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Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies

University of California, Berkeley via edX

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Overview

Developed by Blockchain at Berkeley and faculty from UC Berkeley's premier Computer Science department, this course presents Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies as the motivation for blockchain technologies, and provides a comprehensive and in-depth overview of the fundamental concepts of the crypto space with a particular emphasis on Bitcoin.

The course covers basic properties of bitcoin, the mechanics behind it (e.g. including cryptographic hash functions, Bitcoin Script, privacy, and hash commitment schemes) and its roots in the Cypherpunk movement and Libertarian ideals. You'll learn about practical applications of Bitcoin such as wallets and mining, as well as how to destroy bitcoins, including network attacks and malicious mining strategies. We will also take a brief look at Ethereum and how blockchain can be used outside of cryptocurrencies.

This course is open to anyone with any background. Whether you are planning your next career move as a blockchain developer, crypto trader, data analyst, researcher, or consultant, or are just looking for an introduction to the Bitcoin technology. This course will help you to begin developing the critical skills needed to future-proof your career.

This course is part of the Blockchain Fundamentals Professional Certificate program.  If you are planning to enroll in the entire series, we suggest starting with this course and then progressing on to CS198.2x Blockchain Technology.

Syllabus

Bitcoin Protocol & Consensus: A High Level Overview

We begin with some fundamental concepts such as the basic properties and intent of centralized/decentralized currency. We then build an in-depth understanding of Bitcoin from the ground up, divided into four stages: Identity, Transactions, Record Keeping, and Consensus.

Blockchain History: From the Cypherpunk Movement to JP Morgan Chase

This module delves into the origins and historical significance of Bitcoin. We look into the roots of Bitcoin in the Cypherpunk movement and Libertarian ideals, and examine the revolutionary significance of Bitcoin as opposed to some of its early predecessors. We then move onto exploring the history of the crypto space as a whole.

Bitcoin Mechanics & Optimizations: A Technical Overview

We examine the in-depth mechanics behind Bitcoin, such as the Bitcoin network, cryptography and cryptographic hash functions, Bitcoin Script, privacy, and hash commitment schemes.

Bitcoin In Real Life: Wallets, Mining, and More

We examine the most frequently used real world aspects of Bitcoin, such as wallets, wallet mechanics, mining, transactions, and Bitcoin governance. We explain the various ways one can interface with the Bitcoin network, depending on the specific software they run.

Game Theory & Network Attacks: How to Destroy Bitcoin

We look into how to destroy Bitcoin, including various network attacks. Specifically, we look into vulnerabilities such as pool cannibalization, double spending and forking attacks, network attacks, the Goldfinger attack, malicious mining profit strategies, and 51% attacks.

Ethereum & Smart Contracts: Enabling a Decentralized Future

This module focuses on the properties behind the second largest blockchain platform, Ethereum. We introduce the Ethereum Virtual Machine and the idea of Turing completeness, and examine some of the key protocol differences between Bitcoin and Ethereum, such as the UTXO vs. accounts model and functionality. We then look into some of the use cases of Ethereum, and conclude with an overview of smart contracts and building decentralized applications. Having spent the last modules primarily on cryptocurrencies, this module encourages students to think about blockchain use cases outside of cryptocurrency.

Taught by

Rustie Lin and Mengyi (Gloria) Wang

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