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What is blockchain? What is the core technology classification of the birth definition of blockchain?

Time : 15/06/2022 Author : 0yr6cq Click : + -
        The earliest recognized description of blockchain can be found in the bitcoin white paper written by Nakamoto Cong, but the definition and concept of blockchain are not clearly put forward in the white paper (mainly discussing the bitcoin system). The term "blockchain" was actually put forward after people summarized it later. Although Nakamoto did not directly put forward the concept of blockchain, bitcoin is indeed the first project to apply blockchain technology. It can be said that blockchain was born with the emergence of bitcoin. Therefore, to talk about the birth of blockchain, we have to start with the history of bitcoin. Everyone knows that bitcoin was proposed by Nakamoto in 2008, but its earlier history may not be clear.
        In fact, a mysterious group played a great role in the birth of bitcoin, and Nakamoto learned a lot from the research results of the community when designing bitcoin. This is "cypherpunk", an exchange group composed of cryptology and computer genius. The members of "cryptopunk" are very famous, including Assange (founder of WikiLeaks), Cohen (inventor of BT download), Berners · Li (the inventor of the World Wide Web) and others, and of course, Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of bitcoin. "Cryptopunk" advocates the use of encryption algorithms to protect personal privacy, opposes the abuse of personal data by governments and companies, and believes in liberalism.
        At the same time, it is also the earliest disseminator of digital currency. In its email group, there are common discussions about digital currency, and some ideas are put into practice. For example, David · JOM, Adam · Baker, Dai Wei, Hal · Finney and others have made a lot of exploration in the field of early digital currency. Bitcoin is not the first attempt at digital currency. According to statistics, before the birth of bitcoin, there were dozens of failed digital currencies or payment systems. It is these explorations that provide a lot of experience for the birth of bitcoin. In the past three decades, cryptocurrency has developed rapidly and experienced many evolutions, including e-cash, hashcash, B-money, etc.
        Davidchaum first proposed e-cash in 1983 and founded digicash in 1989. E-cash is the first anonymous digital cryptocurrency. In 1997, adamback invented hashcash to solve the problem of DoS attack in mail system. Hashcash first proposed proofofwork (POW), which is widely used in blockchain projects in the future. In 1998, weidai proposed B-money, which introduced POW into the generation process of digital currency.
        B-money can be regarded as the pioneer of decentralized digital currency, but unfortunately, it failed to be designed and implemented in the end. These digital currencies above all depend more or less on the credit guarantee of a third-party system, which greatly affects the success or failure of the project. Until the birth of bitcoin in 2008, it combined POW with distributed storage, cryptography, game theory and so on, and realized a decentralized digital currency system in a practical sense for the first time. After the bitcoin project was launched, it attracted a large number of challengers and innovators. It includes a large number of competitive currencies (Shanzhai currencies) and underlying technology platforms (public chains), which will be discussed in later articles.
        As more and more projects adopt bitcoin underlying technology, the words "block" and "chain" are slowly merged into one word: "blockchain". So now everyone uses blockchain to refer to the combination of a series of technologies such as distributed storage, chained data structure, asymmetric encryption, consensus algorithm, P2P network, etc. So what is the exact definition of blockchain? The description given on Wikipedia is quite lengthy. To sum up, blockchain is a distributed database technology. By maintaining the chain structure of data blocks, it can maintain the continuous growth of data records that cannot be tampered with.
        Of course, the author thinks that the definition of Wikipedia is somewhat problematic, because it emphasizes the attribute of blockchain as a database more than its core value, that is, to solve the problem of mutual trust and value transfer among multiple parties in a decentralized way. I think the better definition should be as follows: blockchain is a decentralized value transmission protocol, which verifies and records data through consensus, and has the characteristics of information transparency, traceability and immutability. It is a combination of a series of technologies and is the underlying infrastructure to create trust and transfer value. The core technologies of blockchain include: blockchain data structure, distributed storage, asymmetric encryption, consensus algorithm, P2P network, smart contract, etc.
        It can be simplified and abstracted into a five tier technical architecture. Today, I will briefly explain these core technologies. Later articles will dig into the reasons and values behind the technology. Block chain data structure: store data in blocks with a certain capacity, and each block is divided into two parts: block header and block body (including transaction data). The block head includes the prevhash of the previous block and the random number (nonce) used to calculate the mining difficulty; The block body contains encrypted specific transaction information. The head hash and timestamp connect the head and tail of the block to form a chain structure. Distributed storage: each node in the network can (but not necessarily) choose to store complete data, and update the local data of the node in real time according to the blocking situation.
        It avoids the security and single point of collapse problems caused by centralized storage, and combines the consensus mechanism to ensure the consistency of data. Asymmetric encryption: contains two keys: publickey and privatekey. They exist in pairs. The public key is used to encrypt and verify the data, and the private key is used to decrypt and sign the data; Generally, the public key is public, and the private key is saved by itself. Compared with the traditional symmetric encryption, it is more secure. It is an advanced encryption method, and the common ones are RSA, ECDSA, etc. P2P network: responsible for network transmission and broadcasting of transaction data, node discovery and maintenance.
