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Author Topic: Getting the foundations of bitcoin looked at by Bruce Schneier  (Read 6259 times)
mcdett
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February 18, 2011, 07:20:51 PM
 #1

I believe that we all have a staked interest to understand better the mathematical foundations in which bitcoin is operating on.

I propose the following:

1 - We write an open letter to Bruce Schneier [1] asking him to spend sometime reviewing and writing about bitcoin (I can write this, and will publish it in this thread before sending)
2 - In return for Bruce's services we will give him bitcoins
3 - That Gavin Andresen (@gavinandresen) establish a bitcoin address for donations to serve this purpose [2]
4 - That if we can't get Mr. Schneier to respond in a positive fashion within 30 days that all coins will be delivered back to the donor

I pledge 100 bitcoins to this effort.

Thoughts please.


[1] author of (http://www.schneier.com/book-applied.html) such a great book.  I wrote a Java class for public key encryption back in 1998 using this book

[2] I'd do it myself, but since I lurk mostly, I don't have an established 'credit' with the community here
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mcdett
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February 18, 2011, 07:37:48 PM
 #2

ROUGH FIRST DRAFT

Bruce Schneier,

We of the bitcoin community respectfully ask you to review the cryptography techniques deployed in the bitcoin software.  We are requesting a review of the foundational concepts deployed more than a line-by-line audit of the software (if you know of a good person to help us with that it please pass it along).

We will provide you with (total amount in pledges)/2 bitcoins for agreement to this effort, and (total amount in pledges)/2 bitcoins upon its completion.  We will accept agreement via email to gavinandreses(get gavin's email), and completion once you post to your blog the findings.


Thanks for your consideration.



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February 18, 2011, 07:43:50 PM
 #3

The letter probably needs to include links to Satoshi's paper and to the source code repository.
mcdett
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February 18, 2011, 07:53:07 PM
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The letter probably needs to include links to Satoshi's paper and to the source code repository.

Yes... since this is an open letter please feel free to put some url's in this thread that you find interesting.


Thanks for the feedback!
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February 18, 2011, 08:00:18 PM
 #5

A link to satoshi's paper is an absolute requirement:  http://www.bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf


Jeff Garzik, bitcoin core dev team and BitPay engineer; opinions are my own, not my employer.
Donations / tip jar: 1BrufViLKnSWtuWGkryPsKsxonV2NQ7Tcj
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February 18, 2011, 08:01:43 PM
 #6

feel free to put some url's in this thread that you find interesting

The design of the Bitcoin system is described by this paper by Satoshi Nakamoto:

Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System
http://www.bitcoin.org/sites/default/files/bitcoin.pdf

The source code is here:

Bitcoin source code repository
http://bitcoin.svn.sourceforge.net/viewvc/bitcoin/
mcdett
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February 18, 2011, 08:03:24 PM
 #7

ROUGH SECOND DRAFT

Bruce Schneier,

We of the bitcoin community respectfully ask you to review the cryptography techniques deployed in the bitcoin software.  We are requesting a review of the foundational concepts deployed more than a line-by-line audit of the software (if you know of a good person to help us with that it please pass it along).

We will provide you with (total amount in pledges)/2 bitcoins for agreement to this effort, and (total amount in pledges)/2 bitcoins upon its completion.  We will accept agreement via email to gavinandreses(get gavin's email), and completion once you post to your blog the findings.

To understand better what this is please visit http://bitcoin.org and start with this paper --> http://www.bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf

Thanks for your consideration.



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mcdett
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February 18, 2011, 08:10:59 PM
 #8

The value bitcoin gets from this is also greater public legitimacy (which would increase the value of bitcoins I hold).
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February 19, 2011, 01:59:01 PM
 #9

The value bitcoin gets from this is also greater public legitimacy (which would increase the value of bitcoins I hold).

This is a very good idea, as the layman always has questions as to security.  I will watch the thread and consider donating.  I met Bruce once at some hacking convention in Vegas years ago.  Damn nice guy.
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February 19, 2011, 03:44:47 PM
 #10

Have you asked Gavin if he'd do this? If yes then I'm down for 250BTC

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February 19, 2011, 03:52:40 PM
 #11

I'll send Gavin an note about it now.
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February 19, 2011, 04:03:35 PM
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I sent Bruce just such an email a couple of months ago.  He never responded.

For all we know, Satoshi could be Bruce's alter ego, but if he actually reads his emails, he is aware of Bitcoin.

