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An accidental Fork may occur when two or more miners find a block almost simultaneously. One chain then becomes longer than the other and the network eventually ignores the blocks that are not in the longer chain. These blocks are then classified as ‘orphaned blocks’.
Addresses (Cryptocurrency addresses) are used to send and receive transactions on the network. A wallet address or public key is a string of alphanumeric characters that can be shared publicly and even represented as a QR code.
Altcoin is simply any digital currency other than Bitcoin. Many alt-coins are forks of Bitcoin with minor changes (e.g. Lite-coin).
Is an acronym for Application Programming Interface, a software intermediary that helps two separate applications to communicate with each other. They define methods of communication between various components.
Is an acronym for “Application Specific Integrated Circuit”. ASICs are silicon chips specifically designed to perform a single task. In the case of bitcoin, they are designed to process SHA-256 hashing algorithms to mine new bitcoins. They are specifically designed to perform hashes as fast as possible as to increase mining revenue.
Authentication is the basis of the security of any system, which consists of verifying the authenticity of user data by the server. It is not the same as identification and authorization. Two-factor authentication (also known as 2FA, or two-step verification) is a very important layer of protection that you can apply to keep your data safe. Even strong passwords can be cracked or declassified by a remote attacker. However, if you have 2FA, the person who receives your password will not be able to access your data because they will also need your 2FA code. Unlike a password, the 2FA code changes every time you try to log in and can only be obtained from your mobile device. 2FA activation serves as an incredibly useful deterrent to network attacks, which means your data will no longer be an easy target for unauthorized access.
Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer network that enables a new payment system and a decentralized digital currency based on participants consensus. The network consists of the identical copy of a digital file, listing accounts as a distributed ledger that is maintained on every computer on the network. Simply put, Bitcoin is a network of independent computers that create, communicate and validate transactions. Bitcoin was created in 2009 by an unknown inventor with the pseudonym Satoshi Nakomoto. The technology is outlined by the white paper titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”. (https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf)
bitcoin (lowercase) - BTC
“bitcoin” is written in the lower case when referring to a quantity of the currency or the units themselves. The plural form can be both bitcoin or bitcoins. BTC is also a common abbreviation for currency.
BlockA set of information (data) containing multiple transactions over a given period.
A kind of distributed digital ledger to which data is recorded sequentially and permanently in ’blocks’. Each new block is linked to its preceding block with a cryptographic link, forming a ‘chain’. This tamper-proof self-validation of the information permits transactions to be processed and recorded to the chain without having to rely on a third-party certification agent. The ledger is not hosted in one place or managed by a single entity but is shared and accessed by anyone with the appropriate permissions – hence ‘distributed’.
Block height refers to the number of blocks that are connected in the blockchain. Height 0 is the very first block and is also called the Genesis Block. Currently, the Bitcoin blockchain counts more than 620,000 blocks with more than a decade of uninterrupted up-time since launch on 3rd January 2009.
The reward provided to a miner which has successfully hashed a block of transactions. Block rewards may be a combination of mining fees and transaction fees, depending on the incentive mechanism used, and whether all the coins have already been successfully mined. Currently, the mining reward for the Bitcoin network is 12,5 bitcoins for each block. The Bitcoin block mining reward halves every 210,000 blocks, and with the next halving expected in May 2020, the coin reward will decrease from 12.5 to 6.25 coins.
Byzantine Generals Problem
The Byzantine Generals Problem is a term from the computer science describing a situation where involved parties must agree on a concerted strategy in order to avoid catastrophic failure of the system, but some of these actors are unreliable. In a Byzantine fault, a component such as a server can appear both failed and functioning to failure-detection systems at the same time, thus presenting different symptoms to different observers. It is difficult for the other components to declare it failed and shut it out of the network, because they need to first reach an agreement or a consensus as to which component has failed in the first place. Byzantine fault tolerance (BFT) is a measure of a system’s availability, reliability and security to such conditions.
Also known as Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO). “DAO” is a concept that can have several different applications/organizations. The DAO was as a specific instance of investor-directed venture capital fund with the goal to provide enterprise with new decentralized business models both for commercial and non-profit purposes. Built on the Ethereum blockchain, the DAO’s code was open source and set the record for the most crowdfunded project in 2016. It was intended to operate as a hub that funded projects. However, those funds were partially stolen by users exploiting a vulnerability, causing an Ethereum hard fork that created Ethereum Classic.
The process by which the actions of an organization, particularly those regarding planning and decision making, are distributed or delegated away from a centralized organization, government, or party to a distributed network.
