Learning about Blockchain and Bitcoin

By Roy Calaguas
8 Min Read
Learning about Blockchain and Bitcoin 1

If you are wondering about joining the loop of blockchain space and not have an iota of an idea how to go about it, then let us tell you that it is quite simple. You just have to study the relevant computer science fields that are responsible for the genesis of blockchain technology. These underlying fields are Cryptography, Distributed Computing, and Mechanism Design and have ushered in a revolution in the industry.


The study of these fields scales down the risk once you get involved in the space of blockchain. It has become a very robust knowledge base as compared to a crypto investor, or a Solidity developer because the fate of Solidarity of hangs in balance for the next 10 years when pitted against these computer science fields.

If you wish to make it big in the blockchain, it is imperative to have knowledge in these core fields of computer science. The hard work you put in to learn these topics is completely outweighed by the amount of money made by working in the blockchain technology. So, if you are making efforts to learn this revolutionizing technology, it will be worth your time. The fundamental subjects have been there for quite some time and stayed as it is. So, whether the trend is going upward or downward, blockchain technology will continue to be there.

# Cryptography

Cryptography is considered to be the most important concept to understand the present day of blockchain technology. As our assets are being transformed into digital assets, it is essential that we safeguard them using the robust cryptography and keep pristine insecurity. Since large companies are amassing gargantuan data of each and every individual, we must arm ourselves with tools that prevent these companies from misusing the data.

As in the physical world, we have locks, bank vaults, and castle walls to protect our physical assets such as money, gold, etc. in a similar manner, cryptographic functions protect our digital assets. Indubitably, this trend will increase in the near future and up the ante of our digitized assets.

Take a case in point of medieval Europe. The Feudal Lords availed physical protection methods and really beavered away to protect their lands using horse riding knight that strong-arms peasants into plowing the fields.

On the other hand, for digital assets, we have cryptography behind bitcoin securing over $300,000,000,000. This digital trend will continue to surpass those past trends of our society that secured our valuable assets.

# Distributed Computing

When bitcoin and concomitant fields of digital signatures, distributed computing, one-way functions, and mechanism design under one umbrella, the first reliable and trusted network sans little or no centralization was produced. Before the bitcoin technology kicked off, we had torrenting websites as a mark of global and distributed peer to peer network. They worked well but fell short of giving incentives to peers to make it run successfully in the network.

Anyone could post whatever they like including malicious software and go scot free. Absence of good incentives for peers to control their own computer for uploading data also led to failure.

In this aspect, the economic incentives provided by blockchain technology overshadowed the torrents. As a result, we now have full scale distributed computing systems using which we can monitor the problems of new distributed computing problems with real skin. There is some new and nifty Proof of Stake models to the likes of Ethereum’s Sharding which are highly fruitful in tackling well-known problems associated with computer science.

We can easily expect a lot of research to be exhumed in this area of computer science. It will be a mix of excitement and nervousness to study the distributed peer to peer networks at large scale.

# Mechanism Design

The easiest and basic definition of mechanism design is“if Computer Science and Game Theory had a baby, it would be named Mechanism Design.”

This is another link that is essential in blockchain space. A cryptographer may simply secure the data, but it must entail an incentive so that possessing data has some worth and to ensure that it cannot be spent double. Similarly, the lack of mechanism design will fail distributed computing engineer. If there is some imbalance in the built-in incentives, the distributed computing will become less secure and less effective just like that of torrenting sites. At this juncture, mechanism design keeps both the fields connected and works efficaciously to make active and successful blockchains. This field is growing too and continuously evolving as reflected by the study of Bitcoin.

From the very beginning, Bitcoin was developed to have an intuitive and inventive design. However, a major chunk of the mechanism was disturbed with the invention of ASIC miners.

These miners led to the concentration of mining power in the hands of a few people who took the leverage of their capital and bought ASICs and produced large mining farms. Consequently, the mining of bitcoins using a personal computer CPU ran into wild and caused weakening of decentralization of Bitcoin.

What are the resources to learn these fields?

There are numerous resources available both online and offline for those who want to study this field. You can refer to doksi.net for a comprehensive understanding of Blockchain technology. Apart from this, you can peruse the following resources for learning the fields associated with Bitcoin and Blockchain.

  • Cryptography

You can learn about cryptography at www.coursera.org which is a wonderful  Cryptography class, taught online by Dan Boneh, professor at Stanford.  This is best for those who want to study in a structured methodology similar to a classroom setting. Maths background people have an edge in this class. However, it is not necessary that you must know calculus because most of it is algebraic equations.

  • Distributed Computing

“Network of Blockchains” by Cosmos at Ethereum with Shardingis inclined to give you a blockchain approach. Their research of “build a new decentralized internet” approach of Blockstack brings together all the interesting areas of computer science under the one umbrella. Those, who are intrigued by the skin in the game can consider learning through this research.

  • Mechanism Design

Matt Ridley’s book on Mechanism Design is like your bible to understand game theory. This will work best for beginners and give you a starting point for learning mechanism design. It does not completely focus on computers but teaches you how game theory comes into play in the markets of biology, computer networks, the stock market, etc.

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