Research Scientist, ProbeLab

Protocol Labs

About Protocol Labs

Protocol Labs drives breakthroughs in computing to push humanity forward. Protocol Labs is a product-development lab, but behind the protocols and tools we build, behind the research and implementations, are passionate people, teammates, and community members. Most teams in the Protocol Labs Network are fully distributed and work remotely around the world. Engineers, researchers, and operators work in the open to improve the internet โ€” humanity's most important technology โ€” as we explore new advances at the intersection of many exciting fields (crypto, networks, distributed systems) and cultures (startups, research, open-source, distributed work).

We are seeking an experienced Research Scientist to lead the design and implementation of measurement and benchmarking methodologies, as well as the optimization of network protocols for decentralized, P2P systems.


ProbeLab is an effort to apply solid scientific measurement methodologies to benchmark and optimize network protocols that operate in decentralized P2P environments. ProbeLab was born out of the need for developing a deeper understanding of how permissionless, decentralized networks can be made more performant and comparable to their centralized counterparts.

ProbeLabโ€™s mission is summarized in the following quote:

โ€œYou canโ€™t improve what you donโ€™t measure, and you should measure what (you think) youโ€™ve just improved.โ€

However, measurement and benchmarking of networks and network protocols is not an end, but a means to an end, which is to use the findings to: i) identify bottlenecks, ii) quantify the available space for improvement, and iii) design protocol optimizations.

With those goals in mind, ProbeLab is putting its focus on one of the most widely used decentralized networks, IPFS and its supporting networking library, libp2p. We are building the IPFS Network Observatory!

A central part of IPFS is content addressing and a central part of libp2p is peer-to-peer networking. Although both of these topics have been the subject of extensive research in the past, few instances have seen actual deployment in the wild with hundreds of thousands of daily active nodes. This is what makes research at PL exciting: exploiting prior knowledge to solve real-world problems in a future-proof manner via close collaboration and short feedback loops between research and engineering teams.

Research Scientist at Protocol Labs

This isn't an ordinary Research Scientist position. We are driven by both a hunger to learn and a need to work toward solving important problems. Our research scientists are granted the freedom to develop their knowledge by working on novel applications and the responsibility to contribute those skills toward advancing the flagship projects supported by Protocol Labs. Youโ€™ll feel at home working with us if your knowledge and optimism enables you to name a few unusual possible approaches when youโ€™re first presented with a problem that people often consider intractable.

We understand that networks are more than the sum of their parts. We share a conviction that systems should be decentralized, in spite of inherent difficulties in doing so. We believe that the internet is as important as it is fragile and novel improvements in robustness, resource management and allocation efficiency, fault tolerance, consensus, security, performance, and availability are required to protect and improve it. We built libp2p because we thought IPFS should include a better way of sending data between peers. Now weโ€™re improving our libraries and expanding the scope. As Filecoin grows, we seek a specialist who can help make the networking stack on which it relies as efficient, robust, and secure as possible.

We seek researchers who can discover, conceive, incorporate, and implement novel distributed networks and decentralized systems. In particular, we start by measuring and benchmarking current protocol operation and configuration to identify bottlenecks and available space for improvement. Next, we survey related literature and production protocols and design optimizations to fill the performance gaps.

We value previous implementation and prototyping experience, so please highlight your background when applying and/or point to prototypes that you have built (or have helped build) in the past.

We also value previous experience with measurement, infrastructure and testing of networking protocols and the corresponding infrastructure components.

We believe in an Open Source and Open Collaboration approach to research, design and development. We collaborate with a lot of external teams of researchers as well as developers. We keep our egos checked at the door and work as a team to tackle hard research and engineering challenges.

As a Research Scientist at Protocol Labs/ProbeLab, you will...

