InstructorsJ.P. Singh (jps at cs dot princeton dot edu)
Robert S. Fish (rfish at cs dot princeton dot edu)
Graduate TAsSunayana Rane (srane at princeton dot edu)
Nicolaas Kaashoek (nicolaas at princeton dot edu)
Julio Cezar Castro Lins Barroso
Required BooksPritzker, Yan. Inventing Bitcoin. 2019.
Narayanan, A., Bonneau, J., Felten, E., Miller, A., and Goldfeder, S. Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies. 2016.
Recommended BooksVoshmgir, S. Token Economy. 2019.
Ammous, S. The Bitcoin Standard. 2018.
Meeting time and placeWednesday 1:30-4:20PM, Robertson Hall 016.
Attendance is required. No more than one absence will be permitted.
Course staff have scheduled office hours:
- Robert: Wednesdays from 4:30pm in Corwin 037
- Sunayana: Mondays 6-7pm on Zoom
- Nick: Thursdays 2-3pm in CS building room 401
This course serves as an introduction to the fast-developing world of Web3, focused on the applications of blockchains, cryptocurrencies, and decentralization through technology.
Students will learn about blockchains and the decentralization of trust and power through technology, launch a cryptocurrency token, and build an application on a blockchain. We will also discuss applications, ethical implications, and policy questions around decentralization.
Weekly meetings may include a topical lecture, a guest speaker, and a class discussion. In some weeks students may be asked to prepare and give a presentation or a short talk.
- Component Points
- Class Participation 60
- Drop two lowest
- Assignment 1 40
- Assignment 2 100
- Presentation 100
- Midterm Proposal 100
- Final Deliverable 250
Make sure you do the readings and assignments before the class next by which they are listed.
Readings are essential to this class. Without them you will be lost in the class discussions. Treat them as seriously as any other assignment.
In addition, there will be a class reflection due after each session.
You should write about the lecture given that week or, if there was a guest speaker, the talk given by that speaker.
Each writeup should be 1-1.5 pages, single spaced.
All writeups are worth 27 points, and must include the following:
- A key message that you found interesting and not so obvious that you took away from the talk.
- Something in the talk that you disagreed with, or you feel is controversial, and why.
- A question someone in class asked of the speaker, the speaker's answer, and your thoughts on the answer including whether you agreed or disagreed with it, and why.
- Originality - does the response show clear personal consideration and thought
- Depth of analysis - e.g., referencing external material to back up a point
- Quality of expression - proper spelling and grammar, strength of writing, etc
Writeups should be submitted via Canvas by 11:59 on Friday following a lecture
ParticipationWe will post an Ed board for each speaker where you are encouraged to post interesting questions for the speaker.
Using this Ed board can contribute to your participation score. We encourage you to post a thoughtful question or comment before lecture.
The penalty for late work is 10% per day late.
Three "late day penalty waivers" are given to each student. Please note on your submission that you are using a late day.
In a group assignment, all members of a group will need to use a late day waiver if work is turned in late (or receive a penalty).
No work can be turned in after Dean's Date.
The schedule and readings are subject to change.
- Feb 01
Introduction to Web3 and Decentralization
Guest Speaker: Pete Briger
- Feb 08
History of Money | Blockchains and Bitcoin
Guest Speaker: Lyn Alden - bio
Read: Inventing Bitcoin (book)
- Feb 15
Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies I
Guest Speaker: Muneeb Ali - bio
Turn In: Assignment One (on canvas)
Read: Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies ch.1
Recommended: "But how does Bitcoin work?" by Grant Sanderson (3blue1brown)
- Feb 22
Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies II
- Ron Miasnik: Blockchain overview
- Joseph Rubin: Intro to Smart Contracts
Recommended: Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies ch.3
Recommended: Defining the Web3 Stack
- Mar 01
- JP Smith of Skolem: Smart Contract Auditing
- Zaki Manian of Iqulision: Blockchain Interoperability
Recommended: Learning Solidity
Recommended: Ethereum Whitepaper
- Mar 08
Blockchain Interoperability Part 2 and Scaling Blockchains
- Sreeran Kannan of Eigenlayer: Scaling Blockchains
- Nick White of Celestia: Modular Blockchains
- Mar 10
- Turn In: Assignment Two (on canvas)
- Mar 15
- Spring Recess
- Mar 22
Blockchain Interoperability Part 3 & Wallets
- John Light of Sovryn: "Rollups, bridges, and related scaling and interoperability technologies on public blockchains", supported as a William Pierson Field Lecture
- Theodor Marcu and John Suh '20: "Introduction to Wallets"
Recommended: Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies ch.4
- Mar 29
DeFi & Stablecoins
Turn In: Midterm Report
Read: Decentralized Finance: On Blockchain- and Smart Contract-Based Financial Markets
Read: Stablecoins: The quest for a low- volatility cryptocurrency
Recommended: Stability in Volatile Markets
- Apr 5
Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)
Read: Technical Deep Dive Into and Implementation of Non-Fungible Tokens in a Practical Setting
Read: NFTs, explained
Recommended: Ethereum NFTs
Recommended: 2021 NFT Year in Review
- Apr 12
Identity, Anonymity, and Pseudonymity
- Apr 19
Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs)
Read: The Future of Work is Not Corporate — It’s DAOs and Crypto Networks
Read: How to Solana — Chapter 5: DAOs & Governance
Recommended: Report of Investigation Pursuant to Section 21(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934: The DAO
- Apr 26
- Policy and Regulation
- May 03
- Reading Week; reserve class time for potential invited speaker
- May 09
Turn In: Final Project
Interesting ReadingsWhy it's too early to get excited about Web3
Papers and ArticlesNakamoto, S. "Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System," 2008.
Chaum, D. "Security without Identification: Transaction Systems to Make Big Brother Obsolete," Communications of the ACM, 28(70), 1985.
WebsitesOpen Zeppelin (reusable smart contracts that could be helpful for final projects)
US Security and Exchange Commission on Initial Coin Offerings
TutorialsStacks NFT Tutorial (Clarity)
Frequently Asked Questions
May I partner with someone?
In some circumstances, yes. We will let you know when partnering is appropriate.
Will taking this course enable me to accumulate a crypto fortune?
A wise person once said that the quickest way to a $1 million fortune was to start with a $5 million fortune and then trade speculatively.