Crypto Reading List

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crypto reading list

For a more friendly reading experience, we recommend navigating here.

A curated list for getting up to speed on crypto and decentralized networks.

The content on the toplevel page contains what we consider essential reading. Child pages contain deeper, topic-specific information to review afterward.

The lists here are a work in progress. We welcome any feedback or criticism! Please open a PR/issue here or reach out to [email protected] with any suggestions, or to report any errors.

Nothing in this repo constitutes financial or legal advice.


Why is crypto important?

We'd recommend starting your exploration by trying to understand what problems crypto is trying to solve.

In a few words, we'd say it is:

  • enabling a decentralized ledger-based currency system
    • decentralized means, extremely difficult for bad actors to forge transactions taking your holdings
  • enabling a decentralized network of computation / decentralized state transition machine
    • decentralized means, extremely difficult for bad actors for enact state changes not defined in sourcecode
  • enabling an open network of APIs that can be leveraged to build increasingly advanced apps
  • enabling an incentive model for these open networks to grow via crypto tokens

Here's the list:

More: see in-depth page: Why

Blockchain mechanics & innovations

We think it's essential reading to understand how bitcoin works, and how smart contracts (pioneered by Ethereum) work.

DeFi primitives

In-depth page: DeFi

Next, let's try to understand the major kinds of financial dApps on the blockchain. Although there are many types, we'd say the two most common are:

  1. Lending protocol (a decentralized bank, i.e. a smart contract where you can loan your assets for yield, or do borrow while paying interest). Example: Aave
  2. Decentralized exchange (most commonly an Automated Market Maker (AMM), a smart contract with two pools of assets that allows swapping from one asset to the other). Example: Uniswap

A third, which can be thought of as a competitor to (1) of sorts, is:

  1. Decentralized stablecoin issuer (a protocol allowing you to deposit assets (e.g. Eth) and borrow a decentralized stablecoin (minted by the protocol) against it). We say that it is a competitor of sorts to (1) where the lender is the protocol. Example: MakerDAO

Initial reading material on these categories:

For much more, see our in-depth page on DeFi

NFTs & digital identity

In-depth page: NFT

DAOs & Governance

In-depth page: DAO

Byzantine Fault Tolerance & Proof-of-Stake algos

At this point, we'd recommend learning about alternative smart contract blockchains.

A fundamental design decision in blockchains is the mechanism by which block producers (miners in Bitcoin and Eth 1.0) come to consensus on the next block. This problem of doing so in a distributed system with a variety of actors--some of whom may be sending intentionally confusing or destabilizing messages to their peers--is the key to establishing consensus and progressing the blockchain.

Bitcoin and Eth 1.0 accomplish this by proof of work ("Nakamoto consensus"), but most other blockchains use variants of a different family of algorithms referred to as Byzantine Fault Tolerant (BFT) algorithms.


In-depth page: L1

At this point you might want to dig into different L1 blockchains--both their protocol designs and their ecosystems. See in-depth pages below:


In-depth page: L2

Trading mechanics

In-depth page: TradingDynamics

In-depth page: MEV/Arbitrage

Smart contract programming

In-depth page: Development

Economic design

In-depth page: EconDesign

Tools & Analytics

In-depth page: Tools


Check your understanding with these thought questions and exercises.

Other references

Other lists/directories

In-depth page: Other Lists

Original research

In-depth page: Researchers

Online courses

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