Distributed Ledgers and Cryptocurrencies

Course Description

This course aims to provide an understanding of how blockchain and distributed ledgers work and an overview of the ideas, technologies, and organizations arising from them, such as cryptocurrencies. It covers the technological underpinnings of blockchain operations as distributed data structures and decision making systems, their functionality and different architecture types. It provides and understanding and a critical evaluation of existing technological capabilities and platforms, and examines their future directions, risks and challenges.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Define main notions in the distributed ledger technology
  2. Explain the underlying technology of transactions, blocks, proof-of-work, and consensus building
  3. Describe the differences between the most prominent blockchain structures
  4. Analyze platforms such as Ethereum for blockchain based application building
  5. Justify the utility and value of a digital currency
  6. Evaluate settings where blockchain based structures may be applied, their potential and their limitations
  7. Recognize new challenges that exist in monetizing businesses around cryptocurencies and distributed ledgers

Forms of Teaching


Seminars and workshops


Week by Week Schedule

  1. Introduction to distributed ledger technology and cryptocurrencies (historical development of cryptocurrencies; review of literature and tools), fundamentals of cryptography (cryptographic hash functions).
  2. Basics of cryptography (digital signatures; public keys as identities), basic cryptocurrencies.
  3. Nakamoto consensus (distributed consensus; consensus without identity using a blockchain).
  4. Bitcoin's protocols (Bitcoin transactions; Bitcoin scripts; the Bitcoin network).
  5. Approaches to mining and consensus (Bitcoin mining problem; incentives and mining strategies).
  6. Alternative approaches to mining (ASIC-resistant cryptographic puzzles, proof-of-useful-work, proof-of-stake and virtual mining).
  7. Bitcoin applications and security (Bitcoin storage; online wallets and exchange, cryptocurrency exchanges).
  8. Midterm exam
  9. Programing smart contracts on Ethereum (traditional contracts vs. smart contract, programming model of smart contracts, basic example).
  10. Ethereum overview (Ethereum project, Ethereum blockchain structure, gas and transaction fees).
  11. Anonymity, scalability and regulation (anonymity, off-chain channels, lightning network, regulation).
  12. Cryptocurrency ecosystem (altcoins: history and motivation, detailed analysis of several altcoins, relationship between Bitcoin and altcoins).
  13. Business perspective of cryptocurrencies (smart contracts in industry).
  14. Legal perspectives on cryptocurrencies (taxation of cryptocurrencies).
  15. Final exam

Study Programmes

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A. Narayanan,‎ J. Bonneau,‎ E. Felten,‎ A. Miller, S. Goldfeder (2016.), Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies: A Comprehensive Introduction, Princeton University Press
Andreas M. Antonopoulos, Gavin Wood Ph.D. (2018.), Mastering Ethereum, O'Reilly Media
A. M. Antonopoulos (.), Mastering Bitcoin: Unlocking Digital Cryptocurrencies, A. M. Antonopoulos, O'reilly media press, 2015., O'Reilly media press

Associate Lecturers

Laboratory exercises

For students


ID 222666
  Winter semester
L3 English Level
L1 e-Learning
30 Lectures
5 Seminar
15 Laboratory exercises

Grading System

Very Good