19-802-Carnegie Mellon University Africa - Carnegie Mellon University


Bitcoin and Cyptocurrencies

Course discipline: Security
Units: 6
Lecture/Lab/Rep hours/week: 2 hours lecture/week

Semester/year offered (fall/spring, even/odd/all years): Spring
Pre-requisites: None. All the basic cryptographic mechanisms will be presented in the class.

Course description:

What currency should modern commerce be based? Bitcoin has emerged as a distributed currency not tied to any national currency. Bitcoin is a collection of technologies that allow transactions to be recorded in a, so-called, block chain that is distributed and cryptographically secure. The Bitcoins can be stored and used via anonymous digital wallets. Maintaining and extending the Bitcoin block chain has become a money-making highly-competitive industry known as Bitcoin mining. Beyond Bitcoin, the block-chain technology is being considered by Banks and others as a distributed verifiable transaction ledger mechanism that could potentially disrupt current centralized mechanisms such as established trading markets.

Beyond the technology, Bitcoin raises many larger challenges. What creates Bitcoin’s inherent value? Anonymous digital money is an enabler for illicit trade in drugs, weapons, gambling, and crime. How can it be stopped? What kind of transactions can and cannot be supported by Bitcoin? Should there be more than one kind of Bitcoin? Who should regulate Bitcoins, if anyone? What is the future of Bitcoin mining? What is the future of Bitcoin?

Learning objectives:

This course enables students to be Bitcoin users and miners. Students will understand the underlying block-chain mechanism and how they can apply it to other domains. They will understand the future trends in Bitcoin from a business and policy perspective.  

Students’ assessment :

Students will be graded on homeworks, exams, and a final project. 

Faculty: Timothy X. Brown