CS590.02: Cryptocurrency and Cryptography

2021 Fall


Upcoming deadlines

Course format



Blockchains are gaining fast adoption thanks to their strong security properties. For example, as of July 2021, blockchain-powered decentralized finance (DeFi) manage more than 55 billion USD in value. However, blockchain as a technology is still in its infancy and facing various challenges, including poor performance, lack of privacy, disconnection from the real world.

In this course, we will read recent papers on how to improve the security, privacy, scalability, and the functionality of cryptocurrencies and smart contracts using various cryptographic tools.


The schedule is tentative and subject to change.

#DateSectionTopics (presenter)Deadline
008/23 MonIntroductionLecture Logistics and overview
108/25 WedLecture Intro to blockchains
208/30 MonScalabilityLecture Overview of scalability problem, payment channels, and Layer 2 protocols
Presentation sign up due
309/01 WedDiscussion MAD-HTLC: because HTLC is crazy-cheap to attack (Oakland 21) (Lulu Zhou)
409/06 MonDiscussion Arbitrum: Scalable, private smart contracts (USENIX 18) (Sarisht Wadhwa)Team formation
509/08 WedDiscussion An Empirical Analysis of Privacy in the Lightning Network (FC 21) (Luke Qin and Ziyi Zhang)
609/13 MonLecture Consensus and HotStuff (Dr. Ted Yin)
709/15 WedState and storage (Part I)Lecture State and Stateless. Vector commitments (KZG)
809/20 MonLecture Vector commitments cont. and PointProofs
909/22 WedProject pre-proposal presentations

Make a short presentation about your intended project to solicit feedback from your classmates.

  • Keep your presentation to 5 minutes, plus Q&A.
  • Describe the problem you want to solve.
  • Provide some context to the problem in terms of background and related work.
  • Describe how you plan to:
    • Solve the problem
    • Evaluate your solution
    • Address potential ethical concerns
    • Give feedback to your classmates about their projects.
(all groups)
Project pre-proposal presentation
1009/27 MonState and storage (Part II)Lecture Hyperproofs: Aggregating and Maintaining Proofs in Vector Commitments (Dr. Alin Tomescu)Project proposal due (deadline extended)
1109/29 WedDiscussion Flyclient: Super-Light Clients for Cryptocurrencies (Oakland 20) (Sasha Popov and Yubo Ding)
-10/04 MonNo class
1210/06 WedPrivacy and anonymityLecture Privacy-preserving techniques in blockchains
1310/11 MonDiscussion Ekiden: A Platform for Confidentiality-Preserving, Trustworthy, and Performant Smart Contracts (EuroSP 19) (Ruikang Li and Kunal Upadya)
1410/13 WedDiscussion AMR: Autonomous coin mixer with privacy preserving reward distribution (AFT 21) (Bohan Li and Brian Rodrigez)
  • Tornado Cash
1510/18 MonDiscussion Remote Side-Channel Attacks on Anonymous Transactions (USENIX 20) (Yu Tang and Ryan Chang)
1610/20 WedOraclesLecture Oracles and their applications
1710/25 MonDiscussion ASTRAEA: A Decentralized Blockchain Oracle (Will Lenihan and Gio Vignone)
1810/27 WedDiscussion SoK: Oracles from the ground truth to market manipulation (Silas Lenihan and Jack Rosenthal)
1911/01 MonDiscussion CanDID: Can-Do Decentralized Identity with Legacy Compatibility, Sybil-Resistance, and Accountability (Oakland 21) (Jannis Stoeter and Sachin Sanjay)
2011/03 WedDeFi SecurityLecture Intro to DeFi and DeFi Security
2111/08 MonDiscussion Order-fairness for byzantine consensus (CRYPTO 20) (Andrew Epprecht & Yupei Liu)
2211/10 WedDiscussion Attacking the DeFi Ecosystem with Flash Loans for Fun and Profit (Derrick Adam and Dylan Paul)
2311/15 Mongroup project presentationDiscussion Group Presentations (Team 3 (5.15-5.30 PM), Team 7 (5.35-5.50 PM), Team 9 (5.55-6.10 PM))
2411/17 WedDiscussion Group Presentations (Team 1 (5.15-5.30 PM), Team 5 (5.35-5.50 PM), Team 8 (5.55-6.10 PM))
2511/22 MonDiscussion Group Presentations (Team 4 (5.15-5.30 PM), Team 2 (5.35-5.50 PM), Team 10 (5.55-6.10 PM), Team 6 (6.15-6.30 PM))


See this page.