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Lecture 1 — Intro to Crypto and Cryptocurrencies





Welcome to the first lecture in our series on Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies. I want to start by introducing the four lecturers who are going to be speaking in the series.
The first lecturer is Joseph Bonneau. He's a postdoctoral researcher in computer science at Princeton University.
The second lecturer is me, Ed Felten. I'm a professor at Princeton in computer science and at the Woodrow Wilson School.
The third lecturer is Arvind Narayanan. He's a computer science professor at Princeton. And fourth, our special guest lecturer is Andrew Miller. He's a PhD student in computer science at the University of Maryland. There will be 11 lectures in total.
In this lecture, number one, we're going to do two things. First we'll introduce some cryptographic primitives that turn out to be necessary for talking about cryptocurrencies. In particular, we'll talk about cryptographic hashes and digital signatures, and we'll talk about some of the ways in which those are used to build cryptocurrencies.
And then at the end of the lecture, we'll start talking about cryptocurrencies, and I'll give some examples of simple cryptocurrencies that illustrate some of the design challenges that we need to deal with. I want to apologize for covering the cryptographic material at the beginning. Unfortunately, we have to eat some of our vegetables a little bit in order to lay groundwork for the cryptocurrency stuff. So if you came for the cryptocurrency stuff, let me assure you, first of all, that we will get to it in this lecture, and that having laid the groundwork in this lecture, there's going to be a lot more specifically cryptocurrency-focused material in later lectures.
All right. So let's get to it.