American academia has offered courses across the country on cryptocurrencies for a couple of years now. New York University, Duke University, Princeton and others have all offered courses on Bitcoin. The Stanford University School of Engineering in Stanford, Calif. offers a new course, Bitcoin Cryptocurrencies, for the Autumn semester.
100 students have enrolled and the course features labwork in which students experiment with Bitcoin applications. The syllabus is available here. There is no limit as to how many students may enroll. The course professors are Professor Dan Boneh and Professor Joseph Bonneau
“We’ll be covering Bitcoin itself in detail as well as applications and extensions (such as sidechains and Lightning Network payments) and important altcoin proposals (such as Ethereum, Stellar and ZeroCash),” course Professor Joseph Bonneau wrote CCN in an email. Students will be assigned several hands-on programming projects. In Bounneau’s mind, cryptocurrencies are relevant because they are changing the world.
“Cryptocurrencies are a great topic for teaching both because they are impacting the world and they involve almost all areas of cryptography and computer security as well as many other areas of computer science, ranging from distributed consensus to NP-completeness to zero knowledge proofs,” the Stanford professor explains. “In many cases, Bitcoin or other altcoins represent the largest and most interesting practical use of these concepts.” The course offers practical experience.
“Students are highly motivated and interested because they can work closely with an exciting real-world phenomenon,” he added.
But we can also use it as a great venue to teach important fundamental concepts.
The course is open to all Stanford undergraduate and graduate students, as well as students in Stanford’s Center for Professional Development.
“We’re still early in the process of solidifying the science of crypto currencies,” Professor Bounneau explains. “Within 5-10 years I would like to see much of this material becoming a standard part the computer science curriculum at Stanford and elsewhere. But today, the community of people who understand Bitcoin on a deep technical level is still relatively small.” This number, in the Professor’s mind, is very low.
“My personal wild guess would be perhaps 1,000 people or fewer,” he said.
If we can start turning out 100 students a year who are experts on Bitcoin, this will really start growing the community quickly which should lead to exciting new technical advances in the future.
Featured image from Shutterstock.