Jim Barritt

ThoughtWorks Ltd

Software Delivery (A) 2016
Software Delivery (A)

Session type: Lecture
Session level: Suitable for all

Finding the merkle tree in the block chain forest

You may have heard that “block chain” technology is going to change the world (http://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/12/how-blockchain-technology-could-change-the-world) . This talk will take you behind the scenes to explore what exactly is block chain anyway, from a technical perspective.

Long synopsis: Bitcoin has created a federated, digital currency in which there is no single authority to guarantee transactions – there is no bank. Instead a distributed collection of nodes process transactions and come to a consensus about the truth. The underlying algorithms and patterns that enable bitcoin to be successful have potentially widespread application in the areas of distributed contracts, verification of integrity of data and distributed financial transactions amongst others. This “block chain” technology is fast becoming the latest buzzword in the IT industry, even receiving attention from the the UK governments chief scientific officer on Radio 4 Today Programme (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03fyd3z). The BBC have also published a series focusing on the social and economic impacts of this technology (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b066wfp4). But what is “block chain”, technically? What does it mean to a developer or a person building software? And what are these “Merkle Trees” that seem to play a big part in the story. In this talk, Jim will give an overview of blockchain from a technical perspective, starting with the original paper that was the foundation for bitcoin and discussing some of the component elements, such as Merkle Trees and how they might be applied in different scenarios. Along the way we will also visit related initiatives like google certificate transparency (https://www.certificate-transparency.org/)


Jim is a Technical Principal Consultant working for ThoughtWorks Ltd.  He has worked professionally with code, architecture and agile for over 20 years, the past 11 of which has been at ThoughtWorks as a technical principal consultant and in roles that involve architecture.

He has been involved in many large scale architectures, across a range of industries from financial services, commodities trading and public sector.


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