  • Participate in cutting-edge research in computer networks, distributed and decentralized systems.
  • Lead methodology design and implementation for measuring and benchmarking networking protocols for decentralized systems.
  • Study, design and propose measurement methodologies to quantify the healthy operation of libp2p protocols for IPFS, Filecoin and other platforms.
  • Propose metrics that can help quantify the performance of networking processes and protocols.
  • Identify bottlenecks in protocol performance and propose improvements to libp2p, IPFS, Filecoin and other decentralized networking protocols.
  • Consider security and privacy issues when designing networking protocols.
  • Work with the development team on turning research into implementations.
  • Quantify performance, security, and other properties of existing and proposed systems; suggest improvements based on the data.
  • Lead collaborations with several research labs and be comfortable guiding their work towards a target in a timely manner.
  • Lead outreach activities by presenting our work at academic & developer conferences.
  • Contribute and potentially lead technical report and paper writing to document our work and our findings.
  • Work in a fully asynchronous and remote team.
  • Organize and attend high-intensity research and protocol design workshops.

You may be a fit for this role if you have....

  • MS or PhD degree in Computer Science, Electrical & Computer Engineering, or related field, or equivalent practical experience.
  • Industry experience in designing, building and evaluating networking protocols and infrastructure.
  • Programming experience and proficiency in more than one of the following: Go, Rust, JavaScript, C, C++, Haskell, OCaml.
  • Ability to analyze, criticize, and improve the design of complex computer network systems.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Experience contributing to research communities and/or efforts, including publishing conference papers.

Bonus Points

  • You have a record of demonstrating state-of-the-art innovation in distributed systems with a proven publication record or project history. (Potentially including but not limited to distributed data structures, novel network architectures and protocols, consensus protocols, peer-to-peer connectivity, distributed execution, distributed file systems, network optimization, graph traversals, and dynamic network analysis.)
  • Youโ€™re comfortable digging through new academic literature on graph theory or IETF RFCs for inspiration while problem-solving.
  • You believe that you donโ€™t really understand something until you can explain it to a six-year-old, and your experience mentoring or writing technical explainers or blog posts demonstrates that you enjoy testing your understanding against this metric.
  • Youโ€™ve demonstrated technical project management skills and the ability to design and execute on a research agenda.
  • You have experience setting up and managing research collaborations or contractors.


Whatโ€™s it like to work at Protocol Labs?
Protocol Labs' mission is to improve humanityโ€™s most important technology, the Internet. We build protocols, systems, and tools to improve how it works. Today, we are focused on how we store, locate, and move information. Our projects include IPFS, Filecoin, libp2p, and more.
As a distributed team, we hire anywhere in the world, and at various levels of experience (entry, senior, staff). We look for people with unique perspectives and diverse backgrounds.
We have a great benefits package, including parental leave, contributions to your retirement, competitive pay, and unlimited time off. For U.S.-based employees, we also provide platinum-level health, dental, and vision coverage for you and your family.

If youโ€™re passionate about the future of computing and a more democratized internet, we want to talk to you.

GDPR for Job Applicants and Candidates

When you apply to a job on this site, the personal data contained in your application will be collected by Protocol Labs, Inc. (โ€œProtocol Labsโ€), which is located at 427 N Tatnall St #51207, Wilmington, Delaware 19801 and can be contacted by emailing legalrequests[at] Protocol Labsโ€™ data protection team can be contacted via legalrequests[at] Your personal data will be processed for the purposes of managing Protocol Labsโ€™ recruitment related activities, which include setting up and conducting interviews and tests for applicants, evaluating and assessing the results thereto, and as is otherwise needed in the recruitment and hiring processes. Such processing is legally permissible under Art. 6(1)(f) of Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (General Data Protection Regulation) as necessary for the purposes of the legitimate interests pursued by Protocol Labs, which are the solicitation, evaluation, and selection of applicants for employment.

Your personal data will be shared with Greenhouse Software, Inc., a cloud services provider located in the United States of America and engaged by Protocol Labs to help manage its recruitment and hiring process on Protocol Labsโ€™ behalf. Accordingly, if you are located outside of the United States, your personal data will be transferred to the United States once you submit it through this site. Because the European Union Commission has determined that United States data privacy laws do not ensure an adequate level of protection for personal data collected from EU data subjects, the transfer will be subject to appropriate additional safeguards.

Your personal data will be retained by Protocol Labs as long as Protocol Labs determines it is necessary to evaluate your application for employment or to assist in the hiring process. Under the GDPR, you have the right to request access to your personal data, to request that your personal data be rectified or erased, and to request that processing of your personal data be restricted. You also have the right to data portability. In addition, you may lodge a complaint with an EU supervisory authority.

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