There are lots of guys asked me how to learn Blockchain. I think it’s time to sum up the roadmap. The Blockchain theory is not that difficult, but for most of developers still need to spend enough time on it to get used to the way of thinking, and also read lots of papers to know the theory behind that. Be ready to get used to it.
Bootstrap papers and white papers
First Paper：Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System，This is the original paper of the Bitcoin, almost no formula, just simple words and logic to describe the whole trust network. If you get some trouble to understand the paper content, you can buy some books from Amazon. Make sure that you know all the details of the Bitcoin Chain.
Second Paper：A Next Generation Smart Contract & Decentralized Application Platform which is published by the founder of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin in 2014. The paper come up with the defect of the Bitcoin-chain. also with some marvelous new idea. The most important idea is the Smart Contract. If you are still interested in the detail of the whole system, please read the Ethereum: A Secure Decentralized Generalized Transaction Ledger, written by Gavin Wood, the previous CTO of the Ethereum.
Third Paper： IPFS — Content Addressed, Versioned, P2P File System，IPFS is a Blockchain based distributed filesystem. Before this, the infrastructure of the storage is not complete, restricting most of the applications on Blockchain. If we regard Bitcoin-Blockchain as just a distributed ledger, then Ethererum added simple calculation functions to it. The IPFS will be the most fundamental storage function. It will play an important role in the future Blockchain development.
Others: If you start to get used to the white paper, then try to read more, and try to invest ICO depends on your judgement of the projects.
Advanced White Paper
There are three general weak point in Bitcoin Blockchain: anonymity, transaction speed and fee, electricity wasting. Many white paper and projects are been proposed to solve these issues.
As everybody knows that the chain of the Bitcoin is not safe enough, because it just implemented the pseudo anonymous which means that the transactions are linkable, and traceable. The paper CryptoNote v2.0 is trying to solve these problems which has been the fundamental theory of the security of the Blockchain. The paper proposed two schemes: one is elliptic curve combined with Diffe-Hellman to generate a transaction which is only visible to the participants. another is One-time Ring Signature mechanism to solve the traceable issue.
Another important security topic papers are zero-knowledge proof based methods, ZeroCoin and ZeroCash.
- Zerocoin: Anonymous Distributed E-Cash from Bitcoin
- Zerocash: Decentralized Anonymous Payments from Bitcoin
Transaction speed and fee issue
The reasons of these two issue are basically the same. The blockchain is the distributed database system, so when someone wants to insert new data to the chain, every node in the system have to verify the data. It’s kind of wasting computation resource and time. So, when trying to optimize the transaction speed and fee issue, researchers proposed The Bitcoin Lightning Network: Scalable Off-Chain Instant Payments, which is trying to move the most of transactions to off-chain which mean the transactions will be a peer to peer action before they decide to synchronize. When all the off-chain transactions meets some conditions, then these transactions will be synchronized to the public-chain, and started to do consensus work. It will save a lot of time and resource.
The Bitcoin power issue is from the consensus algorithm. Proof of work algorithm is kind of computation-driven algorithm. Most of the optimation methods is to replace Proof of Work to Proof os Stake.
- POS vs POW：The difference between Proof of Work and Proof of Stake.
- Proof of Stake FAQ：Details about Proof of Stake in Ethereum.
- Plasma：Next generation of Scalable Autonomous Smart Contracts.
Cryptography, Consensus, Game Theroy are the main theories behind the Blockchain.
Hash functions, elliptic curves, key exchange etc… If you are not familiar with these, buy a book.
The core of consensus is Byzantine Generals Problem.
Game theory is the most important design in the Blockchain. The goal of Game Theory in blockchain is to get a balance, that the bad guys has no incentive to be bad, and the good guys is trying to be better.
When you are trying to learn Blockchain, remember to be patient. Lots of fantastic design and knowledge are waiting for you. In the next few months, I will write more articles about the detail mentioned above.
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