        There is no concept of client or server in the network, only equal peer nodes, and each node is both a client and a server. The information will be broadcast from the initiating node to the adjacent nodes, and the node that receives the information will forward it, so as to achieve exponential propagation to all network nodes. Consensus algorithm: also known as consensus mechanism, it is mainly used to solve the problem of data consistency and effectiveness of each node. The transaction in the network can be verified through a set of recognized verification methods, and the transaction can take effect only after the verification is passed. At the same time, it is also widely used as a mechanism for issuing tokens. Common algorithms include pow, POS, dpos, pbft and so on.
        Smart contract: refers to a piece of code written on the blockchain. Once an event triggers the terms in the contract, the code will be automatically executed. It guarantees that the participants will fulfill their commitments (transactions) without a third party, and the performance process is completely automatic and irreversible. At present, blockchains can be divided into three categories, namely public chains, alliance chains and private chains. This is divided according to its openness (decentralization), which is also recognized by most people. Public chain: a blockchain that is open to everyone and anyone can participate. It is completely decentralized and is not controlled by any institution. Its application scenarios are very wide. At present, the more mature landing project is digital currency.
        Alliance chain: a blockchain controlled by an alliance composed of multiple organizations or individuals and verified by consensus by designated nodes, which belongs to a polycentric mode. It is mainly used for business flow between multiple institutions in the industry, such as supply chain finance, commodity traceability, etc. Private chain: a blockchain that is completely controlled by an individual or an organization. It belongs to a completely centralized mode. It is mainly used in internal audit, data management and other scenarios. Why did the above three kinds of chains evolve? Here we have to mention the ternary paradox in the field of blockchain (similar to Mundell triangle), that is, blockchain cannot meet the three characteristics of decentralization, security and efficiency at the same time.
        One must be weakened to meet the other two characteristics, and security must be met, so people can only choose between decentralization and efficiency, and gradually differentiate these three types of blockchains. The public chain realizes complete decentralization and security, so its performance is relatively poor; For commercial applications, in order to significantly improve the performance under the premise of security, the alliance chain has to manage nodes through a multi center authorization method to improve the efficiency of consensus and achieve multi center; Considering the characteristics of internal use, the private chain achieves the ultimate safety and efficiency, so it must rely on a single center for processing, realizing complete centralization.
        Of course, with the continuous development of blockchain technology, the ternary paradox may be broken, which is worth looking forward to. Blockchain technology is still in its early stage, and a large number of projects have not really landed, but this wave seems to be unstoppable. Let's take a look at the current and future application scenarios of block chain technology. The following is a summary of seven typical application fields, including finance, logistics, credit investigation and right confirmation, Internet of things, resource sharing, public welfare and charity, and voting and guessing. Financial field: in addition to the current hot digital currency, blockchain has many application scenarios in the financial industry. For example, securities transaction settlement, asset digitization, cross-border payment, crowdfunding investment and mutual insurance, most of these scenarios are to ban intermediaries by using blockchain technology, so as to achieve the core purpose of reducing costs and improving processing efficiency.
        Logistics: it is mainly used in the supply chain. Based on the openness and transparency of blockchain data between trading parties, the supply chain can form a complete and smooth information flow to help all parties involved find problems in the process in time, so as to improve the overall efficiency of supply chain operation. At the same time, using the traceability of blockchain, we can carry out commodity anti-counterfeiting and quality traceability, and combat the problem of counterfeiting and shoddy in the process of commodity circulation. Credit confirmation: using blockchain technology in the field of credit investigation can not only improve the credibility of credit investigation (credit information cannot be tampered with), but also significantly reduce the cost of credit investigation and provide multi-dimensional accurate big data. In addition, blockchain technology can also be used for the management and tracking of property rights, copyrights and other ownership.
        Taking advantage of the characteristics that data cannot be tampered with and forged, ownership transfer and transaction can be carried out freely on the blockchain network. Internet of things: in the current Internet of things environment, all devices need to be connected through cloud servers, which is highly dependent on the centralized network management architecture, and the maintenance cost also increases significantly with the expansion of the scale of the Internet of things network. With blockchain technology, each device in the IOT system can operate as an independent node, and the computing and storage requirements can be distributed to all nodes of the whole network, effectively preventing the failure or attack of any single node in the network, which will bring the risk of the whole network collapse and information leakage.
        In addition, in the industrial Internet of things, it can also dynamically grasp the status of various production and manufacturing equipment in the network, and improve the utilization and maintenance efficiency of equipment. Resource sharing: compared with the resource sharing mode that is still an intermediary (airbnb, Uber, etc.), the blockchain based mode can connect the supplier and demander of resources more directly, and its security, transparency and tamper proof characteristics help to reduce friction. Of course, its efficiency will reduce the user experience in some high-frequency sharing scenarios, but it is very suitable for low-frequency scenarios, such as mutual aid community.
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