Fall 2020 Fundamentals Decal


The Blockchain Fundamentals DeCal is a comprehensive survey of relevant topics in cryptocurrency and the wider blockchain space. From a technological standpoint, we start with the basics of cryptography and economics, establish a solid fundamental understanding of Bitcoin by building it from the bottom up, then explore the myriad of ideas and technologies relating to blockchain technology. On the non-technical side, we start with the history of digital currency, then look at the laws, organizations, trends, and communities behind it to build a complete picture of the ecosystem surrounding blockchain technology.


Many people find it difficult to understand cryptocurrencies and blockchain, the product of coordination between many complex components; and it’s hard to see the full picture until all the individual components are fully understood. Furthermore, since the field is technical and relatively new, cryptocurrency-related discussion by nature is full of jargon. Therefore, it is easy to get lost trying to follow nearly any conversation on crypto/blockchain if you have not built up the right background.

The goal of this course is to surmount the steep learning curve of cryptocurrency. By the end of this course you will understand how cryptocurrencies work and the ideas, technologies, and organizations sprouting from it.

WeekTopicLecture SlidesHomeworkVideos
1Bitcoin Protocol and Consensus: A High Level Overview

2Bitcoin and Blockchain History: From the Cypherpunk Movement to JPMorgan Chase

3Bitcoin Mechanics and Optimizations: A Technical Overview

4Bitcoin IRL: Wallets, Mining, and More

5Game Theory and Network Attacks: How to Destroy Bitcoin

6Ethereum & Smart Contracts: Enabling a Decentralized Future

7Securing Incentives: Cryptoeconomics & Proof-of-State

8Trust without Trust: Distributed Systems & Consensus

9Scaling Blockchain: Cryptocurrencies for the Masses

10Enterprise Blockchain: Real-World Applications

11The Fight for Privacy: Anonymity, Mixing, & Altcoins

12Conclusion: A Blockchain Powered Future


Course Numbers: TBD
Day and Times: TBD
Location: TBD
Course Staff:  Janice Ng, Erika Badalyan
Class Format: 2 hours of lecture per week, discussion dispersed throughout lecture
Communication: Primarily through e-mail. Course e-mail is fun-decal@blockchain.berkeley.edu
Prerequisites: This course have no formal prerequisites. However, blockchain is very technical in nature, so coming into this course with knowledge of computer science or cryptography will be extremely helpful, although not required. If you have any concerns about the nature of this course, do not hesitate to reach out to the facilitators.
Class Entry Policy: In order to enroll, students must attend the first lecture. We will then send out enrollment codes to everyone.


Grading: P/NP. You must get at least a 70% to pass the class – to be clear, a lower score equates to a No Pass. Grading will be based on Homework and Quizzes (30%), Attendance (30%), a Final Paper (30%) and Participation (10%). There will be assigned readings each week, which you should complete in order to do well. If you have any questions regarding grades, email your discussion leader.

Full details in the syllabus: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1PWUtFXa7DG8ftZkxByAuRu8x6UUoW_ELm1y02VmUqmg/edit?usp=sharing


Previous Course Pages: https://blockchain.berkeley.edu/courses/archive

Textbooks: You are free to read from these books, which are both freely distributed and available online. Please do NOT go out and buy them. Some readings may be pulled from these books during the course.

Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies (Princeton textbook) by Arvind Narayanan, Joseph Bonneau, Edward Felten, Andrew Miller, and Steven Goldfeder:

(Optional/Additional) Mastering Bitcoin by Andreas Antonopoulos:
PDF: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8lgcDXI8hEfbXFYcTh6aXNqRkk/view?usp=sharing
Source: https://github.com/bitcoinbook/bitcoinbook


If you have any additional questions, please e-mail the course staff at fun-decal@blockchain.berkeley.edu!