18f-HON: Future of Money

Logistics

We meet T11.45-13.25 and R14.50-16.30 in Hastings 109. Our first class is Thu Sep 6. My office hours are right before class and by appointment.

Goals

This course will explore the past and future role of money in society. How did the concept arise? Can we define properties that money provides in a modern economy? Most of the course will focus on new techniques from the area of cryptocurrencies. We will study the mechanisms for how cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum work.

The course is entirely self-contained and requires only basic high-school math. Students interested in the future of money and how it will impact society, business and government will learn how these new currencies work.

This course is taught in a seminar style. The class time will be centered around discussions and in-class experiments. You are expected to read and experiment on your own or in groups before the classtime.

Course Schedule

I will post lecture slides and videos here.

  • L1 Sep6 Introduction, course setup.
  • L2 Early theories of money
  • L3 Early theories of money discussion
  • L4 Currency markets
    • US Money, Gold standard, Bretton-Woods, Nixon Shock
    • Critique of the Gold standard, Soros vs Bank of England
    • Denationalization of money Hayek
    • Venezuela current events
  • L5 Why it is hard to agree
  • L6 Overview of Bitcoin [Original paper]
  • L7 More discussion of Bitcoin All slides up to L7
  • L8 Primer on cryptography
  • Reaching agreement in the presence of faults [paper]
  • L9 Primer
  • L10 Why Bitcoin fosters agreeement
    • You can see my recent paper for a more technical argument.
  • L11 Arbitrage
  • L12 Ethereum overview
  • L13 Ethereum contracts demo, create a token, create a crowdsale
  • L14 Discussion of Parity multi-sig wallet hack, difficulty of contract writing
  • L15 Exploration of Ethereum-based Tokens
  • L16 Exploration of Ethereum-based Tokens
  • L17 Adding privacy to public ledgers
    • Monero, Zcash
  • L18 Zero Knowledge Proofs
  • L19 Discussion: ICOs
  • L20 Proof of Stake
  • L21 Proof of Stake
  • L22 Course Projects
  • L23 Course Projects
  • L24 Course Projects
  • L25 Course Projects

Project

Your grade in this seminar is based on class participation, class presentations on mini-topics, and a final course project. Your project can be on any topic related to money, and should be the result of roughly 100 hours of thorough investigation of the topic, including both conceptual and quantiative reasoning. For example, as a project, you can write software to perform new cryptocurrency functions, or you can perform historial analysis on interesting monetary data that you collect or gather. Ambitious projects can be taclked by groups. We will spend part of class time on developing interesting course projects.

Policies

No late homework will be accepted. We have to start grading as soon as you turn these in, and we need to keep our two sections in sync.

Collaborating with other students in the class on homework problems is encouraged, though we urge you to first attempt working out all of the problems by yourself. In any case, you must write up your solutions, in your own words. Furthermore, if you did collaborate on any problem, you must clearly list all of the collaborators in your submission.

Finding solutions to homework problems on the Internet or by asking people who are not enrolled in the class is prohibited.

Textbook

You do not need a textbook for this course.

Expectations

I encourage group/collaborative work; most people enjoy that aspect. I make myself available during evenings for Google Hangouts office hours, and I also record my lectures so that you can review them offline.

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