O'Reilly logo

Mastering Bitcoin, 2nd Edition by Andreas M. Antonopoulos

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

Chapter 2. How Bitcoin Works

Transactions, Blocks, Mining, and the Blockchain

The bitcoin system, unlike traditional banking and payment systems, is based on decentralized trust. Instead of a central trusted authority, in bitcoin, trust is achieved as an emergent property from the interactions of different participants in the bitcoin system. In this chapter, we will examine bitcoin from a high level by tracking a single transaction through the bitcoin system and watch as it becomes “trusted” and accepted by the bitcoin mechanism of distributed consensus and is finally recorded on the blockchain, the distributed ledger of all transactions. Subsequent chapters will delve into the technology behind transactions, the network, and mining.

Bitcoin Overview

In the overview diagram shown in Figure 2-1, we see that the bitcoin system consists of users with wallets containing keys, transactions that are propagated across the network, and miners who produce (through competitive computation) the consensus blockchain, which is the authoritative ledger of all transactions.

Each example in this chapter is based on an actual transaction made on the bitcoin network, simulating the interactions between the users (Joe, Alice, Bob, and Gopesh) by sending funds from one wallet to another. While tracking a transaction through the bitcoin network to the blockchain, we will use a blockchain explorer site to visualize each step. A blockchain explorer is a web application that operates as a bitcoin search ...

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required