Blockchain Technology Glossary

Blockchain Technology Terminology GlossaryOne of the most important components of becoming a consistent and profitable investor is thorough education (also called due diligence) of your target investment market.

Our Blockchain Investment Glossary can help you learn some of the most commonly used terminology in the blockchain technology industry.

This glossary is a complete blockchain 101 guide to help you understand this new technology by explaining commonly used terms and their meanings.

Address (used in a Cryptocurrency application) Definition

Addresses (Cryptocurrency addresses) are used to receive and send transactions on the network. An address is a string of alphanumeric characters, but can also be represented as a scannable QR code.

Attestation Ledger (used in a Distributed Ledger application) Definition

A distributed ledger providing a durable record of agreements, commitments or statements, providing evidence (attestation) that these agreements, commitments or statements were made.

ASIC (used in Cryptocurrency Mining application) Definition

ASIC is an acronym for “Application Specific Integrated Circuit”. ASICs are silicon chips specifically designed to do a single task. In the case of bitcoin, they are designed to process SHA-256 hashing problems to mine new bitcoins.

Bitcoin (uppercase) Cryptocurrency Definition

The well known cryptocurrency, based on the proof-of-work blockchain. The currency code for Bitcoin is BTC. Since it’s original inception, several different variations of Bitcoin has emerged. This original version of Bitcoin is also called “Bitcoin Classic”.

bitcoin (lowercase) Definition

The specific collection of technologies used by Bitcoin’s ledger, a particular solution. Note that the currency is itself one of these technologies, as it provides the miners with the incentive to mine.

Bitcoin Cash Cryptocurrency Definition

Bitcoin cash is a cryptocurrency created in August 2017, arising from a fork of Bitcoin Classic. Bitcoin Cash increases the size of blocks, allowing more transactions to be processed.

Blockchain Definition

A blockchain is a type of distributed ledger, comprised of unchangeable, digitally recorded data in packages called blocks (rather like collating them on to a single sheet of paper).

Each block is then ‘chained’ to the next block, using a cryptographic signature. This allows block chains to be used like a ledger, which can be shared and accessed by anyone with the appropriate permissions.

Block Height (in a Blockchain application) Definition

Block height refers to the number of blocks connected together in the block chain. For example, Height 0, would be the very first block, which is also called the Genesis Block.

Block Reward (used in a Blockchain and Cryptocurrency application) Definition

The reward given to a miner which has successfully hashed a transaction block. Block rewards can be a mixture of coins and transaction fees, depending on the policy used by the cryptocurrency in question, and whether all of the coins have already been successfully mined. The current block reward for the Bitcoin network is 25 bitcoins for each block.

Central Ledger Definition

A central ledger refers to a ledger, in a distributed ledger environment, that is maintained by a central agency.

coinbase Defintion

Not to be confused with the digital asset startup Coinbase, which is a hosted digital wallet and exchange, lowercase coinbase, refers to the transaction inside a block that pays the miner his/her block reward.

Confirmation (in a Blockchain application) Definition

A confirmation means that the blockchain transaction has been verified by the network. This happens through a process known as mining, in a proof-of-work system (e.g. Bitcoin). Once a transaction is confirmed, it cannot be reversed or double spent. The more confirmations a transaction has, the harder it becomes to perform a double spend attack.

Consensus Process (in a Distributed Ledger application) Definition

The process a group of peers responsible for maintaining a distributed ledger use to reach consensus on the ledger’s contents.

Consensus Point (in a Distributed Ledger application) Definition

The process a group of peers responsible for maintaining a distributed ledger use to reach consensus on the ledger’s contents.

Cryptocurrency Definition

A form of digital currency based on mathematics, where encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds. Furthermore, cryptocurrencies operate independently of a central bank.

Digital Commodity Definition

A digital commodity is a scarce, electronically transferrable, intangible, with a market value.

Digital Identity Definition

A digital identity is an online or networked identity adopted or claimed in cyberspace by an individual, organization, or electronic device.

Distributed Ledger Definition

Distributed ledgers are a type of database that are spread across multiple sites, countries or institutions. Records are stored one after the other in a continuous ledger. Distributed ledger data can be either “permissioned” or “un-permissioned” to control who can view it.

Difficulty (in a Blockchain, Proof-of-Work Mining application)

Difficulty, in Proof-of-Work mining, is how hard it is to verify blocks in a blockchain network. In the Bitcoin (BTC) network, the difficulty of mining adjusts verifying blocks every 2016 blocks. This is to keep block verification time at ten minutes.

Double Spend Definition

Double spend refers to a scenario, in the Bitcoin network, where someone tries to send a bitcoin transaction to two different recipients at the same time. However, once a bitcoin transaction is confirmed, it makes it nearly impossible to double spend it. The more confirmations that a particular transaction has, the harder it becomes to double spend the bitcoins.

