Nick Szabo most likely author of Bitcoin paper, says new linguistics study

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The most likely author of the famous Bitcoin paper is cryptography expert Nick Szabo, according to a new comprehensive forensic linguistics analysis led by Dr. Jack Grieve at Aston University’s Centre for Forensic Linguistics.

Nicknamed “Project Bitcoin,” the study examined similarities in linguistic styles between the Satoshi Nakamoto Bitcoin paper and the writings of 11 people who are commonly speculated to be authors of the paper.

“The number of linguistic similarities between Szabo’s writing and the Bitcoin paper is uncanny, none of the other possible authors were anywhere near as good of a match. We are pretty confident that out of the list of people regularly referred to as possibilities, Nick Szabo is the main author of the paper, though we can’t rule out the possibility that others contributed,” said Dr. Grieve.

“Our study adds to the weight of evidence pointing towards Nick Szabo. The case looks pretty clear-cut. Szabo is an expert in law, finance, cryptography and computer science. Did Nick Szabo create Bitcoin? We’re not sure, but we think he probably wrote the paper so it’s certainly worth a closer look.”

The team of students and researchers examined the writings of Dorian S. Nakamoto, Vili Lehdonvirta, Michael Clear, Shinichi Mochizuki, Gavin Andresen, Nick Szabo, Jed McCaleb, Dustin D. Trammel, Hal Finney, Wei Dai, Neal King, Vladimir Oksman and Charles Bry. Hundreds of documents were inspected, 40 of which were academic papers written by Szabo, and can be found on his website.

According to the study:

“The results showed that of the eleven Szabo is by far the closest match, with a large number of distinctive linguistic traits appearing in both the Bitcoin paper and Szabo’s blogs and other writings. This includes the use of: the phrases “chain of…”, “trusted third parties”, “for our purposes”, “need for…”, “still”, “of course”, “as long as”, “such as” and “only” numerous times, contractions, commas before ‘and’ and ‘but’, hyphenation, ‘-ly’ adverbs, the pronouns ‘we’ and ‘our’ in papers by a single author; fragmented sentences following colons and reflexive (-self) pronouns.”

Also noted is the use of the same document preparation software, Latex. The original Bitcoin paper was drafted in the software, and Szabo uses Latex to write all of his publications.

Another interesting bit of information connecting Szabo to digital currencies is that between 1998 and 2005 he developed a proposal for a digital currency called bit gold. It involved a decentralized system of “unforgeable chains of proofs of work” which, apart from the name itself, bears striking resemblance to aspects of Bitcoin.

As found in the Satoshi Nakamoto Bitcoin paper, Szabo emphasized what he believes to be the underlying core problem with the current monetary system: that it depends on trust in a third party for its value.

While this isn’t the first time that Szabo has been fingered as the creator of Bitcoin, it certainly lends more credibility to the claim.

Coinbuzz

CoinBuzz provides news and analysis on Bitcoin and other digital currencies. Founded in 2014, the site has quickly become a leading source of information on digital currency technologies, businesses, markets, and regulation.

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