An open-source, trust-less software program with the backend code running on a decentralized peer-to-peer network rather than on a centralized server. dApp means decentralized application. This could be any smart contract deployed on the Ethereum blockchain, as they all operate in an autonomous or decentralized manner.
A digital identity is an online identity, or a set of attributes related to an entity, adopted or claimed in cyberspace by an individual, organization, or electronic device. The information contained in a digital identity allows for examination and authentication of a user interacting with a business system on the web, without involving human operators. Digital identities allow automated access to computers and the services and enable computers to mediate relationships.
A digital signature is a mathematical scheme for verifying the authenticity of digital messages or documents. Generated by way of public key encryption, a digital signature is a code connected to an electronically transmitted record to verify its contents.
Difficulty, in Proof-of-Work mining, is a measure of how hard it is to verify blocks in a blockchain network. In the Bitcoin network, the difficulty of mining adjusts verifying blocks every 2016 blocks, with the target of having the block verification time at ten minutes.
A distributed ledger is a data set / structure that is formed with consensus and is spread across multiple sites, countries or institutions. It lacks a central administrator or a centralized data storage while records are stored sequentially in a continuous ledger. A type of distributed ledger design is the blockchain system.
Double spend refers to a potential flaw in a digital currency in which the same single digital token can be spent more than once. Once a bitcoin transaction is confirmed, it is nearly impossible to double spend it or reverse the transaction. The more confirmations that a particular transaction has, the harder it becomes to double spend the bitcoins.
Ether - ETH
Ether is an essential element (eg native currency) of the Ethereum Blockchain network and constitutes a medium of incentive. Ether is the fuel of the Ethereum ecosystem as it provides a form of payment for the network participants to execute their requested operations on the network.
An open-source, public, blockchain-based distributed computing platform and operating system with smart contract functionality. Its structure is running remotely on the Ethereum Virtual Machine. It makes use of ‘ether’, a cryptocurrency, as its token and supports the storage and execution of smart contracts. Developers can build and run decentralized apps that contribute to the value of the Ethereum ecosystem.
EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine)
The Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) is the runtime environment for smart contracts in Ethereum. It is the fundamental consensus mechanism designed to prevent denial-of-service attacks on Ethereum. Virtual machines are building a layer of detachment between the executing code and the executing machine. This layer is required to make the portable software, as well as to make sure applications are separate from each other, and isolated from their host. All Ethereum nodes run on the EVM, which is home to smart contracts based on the Ethereum blockchain.
A marketplace to buy and sell assets such as cryptocurrencies and digital assets. The exchange charges fees in most cases for transactions, withdrawals, or deposits. There are centralized exchanges for cryptocurrency like Coinbase, Kraken or Bitstamp and there are decentralized exchanges that do not have a central authority, like IDEX, Kyber Network and Bancor Network.
The term fiat derives from the Latin fiat (“let it be done”) and is used in the sense of an order, decree or resolution. Examples include the US Dollar, the Euro, the Chinese Yuan, the British Sterling and the Japanese Yen.
Generally means a type of software upgrade which is done in such a way that it can be backward-compatible (soft fork) or cannot be backward-compatible (hard fork). A fork refers to a split in the network because of conflicts in the following rules resulting in two networks. Forks can be either accidental or intentional.
Fungible means that a specific good is identical among its various units. An example of a fungible token is bitcoin. One bitcoin is and will always be one bitcoin, identical to others in the network. Some other tokens, however, can be non-fungible, meaning that these tokens can have unique characteristics. These tokens are non-fungible, as in they have slightly different properties.
Gas is the cost that the Ethereum network charges to process a transaction. It is a method to measure computational steps necessary for a transaction on the Ethereum network that then translates to a fee for network users. More intensive actions require more gas and this acts as an anti-spam measure to ensure the network is not clogged.
Is the name of the first block of Bitcoin ever mined or the very first block in a block chain. The genesis block of Bitcoin was created on January 3, 2009 when it marked the birth of the Bitcoin blockchain. On the Bitcoin genesis block quotes the headline of the New York Times the day it was created: “03 / Jan / 2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks”, indicating the intent behind what Satoshi Nakamoto had just created.
The number of bitcoins generated every block is cut in half every four years, and is referred to as “halving.” Bitcoins have a limited supply making them a scarce digital commodity, as the total amount of bitcoins that will ever be is 21 million. In the beginning, each bitcoin block reward was worth 50 BTC and is halved every 210,000 blocks, which takes place approximately four years. Currently, a block reward is worth 12.5 BTC as already two “halvings” have taken place.
