CS 251: Blockchain Technologies


Fall 2023


The potential applications for blockchains and cryptocurrencies are enormous. The course will cover the technical aspects of cryptocurrencies, blockchain technologies, and distributed consensus. Students will learn how these systems work and how to engineer secure software that interacts with a blockchain system like Bitcoin and Ethereum. This course is intended for advanced undergraduates and graduate students.

Prerequisites and programming languages

The course assumes a familiarity with computer programming. CS107 (Computer Organization) or equivalent is required. CS111 (Principles of Computer Systems) or equivalent is strongly recommended. To the extent possible, the projects will be done in Python and Solidity. CS255 (Introduction to Cryptography) is helpful but not required; we will introduce concepts from cryptography as needed during class.

Textbook and Readings

We will list external reading sources on the course syllabus page. These readings will often serve to expand on what we will discuss in class. They are not a replacement for the lectures. They are also not necessary to be read before coming to lecture, but pre-reading can help in following the lectures.


There is will be a weekly section (see the main course page). Sections will be recorded. They are optional, but highly recommended. They will often expand on the material in the lecture, and introduce the programming projects.

Homework Assignments

  • There will be four written homework assignments and four programming projects.
  • You may collaborate when solving the written assignments, however when writing up the solutions you must do so on your own. If you collaborate, please list the names of your collaborators on your assignment.
  • Programming projects may be done in pairs or alone.
  • You must submit all homeworks and projects electronically. Submission instructions will be provided.
  • Extensions:  Each student has a total of 96 extension hours throughout the quarter. This automatic extension can be spent in units of 24 hours on any of the assignments and projects. Please mark the submission time for any late assignment.
  • Homework and projects will be due at 11:59pm on the specified deadline.


There will be an in-class final exam that will take place during the last week of the quarter at the assigned final exam slot for the course. If a special circumstance arises, please reach out to the TAs to take the exam remotely.


Final placement in the class will be determined by the following formula:

0.25 H + 0.5 P + 0.25 F

  • H is your average score on the written homework assignments.
  • P is the weighted average grade on the programming projects.
  • F is your final exam score.