I find people asking me with increasing frequency how they can start to seriously learn about cryptocurrency, tokens, and blockchain technology.
This space is extremely multidisciplinary, cross-cutting math, economics, cryptography, game theory, computer science, financial markets, distributed systems, governance, programming language theory, law, and many other areas. There aren’t many people who can be called subject matter experts in more than one of these areas — and each of these areas has its own jargon.
All of the specialized language means that reading up on cryptocurrency requires tenacity. It can be easy to start to skim or skip the parts that aren’t immediately intuitive. Don’t do this. Battle through.
The syllabus below ranges from the basic to the highly technical, but you don’t need prior knowledge to be able to get through it and grasp the general principles.
- The Bitcoin Whitepaper, Satoshi Nakamoto
- Bitcoin’s Academic Pedigree, Arvind Narayanan & Jeremy Clark
- Smart Contracts — Building Blocks for Digital Markets, Nick Szabo
- The Ethereum Whitepaper, Vitalik Buterin
Explain Like I’m Five (or please at least try…)
- Making Money, Tess Rinearson
- Blockchain 101 — Elliptic Curve Cryptography, Jimmy Song
- How Digital Signatures Actually Work, Oleg Andreev
- zkSNARKs in a Nutshell, Christian Reitwiessner
In Search of Value
- Fat Protocols, Joel Monegro
- The dApp Developer Stack, Fred Ehrsam
- The Blockchain Paradox, Vili Lehdonvirta
- A Letter to Jamie Dimon, Adam Ludwin
Confidentiality & Privacy
- A Fistful of Bitcoins: Characterizing Payments Among Men with No Names, Sarah Meiklejohn
- Confidential Assets, Blockstream
- Ring Confidential Transactions, Monero
- Zerocash: Decentralized Anonymous Payments from Bitcoin, Eli Ben-Sasson et. al.
Scaling, Governance, & Interoperability
- The Bitcoin Lightning Network, Joseph Poon & Thaddeus Dryja
- A Proof of Stake Design Philosophy, Vitalik Buterin
- Tezos Whitepaper, L. M. Goodman
- A Protocol for Interledger Payments, Stefan Thomas & Evan Schwartz