A change in the rules of the validation process that makes the blocks validated according to the new rules incompatible and invalid, unless all nodes upgrade their software to work with the new rules. It creates a chain split in which an upgrade of the network makes miners and nodes to choose between the upgraded network or the legacy version of the network. Both networks will function separately from there on and will no longer interact with each other. A miner can only use its resources to work on one of the chains, not both. In a hard fork, the history of the blockchain up until that point has been copied and adjusted by the upgraded network, resulting in two different chains and two different cryptocurrencies.
A hardware wallet is a special kind of wallet that keeps the user’s private keys secure. The major advantage over standard software wallets is that the private keys cannot be transferred out of the device in plain text. In this sense, a hardware wallet cannot be hacked like a software wallet can, as they remove the process of having to load the private key in wallet import format to some software which is exposed to online vulnerabilities. These hardware wallets provide another form of cold storage just like a paper wallet.
The outcome of applying an algorithmic function to information in order to convert them into a random string of numbers and letters. This acts as a digital fingerprint of that information.
A mathematical function that collects a group of characters called key, and maps it to a value of a certain length called hash value or hash. The input to the hash function is of arbitrary length but output can only be of fixed length. A small change in the input drastically changes the output.
A hash is a function that converts one value to another. It is the procedure of repeatedly inserting a random string of digits into a hashing formula until finding a desirable output.
The speed at which a computer can take any set of information and convert it into letters and numbers of a specific length. Simply put, a hash rate is defined as the speed at which a mining hardware operates. Read more about it in our article.
Is a software allowing a cryptocurrency owner to send and receive digital assets. It refers to a wallet that is always directly connected to the internet. Overall, hot wallets are easier to setup, access and usually accept more tokens. However, hot wallets are considered to have lower security than a cold storage system or hardware wallet. When a wallet is online, its data is more vulnerable to hackers and / or malicious entities.
An umbrella project set up by the Linux Foundation providing an array of tools and systems for building open-source blockchains. Hyperledger is an open-source collaborative effort with the aim to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies. It is a platform that unifies companies and developers to coordinate and construct blockchain frameworks throughout several industries. The Hyperledger initiative has over 100 members, including companies like IBM, Wells Fargo, Samsung, American Express and BNP Paribas.
Not subject or susceptible to change. Public blockchains are considered immutable (or tamper-resistant) since no one can modify or delete existing entries.
Initial Coin Offering (ICO)
An Initial Coin Offering (also called an ICO) is a crowdfunding method in which a new blockchain-related project may sell in advance tokens, in exchange for upfront funding. ICOs may be used for developers of a new project to raise capital, but have been scrutinized as they were also a laying ground for exit scams and pump’n’dump schemes.
Initial Token Offering (ITO)
Initial Token Offerings are like ICOs (initial coin offerings), but different in that not every blockchain project that is tokenized has developed a new coin or token. A project built on the Ethereum network that is tokenized using ETH would be considered an ITO, as the project isn’t launching a new coin but just a new application on an already existing network.
Helps to reverse and repair the damages related to hacking or a catastrophic bug on a blockchain, by modifying the rules of the blockchain.
InterPlanetary File System (IPFS)
Is a distribution protocol that started as an open source project at Interplanetary Networks, and a peer-to-peer network for storing and sharing data in a distributed file system. It aims to help applications run faster, safer and with more transparency. IPFS allows information to be exchanged and interact without a single point of failure, while creating trust-less node interrelations.
An account book of final entry, in which commercial transactions are recorded. In computer systems, a ledger refers to interlinked digital files that follow the same accounting principles as the manual system.
The lightning network is a Layer 2 solution, that resides on top of the Bitcoin blockchain, which enables faster transaction processing by using payment channels. A payment channel can be initiated between peers (parties) and registers all transactions between these parties without sending them all straight to the actual blockchain (off-chain transactions). When a payment channel is closed, all transactions are then settled with each other and the outcome of all transactions is transmitted to the actual blockchain, where the transactions are recorded on-chain.
The ease and speed with which an asset or security can be traded in the market without materially affecting its price.
Litecoin - LTC
Litecoin is a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency and open-source software project founded by Charlie Lee on the 7th of October 2011. It is based on the Scrypt proof-of-work network and is sometimes referred to as the silver to bitcoin’s gold. Litecoin is an early altcoin and a fork of the Bitcoin Core client, differing primarily by having a decreased block generation time of 2.5 minutes, a maximum number of 84 million coins, a different hashing algorithm (Scrypt, instead of SHA-256) and a block halving every 840,000 blocks.
Market capitalization is a measure of the value of an asset. It may be calculated by multiplying the number of outstanding coins / tokens by the current price.
