Bitcoin Association’s new deputy editor Jamie McKane reflects on his time taking the Introduction to Bitcoin Theory course at Bitcoin SV Academy and shares the insights gleaned from the experience.
As a relative newcomer to the code and cryptography behind blockchain technology, my insight into Bitcoin’s underlying mechanics has been limited. However, through Bitcoin SV Academy’s Introduction to Bitcoin Theory course, I gained a far deeper understanding of Bitcoin and the technology behind it.
The Academy is a dedicated online learning platform launched by Bitcoin Association which offers free academia-quality, university-style courses tailored to deliver a comprehensive and in-depth explanation of Bitcoin as envisioned in Satoshi Nakamoto’s 2008 white paper.
Bitcoin SV Academy’s courses are an invaluable resource for those interested in learning about Bitcoin SV and the mechanics of blockchain.
The Introduction to Bitcoin Theory course offers a thorough explanation of Bitcoin’s foundations – from the nature of satoshi tokens and digital signatures to the process of transacting and mining on the blockchain.
The Bitcoin protocol and blockchain have evolved since their inception, but their core principles and vision have been preserved through the Bitcoin SV network, which adheres to the original concept of Bitcoin as a peer-to-peer electronic cash system. As a result, the course demonstrates these applications and functionalities with reference to Bitcoin SV.
I took around nine hours to complete the course and after I was done, I was able to understand the potential applications of Bitcoin and revisit the original white paper with a greater appreciation of the technology underlying an amazing innovation designed to completely overhaul traditional payment and data storage models.
Upon completing the course, Bitcoin SV Academy also awards you with a certificate you can share on Facebook and LinkedIn.
A wealth of learning material, delivered excellently
Bitcoin SV Academy’s courses are a level apart from the tutorial videos and blockchain breakdowns that litter YouTube and other corners of the internet. Instead of bite-sized explanations of high-level concepts, they offer a university-like course structure that dives into the underlying functionality behind every feature of Bitcoin.
Course material is divided into discrete chapters – each of which includes a summary video, sub-sections that explain each concept in detail and regular assessments.
These assessments acted as waystations on my path to learning how Bitcoin works – testing my grasp of each concept as I learned it and ensuring that I understood the potential applications of each solution proposed in the white paper before allowing me to progress.
The Introduction to Bitcoin Theory course material may be extensive, but all concepts are explained in detail, with helpful infographics and explanation videos interspersed throughout each chapter.
I have limited to no expertise in software development and yet by the time I had completed the course, I understood a wealth of blockchain-related topics, including:
- How intractable cryptographic hash algorithms and the Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA) both secure the Bitcoin blockchain and are used to digitally sign transactions.
- Unspent transaction outputs (UTXOs) and their function as digital money within Bitcoin.
- Bitcoin’s basic mechanics, such as its first-seen transaction rule, chain validation, directed acyclic graphs (DAGs) and its resistance to attack.
- The nature of Bitcoin transactions, including their structure and ability to write and process data to an immutable ledger.
Even complex topics, like the risk of dishonest chains overtaking valid chains, are delivered in a way that is easy to understand without any experience in cryptography or statistics.
These concepts and many more like them were previously alien to me, and throughout Bitcoin SV Academy’s short course I found myself reviewing a few widespread misconceptions about Bitcoin.
Clarity on foundational principles
One of the key strengths of the Introduction to Bitcoin Theory course is its demonstration of the basic principles and mechanics that underpin Bitcoin. These principles are most accurately adhered to by Bitcoin SV, which aims to deliver on the promise of a peer-to-peer digital cash system that solves double-spending and can be used to build applications and use cases that run on a decentralised and trustless network.
The course explains Bitcoin’s design philosophy through a deep dive into the tenets of the white paper’s proposals, and through this, it also clarifies popular misconceptions about the technology. It demonstrates through a breakdown of the white paper that the function of Bitcoin as digital peer-to-peer cash, rather than a store of value, is aligned with its innate design and is by far the more relevant application of its underlying technology.
This is demonstrated by everything from Bitcoin’s native ability to run Simple Payment Verification (SPV) nodes for lightweight transaction broadcasting to the white paper’s description of the technology’s potential use cases.
As I progressed through the course, I found myself increasingly excited about the potential of Bitcoin made possible by its revolutionary design. The course outlines each mechanic in a way that demonstrates its necessity to the security of the system and its ability to enable unprecedented network applications. It summarises the Bitcoin white paper in a way that is digestible, accessible and captivating.
In Introduction to Bitcoin Theory, Bitcoin SV Academy has delivered a course that is both comprehensive and exciting. If you are interested in Bitcoin and the technology behind it, whether you are a seasoned developer or a complete novice, Bitcoin SV Academy’s free online courses deliver an unparalleled experience.
You can sign up for ‘Introduction to Bitcoin Theory’ on the Bitcoin SV Academy website.