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August 14, 2020
Meet the Team: Tarak Ben Youssef on Cryptography and Emojis 👌
Meet the Team: Tarak Ben Youssef on Cryptography and Emojis 👌

Who are you?

Hi there, I’m Tarak, a cryptography engineer with Flow. I was born in sunny Tunisia, that’s the northernmost tip of Africa in case you’re wondering. That’s where I grew up and got hooked on soccer, math and algorithms. I studied in Sfax and then Sidi Bou Said (look it up, it’s beautiful) before starting a long journey abroad. A small hop to France first to study computer science and applied mathematics, and then a bigger hop to Singapore to finish my Masters.

Needless to say, my soccer career never took off. Instead, I focused my courses and internships on cryptography as it perfectly combined math and computer science. I spent a few years working within the Gemalto cryptography team in Singapore, covering several grey box and white box crypto topics applied to multiple embedded and mobile products.

My latest hop was across the pacific to land in Canada and join the Flow team in Vancouver. I’ve been helping the team solve Flow security and crypto puzzles for over a year.

What lured you into the world of blockchain?

As a cryptography engineer, I was constantly looking at industries and fields that require and use cryptography. Blockchain is obviously one of those. I didn’t take part in trading cryptocurrencies but I was interested in the technical problems decentralization needed to solve. I’ve always believed this technology has the potential to offer multiple applications beyond solely currency.

How did you get hooked on Flow?

There is no shortage of challenges when it comes to scaling a blockchain while preserving its security, and I wanted to join an innovative team that was willing to take on these challenges. I spoke to Dapper Labs in the very early days of Flow. The project looked ambitious back then, but the team seemed to understand the scalability challenge very well and had an innovative idea of how to tackle it.

My interview process included speaking to some of the most renowned cryptographers. I knew the Flow team was advised by the best in the space and was willing to learn from the existing research and chain projects. This convinced me to make the move from Singapore all the way to Vancouver and join this talented team.

What should I read next?

  • Kundera’s “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” is a classic. An addictive novel with deep philosophical reflections on life, decision making and love.
  • Frankopan’s “The Silk Roads”, if you’re into history, you’ll like this one. It reveals a different reality about the “east” and updates the western-centric understanding of the world, its past and present. 

What’s your most used emoji?

It’s definitely 👌 as it avoids using 👍, the most overused and unenthusiastic reaction of all emojis.
Is 👌 really cooler or much different? Probably not.. Am I taking 👍 too personally ? Probably yes.