What are some good resource(s) for learning how bitcoin works?

I can't seem to find any resources that are any more detailed than the basics - how you have wallets, the blockchain, confirmations, mining, etc. The source code for bitcoin is also a little beyond me.

What are some good resources that explain the maths behind bitcoin? i.e. things like:

  • How to mine bitcoin, step-by-step ('manually' - not how to setup cgminer or GUIMiner)
  • How to generate a new bitcoin wallet address
  • How to update the blockchain
  • etc
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Take a look into the technical wiki pages: https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Category:Technical

For example, Technical background of version 1 Bitcoin addresses explains how Bitcoin addresses are generated, or the Protocol specification might help you as well.


first of all nice question.
Secondly, here is Satoshi whitepaper. http://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf I don't know if it's all math you want to know, but might be helpful.
There is also NSA paper, which is probably somehow related. NSA is sometimes said to create bitcoin: http://groups.csail.mit.edu/mac/classes/6.805/articles/money/nsamint/nsamint.htm
I don't know anything more, but you should also consider reading source code after the first link.

Unfortunately, at this point the best resource is the source code itself. There isn't really good documentation. This is a major issue for the community and the economy as a whole because it stifles the growth and development of the economy. We all know what happens when only a few people understand and are able to meaningfully manipulate the monetary system . . .

The best aids you can find in this quest are people like those here on stackexchange but also in other places such as the Bitcoin IRC channel and the Bitcoin Forums

It would be great for everyone here and the world at large if you documented your learning process on github and the bitcoin wiki. That would be the answer to your question.

There is a book called Bitcoin Internals that explains how Bitcoin works technically. It covers all the major topics like addresses, transaction processing, the blockchain, mining, pools, etc.

The Bitcoin wiki (http://bitcoin.it) is a good reference for more specific details.

Satoshi Nakamoto's whitepaper is also obligatory reading, but it is only a partial explanation of how Bitcoin works.

Make a block explorer. It will teach you everything you need to know. Start small, just record each block, then look through transactions, then link transactions to addresses, etc etc.

The explanation at http://www.michaelnielsen.org/ddi/how-the-bitcoin-protocol-actually-works/ by Michael Nielson, gives a nice walk through what is going on at a pseudo technical level suitable for coder/devs to appreciate the underlying practicalities.

It takes a few minutes to read but doesn't talk down to the reader, and compares each stage to various concepts folk will probably already know or at least appreciate what is going on.

The block chains are quite similar to Git's commit chains in terms of their validation and verification capability for those who look at such issues.

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