This post was written by Rohan Agarwal
I enjoyed attending Jimmy Song’s Programming Blockchain seminar in Amsterdam! It was a deep dive into the Bitcoin protocol and the underlying mathematical concepts that are fundamental to making Bitcoin transactions and the core technology. I’ve been interested in learning more about Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other blockchain technology at the protocol level, and this seminar was a great way for me to get my hands dirty by building a Python client for Bitcoin.
In this article, I talk about my interest in learning about Bitcoin, the structure of the seminar, and my biggest takeaways from the experience.
I was lucky to receive the PinkCoin scholarship to attend the seminar and join Jimmy on his Off Chain show. I talked about what I plan to do with the knowledge I would gain from the seminar.
The Seminar in Amsterdam
The seminar is structured as 8 ninety-minute sessions across two days where each session builds on concepts from previous sessions. We covered everything from mathematical concepts, elliptic curve cryptography, transaction parsing, Script (Bitcoin’s smart contract language), mining, simplified payment verification, and advanced concepts like Segwit. Each session is a combination of Jimmy presenting concepts and coding exercises in Python. The sessions move at a fast pace, so you need to do your homework before and after, but you finish each session with a solid understanding of how the concepts make Bitcoin work.
Using our Python client, we were able to construct a Bitcoin transaction from scratch, sign it with our private key, and broadcast the transaction on the Bitcoin test network. Constructing and validating Bitcoin transactions is a major part of the Bitcoin protocol so it was rewarding to see it in action!
Biggest Takeaway for me
Many people, including me, started following the cryptocurrency and blockchain ecosystem in 2017. It’s easy for newcomers to develop the opinion that Ethereum is better than Bitcoin due to its Turing-completed smart contract language. Additionally, news around Bitcoin scalability issues and governance issues, resulting in hard forks, tend to strengthen that opinion.
During and after the seminar, I had a chance to chat with other students who have been following the space for much longer. It was amazing to hear their perspective and see their strong passion for the Bitcoin ecosystem. Bitcoin has proven to be the most resilient and most secure blockchain since its inception. Additionally, the lightning network, support for sidechains, Schnorr signatures, and increased privacy are just a few of many things to be excited about for Bitcoin. The biggest takeaway for me is to dig deeper into the incredible innovation that’s happening in Bitcoin and judge newer protocols like Ethereum with a bit more scrutiny.
I want to thank Jimmy and Michael Flaxman, who co-instructed the seminar, PinkCoin for the scholarship, and all of the other students for making this experience very memorable!
If you have any questions about the seminar, I’d be happy to give you more details about it. I recommend attending one of the upcoming seminars if you’re interested in the technology!