Elon Computing Sciences

Identifying the Source of an Anonymous Revolution

Robert Menke (Dr. Megan Squire), Department of Computing Sciences

Bitcoin is a new form of currency known as a cryptocurrency. This means that it uses principles
of cryptography to validate and verify transactions rather than relying on trust in a banking
authority. The creator and inventor of Bitcoin is allegedly a man named “Satoshi Nakamoto,” but
nobody has been able to confirm his identity nor speak with him about the revolution he started
in 2008. Numerous groups have attempted to discover his identity by analyzing text from wellknown
cryptographers and using a technique known as text stylometry to see if these individuals
shared common quirks in their writing compared to Satoshi's writing. Others have used time
stamps to try to confirm where in the world he might be located. These attempts have suggested
possible candidates for the creator of Bitcoin, but still no one has been able to confirm the
identity of Satoshi Nakamoto. The focus of our research is to take a slightly different approach to
this problem, while also incorporating some of the techniques used by other groups of
researchers. We will attempt to build a social network of cryptographers using email archives,
compile the written work of Satoshi Nakamoto and other cryptographers, and use other text
mining techniques in order to contribute to research being done in the field about this mysterious
man’s identity. The idea is that a well defined social network of cryptographers will increase the
efficacy of our sentiment analysis by helping us target individuals who have worked with each
other on cryptocurrency projects. Once we’ve established a reliable social network, we will
gather papers, emails, written reports, and code from those individuals and compare their writing
style to the writing style of Satoshi Nakamoto. The goal of our research will be to produce data
sets and analysis examples that can be used by anyone interested in learning about the early
history of Bitcoin or its community of cryptographic software developers.