December 18, 2017

Sign up now for the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency technologies online course

At Princeton I taught a course on Bitcoin and cryptocurrency technologies during the semester that just ended. Joe Bonneau unofficially co-taught it with me. Based on student feedback and what we accomplished in the course, it was extremely successful. Next week I’ll post videos of all the final project presentations.

The course was based on a series of video lectures. We’re now offering these lectures free to the public, online, together with homeworks, programming assignments, and a textbook. We’ve heard from computer science students at various institutions as well as the Bitcoin community about the need for structured educational materials, and we’re excited to fill this need.

We’re using Piazza as our platform. Here’s the course page. To sign up, please fill out this (very short) form.

The first several book chapters are already available. The course starts February 16, and we’ll start making the videos available closer to that date (you’ll need to sign up to watch the videos Edit: we’ve changed this policy; the lectures are also publicly available). Each week there will be a Google hangout with that week’s lecturer. We’ll also answer questions on Piazza.

How does our textbook (and course) differ from other books on Bitcoin? It’s simple: this is unabashedly a computer science text and course. We connect the ideas we discuss to the rest of computer science, and separate fundamental concepts from implementation details. The hype in the Bitcoin community has sometimes gotten ahead of the technology, and we think that for cryptocurrencies to truly realize their potential, entrepreneurs must go back to the basics, rigorously understand the technology, and build on it.

Sign up now!

Special thanks to students Steven Goldfeder, Shivam Agarwal, Pranav Gokhale, Alex Iriza and Hannah Park for helping develop educational materials for the course.

Comments

  1. Hi. Will you please send me the price of the course or if it´s free.

    Thanks.

  2. MacLane Wilkison says:

    This looks awesome, I’m signing up! Arvind, a group of us in silicon valley started http://www.blockchainu.co/ which you might find interesting.

  3. This looks outstanding. I am all in. Thank you for creating this and offering it.

  4. My husband and I are looking forward to it. Thank you for making your class available. Peace.

  5. Does this class require a programming background?

  6. will the course material and lectures be made freely available without the need for registration?

    • The book chapters, yes. The videos, not sure yet.

      Either way, I’d recommend registering — it’s free, very straightforward, and allows you to participate in the Q&A and have your questions answered.

  7. Hi, the course sounds very interesting. What are the pre-reqs for this course? I checked the link on this page and downloaded the chapters but did not see info about pre-reqs. Thanks!

  8. Eric Hellman says:

    Will the textbook have a free license?

  9. Neal Palmquist says:

    Does the course address why, if the very first bitcoin was infinitely divisible, it was not carried straight to the end game at that time instead of waiting for decades to get to that point?

    As bitcoins are created from nothingness and as the mathematical representation for nothing is a zero, then how does math demonstrate that twenty one million copies of the very first infinitely divisible bitcoin creates rarity and value that it did not already supposedly have?

    Are there any people in Princeton’s math department who can show how mining is creating new infinitely divisible bitcoins and not effectively diluting the very first bitcoin by fracturing it into tiny pieces? How does anything work when you multiply it tens of millions of times and then divide the sum by infinity? Don’t the practice of mining and the property of infinite divisibility work in opposition to each other?

    I’m sure the chemistry department will agree that once you divide a gold atom, it is no longer considered to be gold. But you can divide nothingness, zero and bitcoins forever as many times as you want to and those things never lose their properties. Bitcoin is infinitely divisible because it was, in fact, created from thin air in a universe that was already known to be infinitely empty. How is mining to create more bitcoins not a ponzi scheme that takes money from innocent people?

    • Neal Palmquist says:

      Yes, I see I said sum and that’s addition, not multiplication.

    • Ellie Kesselman says:

      You already know the answer to the question, and so do I.

      More seriously, I see the value in Bitcoins being the electricity and CPU cycles used to mine them. If I were to try to implicitly value an option’s volatility versus the “real” market value, that’s where I’d start. I’d do the same, as a starting point, with Bitcoin.

    • For one thing, bitcoins are not infinitely divisible. There is a minimum amount that can be transferred.

      • Milly Bitcoin says:

        This guy has posted variations of this comments tens or hundreds of times in different comment sections. The discussion starts out with people being concerned that 21 million is too small of a number and the world will quickly “run out” of bitcoins. The first response is usually that there are 8 decimal digits and you can add more decimals. They sometimes say Bitcoin is “infinitely divisible” because you can theoretically add as many as you want. Since then Mr. Palmquist posts the formula (21million/infinity) * 0 = Bitcoin and he goes on from there about it being “air” and a “Ponzi.”

        Adding decimal digits is a consensus-breaking change and I believe a Bitcoin network hard fork would be needed to add decimals. A hard fork in the Bitcoin network means everyone has to upgrade in order to be compatible.

        I think the 21 million limit was the biggest miscalculation in the Bitcoin development. The number one question from the public by far is confusion over buying fractional bitcoins.

  10. It’s been two days since I submitted the form but I haven’t received the mail yet. can you help me?

  11. Same here, I’ve submitted the form a while ago but never got the email