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Blockchain Technology

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 provides a wide overview of many of the topics relating to and building upon the foundation of Bitcoin and blockchain technology.

The course covers many key topics in the blockchain space. First, we take a look at distributed systems and alternative consensus mechanisms, as well as cryptoeconomic and proof-of-stake. We then move on to the fundamental applications of bitcoin and blockchain technology, including exploring enterprise blockchain implementations (JP Morgan’s Quorum, Ripple, Tendermint, and HyperLedger), the challenges and solutions around scaling blockchain adoption, and the measures that the government is taking to regulate and control blockchain technology. We wrap up the course by also taking a look at the various blockchain ventures today and conclude with a blockchain-based future thought experiment.

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 Blockchain. This course will help you begin to develop the critical skills needed to future-proof your career.

This is the second course in the Blockchain Fundamentals Professional Certificate program.

Syllabus

Distributed Systems and Alternative Consensus

Blockchain architecture is built on the foundation of decades of computer science and distributed systems literature. We start out by providing a formal definition of distributed consensus and presenting foundational theoretical computer science topics such as the CAP Theorem and the Byzantine Generals Problem. We then explore alternative consensus mechanisms to Bitcoin’s Proof-of-work, including Proof-of-Stake, voting-based consensus algorithms, and federated consensus.

Cryptoeconomics and Proof-of-Stake

We examine the meaning and properties of cryptoeconomics as it relates to its two compositional fields: cryptography and economics. We then look at the goals of cryptoeconomics with respect to distributed systems fundamentals (liveness, safety, data availability) and the griefing factors and faults in the way of these goals.

Enterprise Blockchain: Real-World Applications

We look at various existing enterprise-level blockchain implementations, such as JP Morgan’s Quorum, Ripple, Tendermint, and HyperLedger. We also explore business and industry use cases for blockchain, ICOs, and the increasing regulations surrounding blockchain.

Scaling Blockchain: Cryptocurrencies for the Masses

One major obstacle to widespread blockchain adoption is the problem of scalability. We define scaling first as it relates to Bitcoin as a payment method, and compare it to more traditional forms of payment such as credit cards. We then consider the general blockchain scalability debate and look into some of the solutions that have been proposed for vertical scaling (e.g. blocksize increases, Segregated Witness, and the Lightning Network), as well as horizontal scaling (e.g. sidechains, sharding).

Regulation and Anonymity

We look into the measures that governments have taken to regulate and control blockchain technology.  We examine Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations, anonymity goals, and government techniques for deanonymization of entities on blockchain. Then from the user’s perspective, we also dive into privacy oriented altcoins and mixing techniques.

A Blockchain-Powered Future

A summary of the course and an exploratory look into blockchain ventures today, such as venture capitalism, ICOs, and crowdfunding. We conclude with a blockchain-based future thought experiment.

Taught by

Rustie Lin and Mengyi (Gloria) Wang

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