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BU course CAS CS595, Spring 2024
Blockchain technology amalgamates technical tools, economic mechanisms, and system design patterns. It facilitates the construction of information systems with novel combinations of robustness, decentralization, privacy, cost, and flexibility. Beyond their initial use in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, blockchains have become a promising and powerful technology in business, financial services, law, and other areas.
This course covers blockchain technology in a comprehensive, systematic, and interdisciplinary way. It surveys major approaches, variants, and applications of blockchains in these areas. Beyond a solid grasp of the principles, the course aims to build familiarity with practice through numerous case studies and hands-on projects.
To facilitate its interdisciplinary perspective, this course will be open to two categories of students: students with Computer Science background (graduate or advanced undergraduate), and graduate students with a substantial Business or Law background and a working knowledge of computer programming.
Projects will be done in heterogeneous teams combining these categories, and will center on devising and analyzing sample applications of blockchain technology, including both prototype implementations and analysis of its business/legal implications.
Disentangling "blockchain”; cryptographic prerequisites; assets and their representations; on-chain programming; state consensus; deployments; decentralized applications (Dapps/Web3); protocol governance; protocol revenue and business models; market structure; privacy and authorization; regulation.
Students will obtain a comprehensive overview of blockchain technology and markets, suitable as a foundation both for academic research and for industry practice/entrepreneurship. They will learn the capabilities of this technology, as well as the pitfalls and lessons learned from past security and business failures.
Since blockchain technology draws on a wide array of tools from distributed systems, software development, and cryptography, the course will also exemplify the usage of concepts students have seen in prior classes or (if not previously encountered) to gain awareness of these tools.
Similarly, blockchain markets provide ample, often dramatic, examples of key concepts in economics, business model development, funding, and risk management.
Furthermore, through the interdisciplinary topic coverage and the heterogeneous project groups, students will gain exposure to other disciplines’ core conceptual and analytical frameworks.
The course will cover the following topics:
Connections between these topics, and to real-world projects, will be explored through abundant examples and suggestions for further reading.
Class time will also be allocated to student project presentations and feedback.
One of the following:
Law School students with a suitable background are also welcome. Exceptions, such as equivalent industry or informal experience, will be considered.
CAS CS595 Advanced Topics in Computer Science (4 credits)
For any questions, you can contact the instructor.