Bitcoin and Blockchain Technology

Please refer to the page dedicated to your university, if available above.

These courses are for the students of those universities; anyone else, please consider https://dgi.io/workshop.

Learning objectives

The course is about bitcoin and the associated blockchain technology.

Starting from a computationally focused approach to elliptic curves over finite fields and presenting the discrete logarithm problem as cornerstone of public-key cryptography, bitcoin is introduced as ingenious breakthrough innovation.

Its game theory, computer science (distributed systems, distributed consensus), and monetary theory elements are examined in the attempt to properly convey the interdisciplinarity of the topic and appreciate its relevance.

Technical and programming elements about digital signatures, blockchain, Merkle tree, addresses, transactions, and timestamping are also provided to assess features and limits of the Bitcoin protocol.

Prerequisites

There are no strict prerequisites, even if a computer science mindset and some familiarity with algebra and finance might help to appreciate the course. While a rigorous formal approach is almost impossible in a course touching on so many and so different knowledge areas, intellectual curiosity is stimulated about the interplay between maths, cryptography, economic incentives, technology, monetary theory, and politics.

Contents

  • Cash, Electronic Money, Central Bank Money, eCash
  • Internet Money
  • Bitcoin Transactions
  • About Money
  • Private Money and the Centralization Dilemma
  • The Double Spending Problem
  • Bitcoin as Digital Gold
  • Bitcoin as Investment Asset
  • Bitcoin Financial Services
  • Discrete Logarithm Problem on Finite Cyclic Groups
  • Modular Arithmetic
  • Finite Fields
  • Elliptic Curves Over Real Numbers
  • DLP on Elliptic Curves Over Finite Fields
  • Hash Functions
  • Partial Hash Inversion
  • Hash Pointer Data Structures: Blockchain and Merkle Tree
  • Design of A Simplified Digital Currency
  • Distributed Consensus
  • Mining
  • P2P Network
  • Protocol Governance
  • Elliptic curve digital signature algorithm
  • Elliptic curve Schnorr signature algorithm: Mu(lti)Sig(nature), threshold signature, batch verification
  • Addresses and WIFs
  • Hierarchical deterministic wallets: BIP32, BIP43, BIP44
  • Mnemonic phrase: BIP39 and Electrum
  • TxIns, TxOs, UTxO, nLockTime
  • Bitcoin script language
  • Transactions
  • Blocks
  • Wallets and Bitcoin Core
  • Testnet, regtest, and wallet workshop
  • Money and innovation: monetary and token engineering
  • Hayek money and dual asset ledger money
  • Blockchain beyond bitcoin
  • Finance and blockchain
  • Timestamping, notarization, and anchoring
  • Smart contracts
  • Distributed ledger technology

Teaching method

  • Slide based lessons with associated bibliography
  • Python 3 programming assignments and technology assignments
  • Workshop labs on Bitcoin Core, Electrum, and OpenTimestamps

Teaching language

Italian or English, the latter if foreign students are present.

Lessons

Assistant lecturer: Paolo Mazzocchi.

  1. Bitcoin as Digital Gold
    slides
  2. Discrete Logarithm Problem on Finite Fields and Elliptic Curves
    slides
  3. Hash Functions
    slides
    Blockchain, Mining, and Distributed Consensus
    slides
  4. Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm
    slides
  5. Addresses, WIFs, and Bitcoin Message Signing
    slides
  6. Transactions and Scripts
    slides
  7. Beyond Bitcoin: Between Hype and Reality
    slides
  8. Wallets and Deterministic Key Chains
    slides
  9. Schnorr Signature Algorithm
    Optimization of The Elliptic Curve Scalar Multiplication
    slides
  10. The Frontier of Monetary Engineering
    slides
    Bitcoin: oro digitale per nuovi standard monetari
    Hayek Money: The Cryptocurrency Price Stability Solution

Python library

https://btclib.org
https://github.com/btclib-org/btclib

Python scripts, Excel spreadsheets, and regtest lab material

http://github.com/btclib-org/bbt

Introductory reading

Technology references

Cryptography references

Monetary theory references