I recently hired Jerome Simeon to lead the design and development of a legal smart contract language and runtime. I’m thrilled to introduce him in the interview below.
Today I am interviewing Clause Chief Scientist Jerome Simeon. Hello Jerome. Welcome!
You recently joined Clause as Chief Scientist, what attracted you to Clause?
Hi Dan, thank you! It’s great be part of the team. I was already looking at Blockchain and smart contracts as a research area. So when Peter, Houman and yourself talked to me about your work at Clause, I got really excited about the idea of defining a new language to capture the structure and logic of real-life contracts.
As a language and compiler person, finding a compeling business area that calls for designing a new language from scratch, and having the opportunity to grow a new community around that language, is the holy grail. When you add the exciting technical challenges involved in building a compiler for trusted backends and the chance to work with the already impressive team at Clause, I was sold.
Can you tell us a little about your research background and how it relates to your work at Clause?
Sure. I’ve worked for almost twenty years on domain specific languages (DSLs), programming languages, and compilers. My PhD research was on data integration which led me to work on XML languages for a while. Since then I have worked on rules languages, queries for NoSQL databases, and several DSLs targetting various application domains, such as BigData and Chatbots.
Besides my interest in language design, which is what attracted me to Clause in the first place, I am very interested in formal verification and automated theorem proving which is an area that has matured tremendously in the last ten years. One of the exciting challenges when working with contracts is how to capture the agreements between all parties and maintain the trust during contract execution. I believe we can apply modern verification techniques to capture contracts properties and to provide some guarantees that they execute faithfully in the Clause ecosystem.
Will you be participating in the Accord Project? Can we expect to see some Open Source contributions?
Absolutely! One of our goals is to define a DSL that can naturally capture the logic for contract templates from the Accord Project, so the synergy between the two is essential. I am looking forward making contributions to both the Accord Protocol specification and the open source effort.
A new language cannot grow in a vacuum, so as soon as we have an initial design and prototype for the DSL, our plan is to make it Open Source and get as many people as possible to try it. It will be exciting to get feedback and contributions from the Accord Project community.
What do you like to do when you aren’t doing research or programming?
I never have enough time for all the things I’m excited about! The one other interest I make a point to pursue is the piano; I play both chamber music and for the theatre.
Thank you. Best of luck in your exciting new job!