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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.

A Princeton University online course called “Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies” will be offered via online education platform Coursera beginning in September.

The Princeton Bitcoin course will last six weeks, with the last lecture on Nov. 1.

“To really understand what is special about Bitcoin, we need to understand how it works at a technical level,” says the Coursera website class description. “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.”

The instructors are Edward Felton, Arvind Narayanan, and Joseph Bonneau from Princeton University, and Andrew Miller from the University of Maryland. The class textbook will be published by the Princeton University Press.

A preliminary version of the course has been publicly available on the Piazza online platform since January, and includes 11 video lectures, lecture notes, and exercises. The Coursera version of the class includes new lectures, quizzes, and a broader community of students. More than 15,000 students have signed up for the online class.

The professors have described the class as a computer science course that emphasizes technology.

“The hype in the Bitcoin community has sometimes gotten ahead of the technology, and we think that for cryptocurrencies to truly realize their potential, entrepreneurs must go back to the basics, rigorously understand the technology and build on it,” Narayanan said in an announcement about the course early this year.

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