Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies

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There’s a lot of excitement about Bitcoin, but also a lot of confusion about what Bitcoin is and how it works. We’re offering this course focusing on the computer science behind Bitcoin to help cut through the hype and get to the core of what makes Bitcoin unique.


About the Course

To really understand what is special about Bitcoin, we need to understand how it works at a technical level. We’ll address the important questions about Bitcoin, such as:

How does Bitcoin work? What makes Bitcoin different? How secure are your Bitcoins? How anonymous are Bitcoin users? What determines the price of Bitcoins? Can cryptocurrencies be regulated? What might the future hold?

After this course, you’ll know everything you need to be able to separate fact from fiction when reading claims about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. You’ll have the conceptual foundations you need to engineer secure software that interacts with the Bitcoin network. And you’ll be able to integrate ideas from Bitcoin in your own projects.

Course Lecturers:
Arvind Narayanan, Princeton University 
Joseph Bonneau, Princeton University 
Edward Felten, Princeton University 
Andrew Miller, University of Maryland

Supplementary materials:

For the textbook, see below under Suggested Readings. For programming assignments, see here once enrolled.


Course Syllabus

The course consists twelve topics, each corresponding to a lecture, and a chapter in our textbook. Most weeks will have two topics each.

  1. Intro to Crypto and Cryptocurrencies
  2. How Bitcoin Achieves Decentralization
  3. Mechanics of Bitcoin
  4. How to Store and Use Bitcoins
  5. Bitcoin mining
  6. Bitcoin and anonymity
  7. Community, Politics, and Regulation
  8. Alternative Mining Puzzles
  9. Bitcoin as a platform
  10. Altcoins and the Cryptocurrency Ecosystem
  11. The future of Bitcoin? 
  12. [Bonus lecture] History of cryptocurrencies



Recommended Background

An introductory computer science class (such as CS 101) is required. 

Basic programming experience as well as some knowledge of data structures and algorithms (linked lists, sorting, searching...) are strongly recommended.



Suggested Readings

There is no required reading for this class.

We are publishing a textbook based on this course. A pre-publication draft is currently available (each chapter corresponds to a lecture).

Download a draft of the Princeton Bitcoin textbook.Princeton University Press is publishing the official, polished, and professionally done version of this book. It will be out in summer 2016. If you’d like to be notified when it comes out, you should sign up here.


Course Format

The class will consist of lecture videos broken up into 5-7 segments, each 10-15 minutes in length. Each segment contains 1 or 2 integrated quiz questions. 

There will also be standalone homeworks that are not part of video lectures.


Plan Name Price
3 Months: Free


James Miller

James Miller is the CEO of a processor company that has been in business for less than 10 years already. He used to have a start up business but switched to running an MSP company instead.