Learning

Learning

There are many good points of reference out there on the web for learning about blockchain but at the time of writing I don’t recall seeing a single place which pulls them altogether. I haven’t checked out the MOOCs to know if they are of any benefit or not.

 

At the time of writing an interesting article surface arose which highlighted why Bitcoin is hard to “get”. A deep understanding of Bitcoin and there blockchain requires understanding the intersection of “cryptography, distributed systems, economics and politics”. I have a few small qualms with the article but otherwise agree with the overall spirit of the piece. It also serves to highlight how I came across Bitcoin early: I found myself interested in that intersection of technology before Bitcoin was around. Admittedly, I’ve also had a lot of learning to do but my interests were already there which is why it seemed so obvious that it was a ‘good’ thing. In this article I am going to link to mostly technical resources rather than anything specifically related to politics or economics. In my opinion those topics are easier to grasp and there is far more material out there to help form an opinion (although not necessarily a correct one ūüėČ ) on these latter topics.

 

Learning Strategy

I think the best way for anyone to learn about blockchain is to start with Bitcoin. It was the first blockchain and has defined a lot of the direction that the space has taken. Moreover, it is simpler to understand (conceptually) than the projects which have followed. If you understand the ins and outs of Bitcoin then you are in a very strong place to understand all the other projects. After that I would look at Ethereum. Part of the reasoning for this is that it is perhaps the most popular blockchain and represents a natural progression from Bitcoin.

 

The following list is intended to be a point of reference rather than a training course per se. If you read through Andreas M. Antonopoulos’s Bitcoin book then you will have a solid understanding. I’ve referenced his book below and use it as a core piece of my learning material. It is available online for free, just follow the links. Expect this list to grow and evolve as time goes on. Some of the links below will lead to fairly technical information. Consequently some links will be easy to read while others will not.

 

Overviews of blockchain technology

The following articles provide insightful overview to blockchain technology. They serve as interesting points of reference and for providing simplistic explanations. To gain a deeper understanding you will need to dig deeper by reading the links later in this post.

 

 

Bitcoin – Fundamentals from a technical perspective

The most coherent and concise explanation I’ve seen about Bitcoin is in¬†Andreas M. Antonopoulos’s Bitcoin book. The material goes into enough technical detail to provide a good understanding.

Further Reading

 

Ethereum

After mastering Bitcoin I would recommend digging into Ethereum before going further afield. Unfortunately, Antonopoulos’s book on Ethereum has not yet been released. He is co-authoring it with Gavin Wood and ought to be a comprehensive guide. Until that book is released I can at least recommend checking out the book “Introduction to Ethereum and Solidity”. It is provides a reasonable overview of Ethereum plus some practical examples of how to get started with Solidity programming, but it doesn’t go into the sort of depth that Antonopoulos did with Bitcoin.

Overview

A gentle introduction to Ethereum.
I really need more information on Ethereum to fill out this section.

Smart Contracts

Everyone loves crowdsales and ICOs, so here is a little information about those contracts:

 Smart Contract Security

Decentralised Apps (DApps)

 

Mining and secure nodes

Mining hardware and software

There are various types of Proof-of-work found in the different coins:

 

Secure nodes

 

Anonymity Protocols

Generic anonymity protocols

Blockchain Specific

Ring Signatures

 

Miscellaneous Topics

P2P Storage

Scaling solutions
Solutions to increase the number of transactions per second.

 

Permissioned / Private Blockchains

Future Directions
A non-exhaustive list of interesting future directions.

 

Supplementary Information

Integrity and hash functions