Princeton Releases Free Bitcoin Textbook


A team of computer science professors, led by Princeton’s Dr. Arvind Narayanan, released the first comprehensive Bitcoin textbook today — naturally it’s all online for free.

Bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency, can be difficult to understand. Bitcoin, founded in 2009, was the first major completely electronic cash system, allowing peer-to-peer transfers of funds. Six years later, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are a fully-functioning part of the global economy — athletes get paid in them, Bitcoin’s creator was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, and stores are accepting them on Black Friday.

But the unregulated, often untraceable networks of cryptocurrencies have also made them useful assets for scammers, and even terrorists, who have partly funded global crime with bitcoins.

Most news-savvy people these days have some idea of what bitcoin is used for (drugs, mostly, in the beginning), but understanding how it works is something different entirely.

Dr. Narayanan’s book, which will be published in hard copy by Princeton University Press this year, is a deep dive into the cryptocurrency that’s still understandable for people with a cursory knowledge of computer science and programming. And if reading the thing cover to (digital) cover isn’t for you, you can use the book as part of Dr. Narayanan’s online course. The first draft of the book can be downloaded for free here.