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What is Blockchain?

Numerous plans to develop a sustainable digital currency have been made in the past, but every single one of them has failed. The major reason for this was the issue of trust. If a new digital currency was created, the creators would be able to mint unlimited units of the currency and keep it for themselves alone. Nobody would trust any developer not to abuse their control over any currency they created, and therefore, nobody was willing to use any type of digital currency.

Bitcoin was created to address this issue by utilizing a specific type of database. The majority of the conventional databases prior to the development of Bitcoin like the SQL database were set up to allow human administrators to edit the entries. Blockchain is unique in that no one is in charge; instead, the individuals who utilize it run it. Bitcoins can’t be faked, hacked, or double-spent, so those who own them can be confident that they’re worth something.

A Brief Overview of Blockchain

Blockchain is a distributed, unchangeable ledger that makes recording transactions and managing assets on a network much easier. These assets can be both tangible and intangible. On a blockchain network, practically anything of value may be recorded and traded, lowering risk and lowering expenses for all parties involved.

The Key Elements of Blockchain

Blockchain is a new architecture made up of five major elements that integrate existing technology and methodologies. The five components of blockchain are as follows:

Distribution

Participants in the blockchain network are physically separated from one another and are linked via a network. According to the developers, each participant in charge of a full node keeps a full record of transactions as a copy of the ledger, which is updated when new transactions are made. Participants’ nodes are machines that are owned or operated by them and are capable of running the consensus procedure of the blockchain. Any user can examine at any portion of the ledger, but only under certain conditions can they edit it.

Encryption

Blockchain employs unique innovations to safely and semi-anonymously store the data in the blocks, this protects the information of all the users and allows them to appear as pseudonyms to other users on the network. What’s more, the users have complete control over their personal identification and other information, sharing only what is required in a transaction.

Immutability

All of the transactions completed on the blockchain are signed through encryption, time-stamped, and added to the ledger in chronological order. Records cannot be tampered with or altered unless all participants agree that it is necessary. These kinds of agreements are called “forks”.

Tokenization

On a blockchain, transactions and other activities require the encrypted transfer of value. This value is represented by tokens. The creation of tokens is considered necessary for a variety of reasons as even digital markets are able to work more efficiently. Tokens can also serve as digital representations of tangible assets, a rewards framework to encourage network participants or a tool to promote the production and transfer of new types of value.

Decentralization

The distributed blockchain network’s data and rules for operation are maintained by computers or nodes. In this effect, decentralization means that no single institution is in charge of all computers, information, or rules. Each node contains an encoded copy of the network ledger that is identical. The complete node’s consensus mechanism verifies and authorizes transactions. This decentralized, consensus-driven structure eliminates the need for central authority administration and works as a fail-safe against fraud and fraudulent transactions.

How Blockchain Works

The purpose of blockchain is to enable the recording and distribution of digital data without the capability to change it. In this sense, a blockchain serves as the framework for permanent ledgers, or transaction records that can’t be changed, erased, or destroyed.

Every transaction is logged as a “block” of data as it happens. These transactions depict the transfer of a physical (a product) or intangible asset (intellectual). The block can store any information required

Every block is linked to the ones that came before it and those that came after it. As an asset is transferred from one location to another or acquired by a new owner, these blocks build a data chain. The blocks validate the exact timing and order of transactions, and they are securely linked together to avoid any block from being changed or inserted between two other blocks.

On a blockchain ledger, all of the transactions that have been executed on the network are connected on a permanent chain. Each successive block reinforces the prior block’s verification, and thus the whole blockchain. This eliminates the risk of tampering by a nefarious party and creates a trusted record of transactions for all the network users.

What’s a consensus protocol? (Proof of work vs proof of stake)

Due to the fact that the blockchain network is self-governing and decentralized, it necessitates the deployment of automated protocols to verify that all participating nodes consent on only acceptable transactions. In order to provide a viable service on the blockchain network, these protocols are in important to mitigate harmful activities such as “double spending” operations.

All operation on a blockchain network is controlled by these protocols, which are nothing more than algorithms. Let’s have a look at some of the various consensus methods utilized on the blockchain network.

Proof of Work (PoW) Consensus

Proof of Work was the first consensus protocol implemented in the blockchain network (PoW). It was first developed in the mid-1990s by Cynthia Dwork and Moni Naor, and it was revived in 2008 by Satoshi Nakamoto, the Bitcoin network’s founder.

PoW is a time and energy-intensive protocol wherein the participating nodes process data from the preceding block through a cryptographic hash function on a regular basis. The blocks are represented by a linear structure, with each block consisting of a sequence of transactions.

To overcome its hard cryptographic challenges, PoW uses a specific sort of computer (ASICs), which requires a lot of computing power. Miners work to solve these difficult problems, and the first individual to do it receives Bitcoin. Each transaction is checked and signed using the public and private keys supplied to each user.

A developer who wishes to design apps that require security or node management identification, where users must be recognized, approved, or authenticated before accessing services or systems, should leverage the PoW consensus. This protocol was adopted by Bitcoin, one of the major blockchain networks.

Proof of stake (PoS) Consensus

PoS certifies blocks based on miners’ stake, wherein validators stake a percentage of their money unlike PoW, which confirms blocks using a cryptographic algorithm. PoS chooses these validators at random depending on the amount supplied. The greater the stakes for a validator, the more likely they are to be picked.

The PoS protocol was adopted by Ethereum, one of the major blockchain networks, to enhance network scalability and decrease energy usage. PoS can be used to boost performance, improve security, and validate transactions. Gridlock, Tezos, and Steemare some of the cryptocurrencies that are using the PoS consensus.

Conclusion

Blockchain is finally gaining a reputation for itself, thanks in no small part to the popularity of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, with several practical uses for this innovation already being deployed and researched. Blockchain, which has become an increasingly popular buzzword, promises to make operations in the public and private sector more precise, effective, secure and cost-effective by eliminating middlemen. After more than 10 years of this technology, the question is no longer whether older organizations will adopt this innovation, but rather when. We are currently seeing a rise in asset tokenization through Non-Fungible Tokens, and the applications have been revolutionary. The next few decades will be a critical phase for blockchain

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