Bitcoin Glossary

Block

Blocks are found in the Bitcoin blockchain. Blocks connect all transactions together. Transactions are combined into single blocks and are verified every ten minutes through mining. Each subsequent block strengthens the verification of the previous blocks, making it impossible to double spend bitcoin transactions (see double spend below).

BIP

Bitcoin Improvement Proposal or BIP, is a technical design document providing information to the bitcoin community, or describing a new feature for bitcoin or its processes or environment which affect the Bitcoin protocol. New features, suggestions, and design changes to the protocol should be submitted as a BIP. The BIP author is responsible for building consensus within the community and documenting dissenting opinions.

Blockchain

The Bitcoin blockchain is a public record of all Bitcoin transactions. You might also hear the term used as a “public ledger.” The blockchain shows every single record of bitcoin transactions in order, dating back to the very first one. The entire blockchain can be downloaded and openly reviewed by anyone, or you can use a block explorer to review the blockchain online.

Block Height

The block height is just the number of blocks connected together in the block chain. Height 0 for example refers to the very first block, called the “genesis block.”

Block Reward

When a block is successfully mined on the bitcoin network, there is a block reward that helps incentivize miners to secure the network. The block reward is part of a “coinbase” transaction which may also include transaction fees. The block rewards halves roughly every four years; see also “halving.”

Change

Let’s say you are spending $1.90 in your local supermarket, and you give the cashier $2.00. You will get back .10 cents in change. The same logic applies to bitcoin transactions. Bitcoin transactions are made up of inputs and outputs. When you send bitcoins, you can only send them in a whole “output.” The change is then sent back to the sender.

Cold Storage

The term cold storage is a general term for different ways of securing your bitcoins offline (disconnected from the internet). This would be the opposite of a hot wallet or hosted wallet, which is connected to the web for day-to-day transactions. The purpose of using cold storage is to minimize the chances of your bitcoins being stolen from a malicious hacker and is commonly used for larger sums of bitcoins.

Confirmation

A confirmation means that the bitcoin transaction has been verified by the network, through the process known as mining. Once a transaction is confirmed, it cannot be reversed or double spent. Transactions are included in blocks.

Cryptography

Cryptography is used in multiple places to provide security for the Bitcoin network. Cryptography, which is essentially mathematical and computer science algorithms used to encrypt and decrypt information, is used in bitcoin addresses, hash functions, and the blockchain.

Decentralized

Having a decentralized bitcoin network is a critical aspect. The network is “decentralized,” meaning that it’s void of a centralized company or entity that governs the network. Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer protocol, where all users within the network work and communicate directly with each other, instead of having their funds handled by a middleman, such as a bank or credit card company.

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