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

- Carroll Quigley, CFR member, mentor to Bill Clinton, from 'Tragedy And Hope'
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February 19, 2011, 04:16:14 PM
 #13

I sent Bruce just such an email a couple of months ago.  He never responded.

For all we know, Satoshi could be Bruce's alter ego, but if he actually reads his emails, he is aware of Bitcoin.

An open letter is more powerful.  Word will get to him that this offer stands.  I would think bitcoin would appeal to him on may levels.  He seems to convey libertarian traits in his writings, and his knowledge of cryptography would fit naturally as well.

EDIT:  Also... what do we have to loose if people get their bitcoins back if he doesn't respond?
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February 19, 2011, 05:48:47 PM
 #14

Frankly, I'm not sure how I feel about this.

I absolutely positively want more scrutiny of both bitcoin's source code and the underlying cryptographic concepts.

However, I don't think offering a token amount of money (even in the form of bitcoins) is appropriate.

A real, professional security review of bitcoin would take a lot of time and a lot of money.  I understand that's not what is being asked, but asking Mr. Schneier to write about bitcoin is really an irrational "Appeal to Authority" -- I think he'd say that any cryptography-related technology is never proven secure, but only gains trust by having multiple people and groups of people look at it, imagine potential attacks, try to attack it, etc.

Or, in other words, if he writes an article about bitcoin now I think the summary would be "interesting new technology, doesn't appear to be a scam, worth keeping an eye on."   I think he'll write that article soon without any prompting from "the bitcoin community," just given the level of buzz bitcoin is generating the last month or two.  I don't think a few hundred bitcoins will motivate him to write the article any sooner.

How often do you get the chance to work on a potentially world-changing project?
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February 19, 2011, 06:00:23 PM
 #15

oh well, withdraw my pledge then.

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mcdett
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February 19, 2011, 07:54:43 PM
 #16

Very fair.  My pledge is withdrawn.


Everyone take care.
mcdett
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February 20, 2011, 03:23:57 AM
 #17

I resubmit my pledge of 100 BTC.

I absolutely positively want more scrutiny of both bitcoin's source code and the underlying cryptographic concepts.

However, I don't think offering a token amount of money (even in the form of bitcoins) is appropriate.

A real, professional security review of bitcoin would take a lot of time and a lot of money.  I understand that's not what is being asked, but asking Mr. Schneier to write about bitcoin is really an irrational "Appeal to Authority" -- I think he'd say that any cryptography-related technology is never proven secure, but only gains trust by having multiple people and groups of people look at it, imagine potential attacks, try to attack it, etc.

Or, in other words, if he writes an article about bitcoin now I think the summary would be "interesting new technology, doesn't appear to be a scam, worth keeping an eye on."   I think he'll write that article soon without any prompting from "the bitcoin community," just given the level of buzz bitcoin is generating the last month or two.  I don't think a few hundred bitcoins will motivate him to write the article any sooner.

The value this has to me is furthering the scientific (applied mathematics) foundation of this concept.  Strengthening that will go along way in increasing the value of the bitcoins I posses (this is largely a selfish matter, but one I believe we have in common).

I understand the cost in USD to do an solid security assessment of the code base (I do this for a living), but my approach to appealing to Mr. Schneier is rooted in that he has to write interesting content all of the time to stay relevant. I believe this is right up his alley.

By offering bitcoins we give Mr. Schneier something to play with during the course of his his analysis, and it has the added benefit of the community taking part in a transaction of value.

Having allies in places Mr. Schneier frequents can only increase the value my bitcoins have.
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February 20, 2011, 03:39:50 AM
 #18

Well giving him some btc to play with to try out the system is quite a bit different than paying him in btc to audit it. It does make sense in terms of making it easy for him to get btc, not having to go through the exchanges etc. But this doesn't require a lot. Your 100btc should be plenty for him to get started with.

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mcdett
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February 20, 2011, 05:36:53 AM
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Well giving him some btc to play with to try out the system is quite a bit different than paying him in btc to audit it. It does make sense in terms of making it easy for him to get btc, not having to go through the exchanges etc. But this doesn't require a lot. Your 100btc should be plenty for him to get started with.

I will run with my pledge alone if need be.  Is there anyone else wiling to sweeten the pot?
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February 22, 2011, 04:46:24 PM
 #20

He's a busy guy. You aren't going to get him until he's bored of Skein anyway...
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