Spring 2021 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.

Previous Semesters: https://blockchain.berkeley.edu/courses/archive



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.

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WeekTopicLecture SlidesLecture Recordings
1Bitcoin Protocol and Consensus: A High Level OverviewWeek 1 SlidesWeek 1 Recording
2Bitcoin and Blockchain HistoryWeek 2 SlidesWeek 2 Recording
3Bitcoin Mechanics and Optimizations: A Technical OverviewWeek 3 SlidesWeek 3 Recording
4Interacting With Bitcoin: Wallets, Mining, and MoreWeek 4 SlidesWeek 4 Recording
5Bitcoin in the Wild: Game Theory and AttacksWeek 5 SlidesWeek 5 Recording
6Trust without Trust: Distributed Systems & ConsensusWeek 6 SlidesWeek 6 Recording
7Ethereum and Smart Contracts: Enabling a Decentralized FutureWeek 7 SlidesWeek 7 Recording
8Cryptocurrencies for the Masses: Scaling BlockchainWeek 8 SlidesWeek 8 Recording
9Defi / XceleratorWeek 9 SlidesWeek 9 Recording
10Conclusions: A Blockchain Powered FutureWeek 10 SlidesWeek 10 Recording

Course Numbers: TBD
Day and Times: Thursdays 6pm – 8pm PST
Location: Online
Course Staff: Ava Payman (avapayman@berkeley.edu), Nate Pola (natepola@berkeley.edu)

Class Format: 2 hours a week, consisting of lecture and subsequent discussion on relevant topics. Lectures will be on big picture ideas in the blockchain space, and discussions will go in depth on the material and will require participation from everyone. Each student may be required to formulate one question about the lecture material. There will also be regular reading and study material provided.
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. All are welcome regardless of technical background, and additional resources will be available upon request.

Enrollment: After applying on the decal website, the facilitators will update you with your enrollment status (accepted or waitlist) as soon as it changes. Entering our class is dependent on obtaining a course entry code, which will be given out after the second week. If you are accepted and attend the first two lectures, we will email you your code and you must enroll in the class within three days or the code will be considered invalid. We will also be enforcing a mandatory attendance policy for the first two classes—you will be dropped if you miss either of these two classes. Additionally, because the first two weeks of lecture are instrumental in building a concrete understanding of cryptocurrency, waitlisted students that have attended the first two weeks of classes will be strongly preferred.


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 (40%), Discussions (30%), and a Final Paper (30%). If you have any questions regarding grades, email your discussion leader.

Full details in the syllabus: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1b717dkawDG06tdfSEdVpwzt2-H6_vSSMlwBPkqpEchY


Blockchain at Berkeley EdX Lectures: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqeIoMMTKl9PK9O8BcEpNhQ/playlists

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 by Arvind Narayanan, Joseph Bonneau, Edward Felten, Andrew Miller, and Steven Goldfeder

PDF: https://d28rh4a8wq0iu5.cloudfront.net/bitcointech/readings/princeton_bitcoin_book.pdf

● (Optional) 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 a content-related question: Post in Piazza!
● If you have an administrative question – enrollment, auditing, logistics: fun-decal@blockchain.berkeley.edu