Simone Vermeend dived into Blockchain about a year ago, feeling pretty lost. After an intensive weekend of study, she felt lost even more. Not feeling demotivated by it, she set out to write the first Dutch book explaining the phenomena called Blockchain.
What problem does Blockchain solve? The internet introduced easy sharing and copying files, resulting in a revolution in efficiency. For values or transactions, copying and sharing is of course not the way to go. Assets can only be spent once. So for digital currencies, internet’s easy sharing is very useful, easy copying not so much. Blockchain makes sure this ‘double spending’ problem is tactfully mitigated. Simone used 4 building blocks to explain Blockchain. First of all, Cryptographic security, the mathematical way of securing your system. Second is the gathering of transactions in Blocks.
Furthermore, the blocks are interlinked into a chain, thats why block-chain. Finally, information is replicated through the network. Everyone keeps a full history of all transactions, so everyone is able to check whether transactions add up.
In the presentation, various key words are discussed and put together to explain the wonders of blockchains. One of the most interesting keywords of the talk is hashing. It is also the most difficult to grasp.
A hash functions transforms a piece of information, a message, into a summary. A summary has 2 distinct features; it is short, and it leaves out information. For example, A fingerprint is a summary of a person. Without describing everything about this person, it can still be linked to only 1 person. Also, given the fingerprint, one cannot distinguish whether the person is male/female, whether tall or short, or preferring Bitcoin or Ethereum. It so omits information. The fingerprint is unique to this person but does reveal the identity of the person, changing the person a tiny bit will change the fingerprint entirely.
These two features have a useful result; it is easy to check which fingerprint the person has, but very hard to find the right person to a found fingerprint (that’s why policemen have difficulty solving crimes). Difficult to find, but easy to check! A hash function is a one-way function; the private key is ‘hashed’ to make the public key, which is the fingerprint of the private key, your identity. The public key will be your address, and the private key is your ‘password’.
Blockchain is new and revolutionary. Nothing is sure except the fact that a lot will go wrong. It is a new technology able to disrupt and fix. Experiment with it and lets see where