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University of California, Irvine

The Merkle Tree and Cryptocurrencies

University of California, Irvine via Coursera


Apply what you have learned about cryptography and hashing in previous blockchain to the Merkle Tree, which underlies the process of adding new blocks — representing new transactions — to the blockchain. This course also introduces the concepts of proof of work and proof of stake, which play an important part in ensuring the integrity of the blockchain.

This course requires the purchase of two books for the completion of assignments:

Drescher, D. (2017). Blockchain Basics: A Non-Technical Introduction in 25 Steps. (ISBN-13: 978-1484226032)
Antonoupoulos, A. M. (2017). The Internet of Money, Volume Two. (ISBN-13: 978-1947910065)


  • Hashing and The Merkle Tree
    • This first week introduces more technical concepts including how we look at the manner in which data blocks are assembled as well as how hash values and encryption are used to ensure the proper sequencing and integrity of data blocks that are added to a blockchain.
  • Hashing and an Introduction to Cryptocurrencies
    • This week we will apply what we have learned up to this point about hash values and hash sequences. You will practice assembling block header hash values for a specified hash puzzle difficulty level.
  • Proof of Work and Proof of Stake I
    • Now that we have investigated hash functions and hash puzzles, we will focus on proof-of-work, which is an approach to modifying the blockchain that can be difficult and time-consuming to compute. We will also focus on proof-of-stake, an alternative to updating the blockchain in which larger nodes are modified that already represent a large portion of the blockchain. We will investigate the pros and cons of each approach and prepare to apply the principles of proof-of-work and proof-of-stake.
  • Proof of Work and Proof of Stake II
    • In this final week, after comparing proof-of-work and proof-of-stake, we will explore and describe alternative approaches that combine the best features of proof-of-work and proof-of-stake in this course’s final assignment.

Taught by

Stefano M. Stefan


4.7 rating at Coursera based on 22 ratings

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