Variations of blockchain technology have existed for decades, but the recent hype is the result of a new kind of blockchain, one that distributes the responsibility of verifying transactions and thereby making it more secure, transparent, and enduring. This course will teach you to understand the differences between the blockchain technology of today and the former, less accessible and less transparent blockchains of decades past. You will dig into the mechanics of the [newer] Bitcoin blockchain protocol and how it ensures the longevity of a decentralized public ledger as well as how it gets consensus for approving transactions. With that knowledge you will then work to analyze what problem(s) blockchain technology aims to solve, how it solves them, and how to make sense of the promises that developers of new blockchain protocols make.
You will analyze a sample protocol to determine why the protocol might not satisfy the key properties that make a “good” blockchain secure. You will be better prepared to critically analyze all the endless new cryptocurrencies that emerge and the underlying blockchain technology that they operate on. You will outline several industries and business purposes for which the blockchains of today make sense. You will solve a computational puzzle in Excel to better understand how transactions get verified in the Bitcoin blockchain protocol. In the course project, you will design a theoretical blockchain for a company, outlining advantages and disadvantages of the properties you will think the blockchain should have based on the unique aspects of your business.The courses Cryptocurrencies and Ledgers and Cryptography Essentials are required to be completed prior to starting this course.
Faculty AuthorRafael Pass
Benefits to the Learner
- Know what properties a public ledger must have in order to be useful for financial applications
- Understand the differences between the permissionless blockchains of today and former permissioned blockchains of decades past
- Know how the Bitcoin blockchain protocol ensures the longevity of a decentralized public ledger
- Analyze the opportunities and challenges of a permissionless blockchain
- Business leaders
- Technology leaders, including CTOs
- Developers and software engineers interested in learning blockchain fundamentals
- Anyone seeking to develop a greater understanding of blockchain and cryptocurrency