fell in love with in school since age 5. The mathematics, the sciences, and other technical subjects never ceased to keep me excited, in a time when other things seemed less permanent.
Fast forward a few decades. I had embarked on an academic journey - the life of the mind. I shared in the joy of discussing intellectual ideas with my academic peers - college mathematics classmates, which became PhD friends, and as of late fellow professors and researchers. I've built what my peers may consider a promising start to a stable academic career, which has led to where I am now as a professor in a STEM field at a small college in the US. (No, it is not a fancy top 20 US research university).
This year, 2020, the Coronavirus pandemic struck parts of the USA hard - inculding my university community, disrupting my academic routine I had built up. With my sabbatical upcoming soon, I had planned on using my saved-up time to dive head-first into a backlog of project ideas. Instead, I streamed Netflix shows, gorged on snacks, and procrastinated by wandering the side streets of the internet when I could no longer do real analysis over a cup of joe at my favorite cafe. One day, in my procrastination stupor and apocalypse mindset, I stumbled upon an online wormhole to another universe. A universe, where I found my intellectual ideas could collide with a furious flurry of invention, experimentation and urgency.
This universe is Crypto, which I began following in 2015 (buying my first bitcoin, ethereum, and altcoins). In 2020 I've become reacquainted with crypto as I learned more about its latest evolving subspace DeFi (Decentralized Finance). Here, gathering online, in the middle of the global pandemic, is an internet party of distributed individuals all across the globe, spanning creed and training, exploring open challenges about how decentralized markets of the next generation should work: AMMs, synthetic assets, bonding curves, flash loans, auction theory, composability, token economics, DAO governance, mechanism design. I was curious and energized by what I first saw - prompting me to dive head-first in, following online discussions on Twitter, hearing about users reacting to the new inventions they saw in DeFi. After perusing my first few whitepapers in this space, I recognized the rife potential for leveraging my open problem solving mind in mathematics and technical subjects. Here is a place, where even a professor can join in on the fun, and try their hand at making something useful, without the red tape dictated by the ivory tower.During this time of upheaval in my personal life, I realized that Crypto and DeFi match my three criteria for areas of meaningful study to me. It must be above all:
Just perhaps, my lifelong interest in mathematics and other technical subjects, has finally met a match. Just one constant could change the flow of a billion dollars, just one line of errant code could wipe out the entire bankroll of a participant. Never could I have imagined that my intellectual ideas could find a space where they exert this kind of leverage and usefulness. I am embarking down this path in earnest, with the kind help of others, keeping this pursuit separate from my day job as a US college professor.
There they still are, making things up as they go along, building, and sometimes stumbling hard in the process.
It's a beautiful thing.
See you there soon.