Forensic linguists have analysed the Bitcoin paper, which laid theoretical framework for the virtual currency concept, suggesting an American blogger was the real author.
The paper published on the Internet in 2008 was attributed to Satoshi Nakamoto. However, the team of 40 forensic linguistics students from the Aston University, UK, have concluded there were striking similarities between the Bitcoin cryptocurrency paper and the writing of Nick Szabo, a former law professor at George Washington University.
The team compared the writing style used in the bitcoin paper with writing of 11 other individuals who are frequently being associated with the virtual currency network.
“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,” said the project’s leader Jack Grieve, a lecturer in forensic linguistics at Aston University. “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.”
Szabo, an expert in law, finance, cryptography and computer science, created bitcoin’s precursor bit gold in 2008 and was looking for collaborators to move the project another step further, Grieve said.
Analysing the writings, the researchers found out that similarly to Szabo’s articles, the Bitcoin paper frequently works with phrases such as ‘chain of’, ‘trusted third parties’, ‘for our purposes’, ‘need for’, ‘still’, ‘of course’, and others. The Bitcoin paper author, as well as Szabo, also uses a comma before ‘and’ and ‘but’, hyphenation, ‘ly’ adverbs and pronouns ‘we’ and ‘our’ despite writing as a single author.
In total hundreds of documents written by the 11 possible authors were considered, including over 40 academic papers written by Szabo which are available on his personal website.
The study also questioned why the most-cited textual feature of the Bitcoin paper is the fact that it contains double spaces after full stops. The Bitcoin paper was drafted using Latex, an open source document preparation system. Without the base .tex for the Bitcoin paper, which is not available, researchers are unable to tell if the author double spaces between sentences. However, the study noted that Szabo uses Latex for all his publications.
Bitcoin is an Internet-based virtual currency which allows users to buy goods and services online. The payment system, introduced in 2009, is supposedly easier and safer than sending money via more traditional means. Using bitcoin to pay for items also means avoiding credit card, foreign exchange or cash-handling fees.