Midterm Exam

The midterm exam will be in class, Wednesday, 21 October. The midterm will be closed-resources, but is meant to test understanding, not memorization.

The midterm covers: Classes 1-15, Checkups 1-2, Problem Sets 1-2, and the assigned readings: Chapters 1, 2, 3, and 5 from Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies; Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 7 from Mastering Bitcoin: Unlocking Digital Cryptocurrencies; Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System; Ittay Eyal and Emin Gün Sirer, Majority is not Enough: Bitcoin Mining is Vulnerable.

The first two questions on the midterm will ask you to comment on the technical validity of some statements in the Congressional Research Service report (in the first 8 pages, not the policy issues).

Extra Office Hours. There will be some additional office hours this week:

  • Monday, 5-6:30pm (Ori, Rice 442)
  • Tuesday, 2-3:30pm (Dave, Rice 507) (Added)
  • Tuesday, 3:30-4:30pm (Samee, Rice 442) (Added)
  • Wednesday, 3:30-4:30pm (Samee, Rice 442)
  • Thursday, 2:30-3:30 (Dave, Rice 507)

Scripting Transactions

Recall from class 12: Transaction outputs in bitcoin are protected by locking scripts, and must be unlocked by unlocking scripts. A transaction output is not unlocked unless an unlocking script is provided such that the result of executing the unlocking script, followed by executing the locking script, is a stack with value True on top.

OP_IF statements OP_ENDIF - If the top of the stack is 1, executes statements. Otherwise does nothing.

OP_CHECKSIG - Pops two items from the stack, publickey and sig. Verifies the entire transaction (known from node state, not the stack) using the publickey and sig. If the signature is valid, push 1; otherwise, 0.


The most common locking script (send to public address):

OP_DATA20 (bitcoin address)

What must be on the stack for the locking script to succeed (end with 1 on top of stack)?

20-byte hash

What must be on the stack for the locking script above (“Pay-to-Script-Hash”) to succeed?

According to Most Popular Transaction Scripts (analysis of all transactions in first 290,000 blocks), the ninth most popular script is:


What must be on the stack for the OP_RETURN OP_DATA_40 locking script to succeed (end with 1 on top of stack)? (Trick question: what happens to the coin protected by this locking script?)


Type: Script is the virtual machine the executes scripts (note that it has two Stacks)

Execute a script: Execute
Execute one instruction: Step

Opcodes: exec function executes one instruction

Some interesting opcode implementations: OP_IF, OP_RETURN

Bitcoin Core Code

script/interpreter.cpp, OP_DUP, Crypto, OP_CHECKSIG


Script Playground

Some interesting things you can do with bitcoin scripts:
Contracts (see also Nick Szabo’s Formalizing and Securing Relationships on Public Networks
Secure Multiparty Computations (to implement lotteries)

The OP_RETURN/pasted script execution bug doesn’t even make this list of The 9 Biggest Screwups in Bitcoin History.

More Reading
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