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Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/100239928@N08/

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/100239928@N08/

Student researchers at the U.K.’s Aston University Centre for Forensic Linguistics have released a new analysis of the bitcoin whitepaper written by the seemingly pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto. Their conclusion? Bitcoin’s “probable creator” law and technology blogger Nick Szabo.

The study compared the writing styles and language use of more than a dozen potential authors, including Szabo, Mt.Gox founder Jed McCaleb, early code contributor Hal Finney, bitcoin developer Gavin Andresen, and Newsweek‘s dubious candidate Dorian Nakamoto. The analysis found that Szabo’s writing was the best match for the known works of Satoshi Nakamoto.

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.

The Aston University analysis is not the first paper to claim Szabo is the real creator of bitcoin. Last year, researcher Skye Grey reached the same conclusion.

There is reason to doubt that Szabo is the sole creator of bitcoin, however. Although he is a well-known technology and law writer, Szabo’s background in programming is less established. In his own denial about being the creator of bitcoin, early code collaborator Hal Finney suggested that Satoshi Nakamoto was a master programmer.

Then there is the language Bitcoin was written in, C++. Satoshi was a master of the intricacies, and I’ve only seen this in young programmers. It seems hard to master C++ if you didn’t learn it while you’re young. … I program in C, which is compatible with C++, but I don’t understand the tricks that Satoshi used.

It’s also worth noting that Szabo’s history has some interesting mythology to it. Szabo is often credited as a “George Washington University law professor,” but in fact-checking the Aston University analysis the Wall Street Journal found that this was untrue. “George Washington University says that despite widespread reports that Mr. Szabo worked as a law professor at the school, it has no records of his ever working there in that capacity. The university did confirm, though, that he received a law degree from the school in 2006.”

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