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Course 2020-2021 a.y.

20729 - BLOCKCHAIN AND CRYPTO ASSETS

Department of Management and Technology

Course taught in English

Go to class group/s: 31

AFC (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  3 credits ING-INF/05  |  3 credits SECS-P/07)
Course Director:
LEONARDO MARIA DE ROSSI

Classes: 31 (I sem.)
Instructors:
Class 31: LEONARDO MARIA DE ROSSI


Mission & Content Summary
MISSION

Blockchain, Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies: three terms used often without having precisely in mind where the boundaries among them are located. Some believe that blockchain is the most promising and revolutionary technology currently being researched in the IT field, others think that is only an overhyped phenomenon destined to explode in a market bubble. Regarding Bitcoin, some think it is 21st century’s digital gold, non-country specific and censorship-resistant; others, that it represents an asset used only for illicit trafficking. The course aims at providing the tools from the technological perspective and from the business perspective to understand the technologies, their impact on business, finance and society at large, analyzing the following topics: - The starting point: Bitcoin. The story, motivations and basic technologies and bitcoin economics - Blockchain components and technologies: cryptography, ledgers, blocks, chaining, consensus models - Blockchain categorization and forking. History and main examples - The main permissionless platform: Ethereum - Smart contracts and DApp, digital sovereign identity - Blockchain limitations and misconceptions - The cryptoasset market development and the financial system: history, case studies, paradigms, regulations… - Blockchain applications and business implications - What’s next?

CONTENT SUMMARY

Introduction to digital money

  • Brief history of money: from shells to digital currencies
  • The three functions of money
  • Centralized vs. decentralized monetary paradigms
  • The case of Rai Stones
  • Failed attempts

 

Bitcoin in 5W (+1): Why, Where, Who, What, When and How

  • Why: why was Bitcoin created?
  • Where: where are data stored in Bitcoin?
  • Who: who owns Bitcoin?
  • What: what is the underlying asset of Bitcoin?
  • When: when are transactions confirmed?
  • How: how is bitcoin structured?

 

Anonymity and Privacy in Bitcoin

  • Introduction to the Darkweb
  • Financial anonymity and privacy
  • The myths about Bitcoin anonymity
  • Privacy gaps and past leaks
  • Possible solutions to enhance anonymity and privacy

 

A blockchain platform: Ethereum

  • Prologue: the expressiveness limits of Bitcoin script (statelessness, lack of Turing completeness)
  • Inception, design and deploy of Ethereum ("the world computer")
  • Differences with Bitcoin: scripting language, code execution and account model, governance
  • EVM and high level smart contract languages (Solidity)
  • Applications
  • Evolution and perspectives: sharding and proof of stake

 

Permissioned Blockchains

  • Motivations: performance and regulatory compliance issues of permissionless blockchains
  • Decentralization trade-offs: permissioned consensus protocols
  • Main permissioned platforms (e.g. EBSI, LIbra, Sovrin), perspectives and applications

 

The blockchain application landscape

  • How to catalog a DApp
  • Certification
  • Digital Identity
  • Financial Services
  • The Cryptoasset landscape
  • Gaming
  • P2P Energy Trading
  • P2P Content Distribution
  • Tracking and Supply Chain Management
  • Prediction markets
  • ICO: what are they, and what for?

 

Blockchain business considerations

  • Why blockchain can be considered a multi-layer infrastructure.
  • What are the blockchain architectural options.
  • When the blockchain makes sense in the enterprise and how to implement it.
  • What are the so called off-chain services and how do they work.

 

Introduction to Regulations and institutional initiatives

  • Italian and European initiatives
  • The role and position of Central Banks on cryptoassets
  • The blockchain regulatory framework

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)
KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING
At the end of the course student will be able to...

At the end of the course student will be able to:

  • Understand the idea of digital money and especially the functioning of Bitcoin.
  • Understand the technical elements of a blockchain architecture.
  • Comprehend the logic behind the development of an enterprise project based on blockchain.
  • Understand the concept of Decentralized Applications identifying benefits and weaknesses.
APPLYING KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING
At the end of the course student will be able to...

At the end of the course student will be able to:

  • Design and code blockchain-based smart-contracts.
  • Derive, from the key blockchain framework, the best approach to implement a blockchain solution.
  • Use some of the most common software tools (i.e. wallet and blockchain explorers) needed to manage and exchange a cryptocurrency protocol.

Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Guest speaker's talks (in class or in distance)
  • Case studies /Incidents (traditional, online)
  • Group assignments
  • Interactive class activities (role playing, business game, simulation, online forum, instant polls)
DETAILS

Guest speaker's talks (in class or in distance)

Students will have the chance to interact with experienced managers, executives and developers dealing with Bitcoin and Blockchain in order to discuss the main issues and trends in the field

 

Case studies /Incidents (traditional, online)

Discussions around relevant case studies will build a common understanding of the topics introduced by the instructor

 

Group assignments

A final group assignment will give students the opportunity to discuss among peers and collaborate in the development of a Blockchain application for a company

 

Interactive class activities (role playing, business game, simulation, online forum, instant polls)

Polls may be used to monitor the progress of the class understanding on the different topics and drive discussions


Assessment methods
  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
  •   x  
  • Group assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)
  •   x  
  • Active class participation (virtual, attendance)
  • x    
    ATTENDING STUDENTS

    With the purpose of measuring the Course expected learning outcomes, the assessment for attending students, the exam will consist of a partial exam (50% of the final mark) + group assignment and presentation (40% of the final mark) + class participation and activities (10% of the final mark).

     

    1. Partial exam: a multiple-choice questionnaire on the first part of the course, aimed at testing:
      1. their understanding of the key technical, economic and business aspects of blockchain-based cryptoassets;
      2. their knowledge about Bitcoin, Ethereum and Permissioned Blockchains;
      3. their understanding of the most relevant blockchain-based applications, their strengths and weaknesses.
    2. Group assignment: it focuses on the second part of the course, specifically designed to measure the students’ ability to design a blockchain application tailored to a specific business context. Each project will be evaluated both from a technical and business perspective.   
    3. Class participation: it will be crucial to acquire the ability to interact with executive and managers about the emerging trends and issues of blockchain in order to build an open and collaborative approach to the course’s topics.
    NOT ATTENDING STUDENTS

    The assessment for not attending students is based on a final written exam (100% of the grade). This exam will consist in:

    1. a multiple-choice questionnaire on the course, aimed at testing
      1. their understanding of the key technical, economic and business aspects of blockchain-based cryptoassets;
      2. their knowledge about Bitcoin, Ethereum and Permissioned Blockchain;
      3. their understanding of the most relevant blockchain-based applications, their strengths and weaknesses.

    2. Open questions aimed at testing their ability to analyze a blockchain-based solution from technical and business perspectives.


    Teaching materials
    ATTENDING AND NOT ATTENDING STUDENTS

    A collection of course readings will be made available in the course website through the University's elearning platform (Blackboard).

    Last change 15/07/2020 13:26