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Bitcoin: How to design a peer-to-peer currency

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Bitcoin is commonly known as an electronic currency, but the truly novel part is its protocol to establish trust without relying on a central authority. Bitcoin uses digital signatures combined with a hash-based proof-of-work system to establish this trust. Designing such a protocol requires deep knowledge of cryptography and distributed systems. It’s a puzzle to consider not only why Bitcoin was designed the way it was, but how it could be improved. Unlike other distributed protocols, the bitcoin network itself requires minimal structure. It is composed of identical nodes that agree on a chain of transactions, commonly known as the blockchain, which relies on only very simple cryptography. Modifying the blockchain for uses other than currency is another intriguing design problem.

This talk is part of the Churchill CompSci Talks series.

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