Since the advent of the internet, programmers have been trying to figure out how to create a [digital] world in which people anywhere - even complete strangers - can transact directly with one another safely and efficiently. In essence, they have been trying to recreate the bedrock of civilization: an orderly system of bookkeeping that allows people to trust each other's claims about what they own, what they owe, and what they are owed. For most of the digital age, this “trust” has been facilitated by third parties such as banks, governments, or credible companies that are willing to guarantee that a transaction is valid and secure. But transactions via third parties are slow and expensive, and they cannot be verified by just anyone, which opens the door to fraud and theft.
Today, the notion of a secure and trusted third party in a digital world isn't purely mythical. And in fact, it's exactly what blockchain technology embodies in a kind of magical way. In this course, you will explore the mechanics of blockchain technology and how the blockchain acts like a trusted third party. To do this, Professor Ari Juels will design a theoretical cryptocurrency from scratch to illustrate how Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies make use of the blockchain to transfer value from person to person. Then, once you understand how the blockchain acts as a trusted ledger, you will practice articulating other transformative ways in which blockchains can change how commercial and interpersonal connections happen online.
Cryptography has been around for thousands of years and is at the heart of digital communications today. Most people rely on cryptography on a daily basis without even knowing it; most popular messaging apps use encryption to ensure the security of messaging between two people. Blockchain technology, in a similar way, relies on cryptography to protect the identity of those sending and receiving messages and ensures that all information and transactions are secure and legitimate. Thus, to really understand blockchain technology, you have to understand the core principles of cryptography.
This course will walk you through the basics of cryptography: how information has historically been disguised (encrypted) and revealed (decrypted) using mathematics. You will see how a message can be turned into a number, and how that number can be encrypted and decrypted by two complete strangers. You will practice encrypting your own message to understand the basics of what makes a good encryption scheme. Then, you will delve deeper into the specific type of cryptography used in blockchain technology -- public key cryptography - and the promises and limitations it has in carrying out the core functions of a blockchain. You will create your own theoretical gold exchange in order to more fully understand how you can send anything to anyone around the world without a middleman. Ultimately you will know exactly how information on the blockchain is secured, legitimized, and authenticated without needing a third party to verify it.The course Cryptocurrencies and Ledgers is required to be completed prior to starting this course.
Whether you need to tackle a complex project, communicate more effectively, rethink your organization or your job, solve world hunger, or figure out your teenager, systems thinking can help you. All of these are complex and challenging real-world problems, sometimes called wicked problems. We all confront problems, big and small, in our personal and professional lives, and most of us are searching for better ways to solve them. In this course, Professors Derek and Laura Cabrera will demonstrate how we can use systems thinking to solve everyday and wicked problems, to transform our organizations, and to increase our personal effectiveness.
At its core, systems thinking attempts to better align the way we think with how the real world works. Our thinking is based on our mental models, but these models, created from our unique perspective with its inherent biases, are usually inadequate representations of reality. The Cabreras illustrate how we can use feedback to recognize and adapt our mental models so that they better align with reality, enhancing our problem-solving capabilities.
For systems thinking to be successful, it must be adaptive. In this course, you will explore the concept of complex adaptive systems, and while these systems seem unnecessarily complicated, the Cabreras will reveal a surprising discovery. Underlying all complex adaptive systems are simple rules, and applying these rules is the key to transforming the way we frame and solve everyday problems.
For organizations to succeed, they need to develop individuals who are constantly learning and adapting according to information on the ground. Sharing key mental models—at the organizational, team, and individual levels—is critical to creating a culture of learning that enables the organization to survive and thrive through chaos and complexity.
In this course, Professors Derek and Laura Cabrera demonstrate how to become a systems leader; that is, someone who can use systems thinking at the organizational level, at the team level, and at the individual level. You will create a culture for your organization that is built on shared mental models and develop techniques to incentivize thought leaders to support the culture based on your vision, mission, capacity, and learning. At the team level, where the real work of the organization gets done, you will explore the process of building, sharing and evolving mental models through collaborative mapping and feedback processes. And finally, you will turn your own thinking into doing, to ensure that your actions are aligned with key organizational mental models. With tools, techniques, and expert guidance, you can begin to implement systems thinking at all levels of the organization, creating teams and individuals upon which organizational culture, values, and success are built.
When your audience can quickly and efficiently understand what the data is telling them without having to scour every row and column, they can gain insights from your analysis more efficiently. In this course, you will apply the power of Excel pivot tables to see your data from multiple perspectives, use data visualization techniques that effectively communicate your analysis to your audience, create charts that quickly and clearly visualize your analysis, and apply the principles of graphical integrity to your charts.
In order to execute the most informed business analyses, we need the right tools for making predictions from data. Excel provides powerful predictive analytic tools that let the user forecast trends and make predictions with historical data.
In this course, you will conduct financial analyses by comparing loan scenarios using financial functions, identifying what values are needed to achieve a desired result, and quickly identifying how changes in your data will impact outcomes. You will leave this course with the ability to leverage reliable historical data to generate simulations and make predictions.