Rafael Pass is a Professor at Cornell Tech and in the Computer Science Department at Cornell University. He obtained his bachelor’s in Engineering Physics and a master’s in Computer Science, both from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Sweden, and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) in 2006. He has been on the faculty of Cornell University since 2006 and joined Cornell Tech in 2013. Professor Pass’ research interests are in the field of Cryptography and its interplay with Computational Complexity and Game Theory. Previously, Pass worked in the finance industry for J.P. Morgan and Price Waterhouse Coopers, and studied logic and philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris. He is a recipient of the NSF Career Award, the AFOSR Young Investigator Award, the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, and the Microsoft Faculty Award.
Cryptography has been around for thousands of years and is at the heart of digital communications today. Most people rely on cryptography on a daily basis without even knowing it; most popular messaging apps use encryption to ensure the security of messaging between two people. Blockchain technology, in a similar way, relies on cryptography to protect the identity of those sending and receiving messages and ensures that all information and transactions are secure and legitimate. Thus, to really understand blockchain technology, you have to understand the core principles of cryptography.
This course will walk you through the basics of cryptography: how information has historically been disguised (encrypted) and revealed (decrypted) using mathematics. You will see how a message can be turned into a number, and how that number can be encrypted and decrypted by two complete strangers. You will practice encrypting your own message to understand the basics of what makes a good encryption scheme. Then, you will delve deeper into the specific type of cryptography used in blockchain technology -- public key cryptography - and the promises and limitations it has in carrying out the core functions of a blockchain. You will create your own theoretical gold exchange in order to more fully understand how you can send anything to anyone around the world without a middleman. Ultimately you will know exactly how information on the blockchain is secured, legitimized, and authenticated without needing a third party to verify it.
You are required to have completed the following course or have equivalent experience before taking this course:
- Cryptocurrencies and Ledgers
Key Course Takeaways
- Explain what the classic problem in cryptography is and how cryptographic keys relate to blockchains
- Articulate why certain encryption schemes work by understanding the key design principles of good encryption
- Know how to tell whether a blockchain is backed by solid cryptographic building blocks to avoid bad business decisions
- Demystify how digital signatures prove origin of a message on the internet and thus provide a way to safely transfer any asset
How It Works
Who Should Enroll
- Business leaders
- Technology leaders, including CTOs
- Developers and software engineers interested in learning blockchain fundamentals
- Anyone seeking to develop a greater understanding of blockchain and cryptocurrency