Rafael Pass is a Professor at Cornell Tech and in the Computer Science Department at Cornell University. He obtained his bachelor’s in Engineering Physics and a master’s in Computer Science, both from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Sweden, and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) in 2006. He has been on the faculty of Cornell University since 2006 and joined Cornell Tech in 2013. Professor Pass’ research interests are in the field of Cryptography and its interplay with Computational Complexity and Game Theory. Previously, Pass worked in the finance industry for J.P. Morgan and Price Waterhouse Coopers, and studied logic and philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris. He is a recipient of the NSF Career Award, the AFOSR Young Investigator Award, the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, and the Microsoft Faculty Award.
Variations of blockchain technology have existed for decades, but the recent hype is the result of a new kind of blockchain, one that distributes the responsibility of verifying transactions and thereby making it more secure, transparent, and enduring. This course will teach you to understand the differences between the blockchain technology of today and the former, less accessible and less transparent blockchains of decades past. You will dig into the mechanics of the [newer] Bitcoin blockchain protocol and how it ensures the longevity of a decentralized public ledger as well as how it gets consensus for approving transactions. With that knowledge you will then work to analyze what problem(s) blockchain technology aims to solve, how it solves them, and how to make sense of the promises that developers of new blockchain protocols make.
You will analyze a sample protocol to determine why the protocol might not satisfy the key properties that make a “good” blockchain secure. You will be better prepared to critically analyze all the endless new cryptocurrencies that emerge and the underlying blockchain technology that they operate on. You will outline several industries and business purposes for which the blockchains of today make sense. You will solve a computational puzzle in Excel to better understand how transactions get verified in the Bitcoin blockchain protocol. In the course project, you will design a theoretical blockchain for a company, outlining advantages and disadvantages of the properties you will think the blockchain should have based on the unique aspects of your business.
You are required to have completed the following course or have equivalent experience before taking this course:
- Cryptocurrencies and Ledgers
- Cryptography Essentials
Key Course Takeaways
- Know what properties a public ledger must have in order to be useful for financial applications
- Understand the differences between the permissionless blockchains of today and former permissioned blockchains of decades past
- Know how the Bitcoin blockchain protocol ensures the longevity of a decentralized public ledger
- Analyze the opportunities and challenges of a permissionless blockchain
How It Works
Who Should Enroll
- Business leaders
- Technology leaders, including CTOs
- Developers and software engineers interested in learning blockchain fundamentals
- Anyone seeking to develop a greater understanding of blockchain and cryptocurrency