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Stanford Offers Bitcoin Engineering Course to Build Social Media Apps and More

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Balaji Srinivasan, co-founder and CEO of 21 Inc. and Dan Boneh, a well-known researcher in the areas of applied cryptography and computer security, have co-launched a Bitcoin Engineering (CS251P) course at Stanford University.

During the course, Stanford University students will learn how to rewire internet services on the basis of Bitcoin, with no prior knowledge of the virtual currency. Instructors Srinivasan and Boneh will focus on building Bitcoin-enabled applications to monetize simple tasks with the currency.

In the 11-week course, Stanford’s new Bitcoin lab course will guide students as they learn to build innovative built-on bitcoin applications such as Bitcoin Instagram, Bitcoin WordPress, Bitcoin Dropbox and Bitcoin Twitter, which enables users to monetize content with bitcoin and settle micropayments with ease.

Bitcoin Twitter for example, takes full advantage of the Bitcoin network’s peer-to-peer and decentralized nature, with its capacity to send and receive micropayments worth less than a dollar. Using this feature of Bitcoin, users will develop add-on services to create a social endorsement service.

Bitcoin WordPress and Bitcoin Dropbox, which are introduced in the later parts of the syllabus, are inclusive of sophisticated bitcoin-enabled applications such as micropayments-based AdSense and fine-grained monetization that charges clients per read/write performed on a remote machine.

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“In subsequent weeks, you will build Bitcoin-powered versions of several popular Internet services, previewing a future where services are paid for not by ads or monthly fees but by per-use micropayments. There will be two weeks of open time for you to build interesting Bitcoin projects (the weeks of 1/18 and 2/15). In other weeks, we will provide you with stub code illustrating the basic mechanics of a Bitcoin-powered Internet service,” states the course outline.

Students taking the course will need a strong foundation in Python and some exposure to HTML and CSS to build useful bitcoin-enabled web platforms and applications.The course will be offered from this week, January 4 to March 11, 2016.

The Bitcoin Stanford lab course will expose a great number of programming and computer science students at Stanford to Bitcoin, and allow them to utilize the world’s most innovative financial technologies to transform a few of the most popular social media platforms and cloud storage applications.

Since mid-2015, an increasing number of universities and educational institutions including the prestigious Princeton University have begun to offer free online courses of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency technologies, as a response to the growing interest of banks and financial institutions towards the Bitcoin blockchain technology.

“After this course, you’ll know everything you need to be able to separate fact from fiction when reading claims about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. You’ll have the conceptual foundations you need to engineer secure software that interacts with the Bitcoin network. And you’ll be able to integrate ideas from Bitcoin in your own projects,” reads the Coursera website for the Princeton Bitcoin course.

University students, especially for those in the verge of deciding career paths, could benefit from Bitcoin-related openings and education offered by well-respected researchers and entrepreneurs like Srinivasan and Boneh.

Professor Boneh also taught an online course at Stanford titled “Crypto Currencies: Bitcoin and Friends” between September and December of 2015.