Ether (in a Cryptocurrency application) Definition

Ether is a cryptocurrency whose blockchain is generated by the Ethereum platform.

Ethereum Definition

Ethereum is an open-source, public, blockchain-based distributed computing platform and operating system featuring smart contract (scripting) functionality. It supports a modified version of the same consensus methodology found in Bitcoin via transaction-based state transitions.

Fiat Currency

Fiat currency is legal tender whose value is backed by the government that issued it. The U.S. dollar is fiat money, as are the euro and many other major world currencies.

Genesis Block Definition

The very first block in a blockchain.

Halving Definition

Bitcoins have a finite supply, which makes them a scarce digital commodity. The total amount of bitcoins that will ever be issued is 21 million. The number of bitcoins generated per block is decreased 50% every four years. This is called “halving.” The final halving will take place in the year 2140.

Hashrate Definition

The number of hashes that can be performed by a blockchain miner in a given period of time (usually measured in seconds or minutes).

Initial Coin Offering (ICO) Definition

An Initial Coin Offering (also called an ICO) is an event in which a new cryptocurrency sells advance tokens from its overall coinbase, in exchange for upfront capital. ICOs are frequently used for developers of a new cryptocurrency to raise capital.

Litecoin Definition

A peer-to-peer cryptocurrency based on the Scrypt proof-of-work network. Sometimes referred to as the silver of bitcoin’s gold.

Mining (in a Blockchain and Cryptocurrency application) Definition

The process by which transactions are verified and added to a blockchain. This process of solving cryptographic problems using computing hardware also triggers the release of cryptocurrencies.

Multi Signature Definition

Multi-signature (multisig) addresses allow multiple parties to require more than one key to authorize a transaction. The needed number of signatures is agreed at the creation of the address. Multi signature addresses have a much greater resistance to theft.

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Definition

Peer-to-peer (P2P) refers to the decentralized interactions that happen between at least two parties in a highly interconnected network. P2P participants deal directly with each other through a single mediation point.

Permissioned Ledger

A permissioned ledger is a ledger where actors must have permission to access the ledger. Permissioned ledgers may have one or many owners. When a new record is added, the ledger’s integrity is checked by a limited consensus process. This is carried out by trusted actors — government departments or banks, for example — which makes maintaining a shared record much simpler that the consensus process used by un-permissioned ledgers. Permissioned block chains provide highly-verifiable data sets because the consensus process creates a digital signature, which can be seen by all parties. A permissioned ledger is usually faster than an un-permissioned ledger.

Private Currency Definition

A currency issued by a private individual, firm, or entity; typically secured against uninsured assets.

Private Key (in a Cryptocurrency application) Definition

A private key is a string of data that shows you have access to bitcoins in a specific wallet. Private keys can be thought of as a password; private keys must never be revealed to anyone but you, as they allow you to spend the bitcoins from your bitcoin wallet through a cryptographic signature.

Proof-of-Stake Definition

An alternative to the proof-of-work system, in which your existing stake in a cryptocurrency (the amount of that currency that you hold) is used to calculate the amount of that currency that you can mine.

Proof-of-Work Definition

A system that ties mining capability to computational power. Blocks must be hashed, which is in itself an easy computational process, but an additional variable is added to the hashing process to make it more difficult. When a block is successfully hashed, the hashing must have taken some time and computational effort. Thus, a hashed block is considered proof of work.

Ripple Definition

A payment network built on distributed ledgers that can be used to transfer any currency. The network consists of payment nodes and gateways operated by authorities. Payments are made using a series of IOUs, and the network is based on trust relationships.

Scrypt Definition

An alternative proof of work system to SHA-256, designed to be particularly friendly to CPU and GPU miners, while offering little advantage to ASIC miners.

SHA 256 Definition

The cryptographic function used as the basis for bitcoin’s proof of work system.

Smart Contract Definition

Smart contracts are contracts whose terms are recorded in a computer language instead of legal language. Smart contracts can be automatically executed by a computing system, such as a suitable distributed ledger system.

Transaction Block Definition

A collection of transactions on the bitcoin network, gathered into a block that can then be hashed and added to the blockchain.

Transaction Fee (in a Blockchain application) Definition

A small fee imposed on some transactions sent across the bitcoin network. The transaction fee is awarded to the miner that successfully hashes the block containing the relevant transaction.

Un-Permissioned Ledger

Un-permissioned ledgers such as Bitcoin have no single owner — indeed, they cannot be owned. The purpose of an un-permissioned ledger is to allow anyone to contribute data to the ledger and for everyone in possession of the ledger to have identical copies. This creates censorship resistance, which means that no actor can prevent a transaction from being added to the ledger. Participants maintain the integrity of the ledger by reaching a consensus about its state.

Latest Stories