- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Princeton University Press (July 19, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0691171696
- ISBN-13: 978-0691171692
- Product Dimensions: 1 x 7.2 x 10.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 21 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies: A Comprehensive Introduction Hardcover – July 19, 2016
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Honorable Mention for the 2017 PROSE Award in Computing and Information Sciences, Association of American Publishers
"For people interested in the inner workings of Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies, this is an excellent book."--Choice
"This book provides an outstanding treatment of a complex phenomenon--the rise of cryptocurrency technologies."--Wilko Bolt, Journal of Economic Literature
"This book is a very nice introduction to Bitcoin, its structure, how it can be used (and possibly abused), and how it might evolve in the future. . . . The authors have a relaxed tone and this book could easily be incorporated into an undergraduate curriculum."--Jeffrey Putnam, Association for Computing Machinery Computing Reviews
From the Back Cover
"Block chain technology is set to disrupt many different industries. If you want to get up to speed on this fast-moving technology, this book should be your first stop."--Campbell R. Harvey, Duke University
"Among this book's many features are lots of nice, concrete examples and pleasant anecdotes, as well as a highly readable and enjoyable history of cryptocurrencies. Strongly recommended."--Tyler Moore, University of Tulsa
Top customer reviews
I still recommend it because the style is clear and my only frustration is that it's so good it leaves you wanting more.
It does not address Ethereum or programmable blockchains in any real way, but it will give you deep foundational understanding about how such a thing can possibly exist. If you care about where networked computational technologies will be going in the next 25 years start here.
As in introduction, Bitcoin is a digital currency and payment system created by a person named Satoshi Nakamoto. It was sent out as a proof of concept in 2008 and the open source code was released the following year. It uses a peer-to-peer system for transactions without the need any intermediate servers. The force behind Bitcoin is its ledger system, which is done via a blockchain. More about that later.
In Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies: A Comprehensive Introduction, authors and noted Bitcoin experts Arvind Narayanan, Joseph Bonneau, Edward Felten, Andrew Miller and Steven Goldfeder have written a highly technical resource that is perhaps the best Bitcoin reference in print to date.
Bitcoin is gaining serious momentum, but it is still not at a point where it is a ubiquitous payment system. Case in point that the book is available on eBay, Walmart, Amazon, publisher’s web site and more. But not of them will accept Bitcoin as a payment method.
In the following 11 chapters, the authors cover every core aspect of Bitcoin:
1. Introduction to Cryptography and Cryptocurrencies
2. How Bitcoin Achieves Decentralization
3. Mechanics of Bitcoin
4. How to Store and Use Bitcoins
5. Bitcoin Mining
6. Bitcoin and Anonymity
7. Community, Politics, and Regulation
8. Alternative Mining Puzzles
9. Bitcoin as a Platform
10. Altcoins and the Cryptocurrency Ecosystem
11. Decentralized Institutions: The Future of Bitcoin?
The author’s explain in technical detail how the underlying Bitcoin protocol and technology operates. Bitcoin also has a number of technical and security limitations which are also discussed.
One of the more significant limitations that may turn out to be problematic is that the cryptographic algorithms in Bitcoin are hardcoded and fixed within in the protocol. There are only a few hash algorithms available and only one signature algorithm that can be used. Given that, there is concern (albeit limited), that the underlying cryptography in Bitcoin could be one day broken. While the logical solution may be to just change the protocols, the authors go into a detailed technical overview of why this ostensibly simple idea is not feasible.
Truth be told, the same crypto security concern exist for the RSA cryptosystem which is based in part on the difficulty of factoring large numbers.
Common wisdom says that Bitcoin is a fully anonymizing protocol. The authors address that topic at length. The reality is that Bitcoin is for the most part anonymous, but not fully anonymous. A skilled adversary could use various tactics to determine who made a specific transactions.
The notion that Bitcoin is anonymous annoyed someone so much that they created a web site with a long list of references and quotes Bitcoin's anonymity and privacy.
The author’s detail how Ross Ulbricht, who created the Silk Road black market website, was ultimately caught. It was due in part to his inability to keep his public and private identifies separate. That enabled the FBI to connect them, which led to his arrest. The Ulbricht case demonstrated that it’s quite hard to stay anonymous for a long time while being active and engaging in a course of coordinated conducts working with other people over time.
Ulbricht thought that by using Tor, Bitcoin and other pseudo-anonymous systems, that he would be invisible to law enforcement. That should be a cautionary tale to others.
Bitcoin could have been but another in a long line of cryptocurrencies and electronic cash. Its key differentiator is it decentralization and the use of blockchains. The Bitcoin blockchain is a public ledger of all transactions that occur on the Bitcoin network. The openness of the blockchain means any user can connect and send new transactions to it or verify a transaction.
The blockchain lends itself to possible attack and the book details the ways in which it is secured.
The companion website for the book has a number of videos and programming assignments. The programming assignments are quite helpful and explore the depth of designing and building a basic cryptocurrency.
For those looking to get a highly detailed Bitcoin technical overview, this book is a must read. They provide both technical and real-world examples, included implementation methods of lessons learned from technical failures. The authors have created a highly readable comprehensive overview of the topic that will be of value to anyone looking to explore the most significant cryptocurrency of our times.