Princeton University Releases First Draft of Bitcoin Textbook

The first complete draft of an upcoming Princeton University textbook on bitcoin has been made freely available for download.

AccessTimeIconFeb 10, 2016 at 7:04 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 12:07 p.m. UTC
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The first complete draft of an upcoming Princeton University textbook on bitcoin is now available.

Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies takes comprehensive look at the technology behind bitcoin. The free download is the first complete draft of the book, with an official version expected to be published this summer.

Citing its "conversational style", co-author Arvind Narayanan, an assistant professor of computer science at Princeton, wrote in an introductory blog post:

"If you’re looking to truly understand how bitcoin works at a technical level and have a basic familiarity with computer science and programming, this book is for you."

In addition to Narayanan, the book was authored with Electronic Frontier Foundation technology fellow Joseph Bonneau; University of Maryland computer science PhD student Andrew Miller; Princeton University computer science PhD student Steven Goldfeder; Concordia Institute for Information Systems Engineering assistant professor Jeremy Clark; and Ed Felten, professor of computer science and public affairs at Princeton who was named as a technology advisor to President Barack Obama last year.

Homework included

The book assumes a basic understanding of computer science, and is aimed at students, software developers, entrepreneurs, and technology hobbyists.

The work addresses a number of questions about bitcoin, focusing on how the technology functions as well as what the future might bring for the network.

Further, the authors examine a number of other aspects of the cryptocurrency, including security, user anonymity, regulation and the types of applications that can be built using bitcoin as a platform.

For those that want to delve even deeper into the technology, the book's chapters also include a series of "homework questions". In addition, there are programming assignments with which readers can implement various components of bitcoin using simplified models.

"After reading this book, you’ll know everything you need to be able to separate fact from fiction when reading claims about bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies," the authors say. "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 into your own projects."

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