Bitcoin Q&A: Cryptographic primitives

How are cryptographic primitives employed in Bitcoin? What are hashes and digital signatures? How does elliptic curve cryptography work?

See details in Chapters 4 and 6 of ‘Mastering Bitcoin’:

These questions are from the MOOC 9.3 session which took place on March 2nd 2018. Andreas is a teaching fellow with the University of Nicosia. The first course in their Master of Science in Digital Currency degree, DFIN-511: Introduction to Digital Currencies, is offered for free as an open enrollment MOOC course to anyone interested in learning about the fundamental principles.

If you want early-access to talks and a chance to participate in the monthly live Q&As with Andreas, become a patron:

Introduction to Bitcoin –
Bitcoin: Where the Laws of Mathematics Prevail –
Advanced Bitcoin Scripting: Transactions and Multisig –
The war on cash and crypto –
MimbleWimble and Schnorr signatures –
Mixing services –
Atomic swaps –
Directed acyclic graphs (DAGs) and IOTA –
Decentralised exchanges with fiat –
Decentralised exchanges and counterparty risk –
The Lightning Network –
Secure, tiered storage system –
Using paper wallets –
Re-using addresses –
How to get people to care about security –
Migrating to post-quantum cryptography –

Andreas M. Antonopoulos is a technologist and serial entrepreneur who has become one of the most well-known and respected figures in bitcoin.

Follow on Twitter: @aantonop

He is the author of two books: “Mastering Bitcoin,” published by O’Reilly Media and considered the best technical guide to bitcoin; “The Internet of Money,” a book about why bitcoin matters.





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Music: “Unbounded” by Orfan (
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26 thoughts on “Bitcoin Q&A: Cryptographic primitives”

  1. 147k subs (only) to this channel is a POI (proof of immaturity) of the cryptos space.
    Great content aantonop.

  2. While I do appreciate and understand the paint-principle, it is slightly flawed, as I have worked in a shop where we mixed paint for cars etc, and if you come show me a sample, I can make an exact replica simply by comparing it to a chart of colors. And that's car paints, they are somewhat a bit more creative and hard to recreate due to glossiness, and mother pearl and all kinds of fancy stuff you can mix in. But alas, unless you're willing to peel off a bit of paint from your wall, or take a picture with correct white balance set – yeah, I can't make that color based on description only, unless that description is the exact color code. So I guess, if someone has a chart of all possible permutations and blablafications of all elliptical cryptographic solutions, there's no way of short-cutting the mining process.. But even with it at hand, you'd still have to try one by one since u can't try them all at once, at least not until q-computing is feasible on a commercial basis, correct?
    Great video as always, Andreas!

  3. Was actually reading the part of Public/Private key from your book. This video really made it easy. Thank you.

  4. andreas and ivan on tech – best explainers in this space! thanks for all your super informative content

  5. I always ask myself how to answer some questions, I know answer to, but find it impossible to sum it up in comprehensible and succinct way. You always do that so naturally. You're great teacher.

  6. Am I right in thinking that Quantum computing can only use brute force to find private keys? i.e. it can generate a massive amount of keys but it still has to check the blockchain to see if that public key has been used? Or is it capable of more clever computing to break the cryptography?

  7. I'm a big fan of virtual currencies and i say virtual and not cryptos because i started invest long before, using e-gold. Unfortunately the downfall of e-gold made me skeptical and with XX K USD in the drain i said no more virtual and lost the birth of cryptos. I like people like you supporting this idea and even now i'm on BTC investing too, i have a light voice at the back of my head saying "don't forget e-gold"…

  8. Hi Andreas, I'd like to ask a question. If there was a 51% attack happening in BTC, how would network notice? Thank you.

  9. Hi Andreas, can you explain why and what is the significant reason that Bitcoin block is generated every 10 minutes? (why not 5 minutes or less?) and how is it compared to the block in Ethereum of every ~15sec? How to determine the "block time"?I guess that 10 mins is for the global consensus to 'sink in' but 15 sec seems rather short time to achieve a solid global consensus in Ethereum. (Will this post a treat in Ethereum?)

  10. I wanted to get a ticket for your event in Dublin. 25$ expensive, but ok I would spend that. But why are you not offering crypto payments like BTC & LTC?!!! Only Visa & Master???? You are speaking about internet money and then make people buy your tickets with FIAT??? I dont get you.

  11. When is he going to address Warren Buffett? Warren Buffett seems to have a beef with crypto currencies. I am waiting for someone to set him straight and counterpunch. Andreas? Get em…

  12. Bitcoin Cash claims that instant transactions are possible with 0-conf transactions. Apart from the fact that these are not really safe, is there a difference to Bitcoin transactions with nSequence=MAX?

  13. great explanation. A lot of people know the math, but few can explain this concept to those who don't.

  14. Multiplying two numbers has nothing to do with ECC. Operations in ECC are adding two points on a curve and multiplying a point by two, which is the same as adding a point with itself. The analogy of multiplying numbers is from RSA

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