Generally refers to the concept of a highly immersive virtual world where people gather to socialize, play, and work. the Metaverse is the virtual alternative to our physical universe and may be the next version of the internet. NFTs potential in the Metaverse reinvents the ways assets can be bought, sold, or traded without real-world constraints such as raw resource limits or supply chain risks.
In cryptography and computer science, a hash tree or a Merkle tree is the basic concept of aggregating hashes into a single hash. Hashes are created from data and then combined with other hashes to create new, overarching hashes. Merkle tress make hashing more efficient by representing all transactions with a single hash which included in the header of the block. Then we only need to hash the header rather than the block.
The process by which transactions for various forms of cryptocurrency are verified and added to a blockchain. Mining is the process of solving the Proof of Work problem and sending the solution to other nodes for verification. It triggers the release of cryptocurrencies, referred to as mining rewards.
Bitcoin mining rewards people who deploy hardware and energy to sustain the network by running mining operations with more bitcoins. A miner is a node on the network working to add new blocks to the blockchain. On a Proof-of-Work blockchain a miner does this by hashing.
Minting is the process of NFT creation. The minting of tokens is carried out through a smart contract, which specifies the name of the token, the total amount of tokens that have been and will be minted for the entire time, etc.
Multi-signature is a digital signature scheme which permits a group of users to sign a single document. Its algorithm usually produces a joint signature that is more compact than a collection of distinct signatures from all users, while the needed number of signatures is agreed at the creation of the address. Multi-signature addresses have a greater resistance to theft as they require more than one signature combined for an operation to be executed on the blockchain.
Node (Full Node)
A copy of the software maintained by a participant within a blockchain network. A blockchain exists on nodes. If no nodes are online, a blockchain is offline and can’t be up to date or used. A full node maintains a full list of every single transaction that has occurred on a blockchain. It is a server that stores, updates and publicizes a full copy of the blockchain. Essentially, a full node is a program can fully validate transactions and blocks bolstering the p2p network while allowing other light nodes to connect with them. In the case of Proof-of-Work, miners are continuously required to run a full node in order to mine.
Node (Light Node)
A light node is only a partial list of every transaction that has occurred on a blockchain. A light node may only have blocks that were created very recently. Light nodes only contain partial blockchain histories but are usually connected with full nodes. This ensures that they remain synchronized, and that they can be used effectively.
Non-Fungible Token (NFT)
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are digital representations of data, that embed digital authenticity and ownership and support the creation of intangible assets. NFTs are essentially composable digital objects that fundamentally create unique opportunities and connections to off-chain analogues, and will support all metaverse assets and transform the class of intangible assets to a new class of assets.
Nonce is an abbreviation for the term “number only used once”. It is an essential part of each block processed in a Proof-of-Work blockchain. The nonce is a small piece of data in the block that is modified randomly and repeatedly. Miners keep hashing the data of the entire block that changes every time the nonce changes until they find a suitable outcome, the hash that solves the PoW puzzle and validates the block.
An oracle acts as a bridge between the real world and the blockchain by feeding data to smart contracts. It verifies events and then provides this information to the smart contract on the blockchain.
An orphan block is one that cannot be validated because there is no known parent.
A participant of Peer-to-peer network. A peer acts both as a client and a server and all peers typically has the same privileges.
Peer-to-peer stands for a decentralized network where all participants (peers, nodes / miners) are directly connected with each other, as opposed through a central server.
Plasma is the Lightning Network concept of the Ethereum blockchain. It is a framework to scale Ethereum blockchain’s processing power. A trust-less and multi-layered network that was developed to facilitate a decentralized market for the general public, to purchase not only cryptocurrencies and tokens but also real goods and services.
Private blockchains are developed and maintained by private organizations that control the mining process and consensus algorithm. They decide who can join the network and who may access the nodes, thus it is a closed network where blockchain permissions are held and controlled by a centralized entity.
The use of both Proof-of-Stake (PoS) and Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus protocols on a blockchain network. Blocks are validated from not only miners, but also voters or stakeholders, with the intent to create a balanced network governance. The objective of hybrid Proof of Work and Proof of Stake systems is to maintain the benefits of the respective approaches and use them to balance each other’s weaknesses.
A private key allows to sign a transaction and spend funds residing in an address (public key) by providing ownership with the signature. It is a unique string of information that represents proof of identification inside the blockchain, which includes the right to access and control the participant’s wallet. It must be kept secret, as it is effectively a personal password.
Proof of Authority (PoA)
A consensus mechanism in a private blockchain that grants a single private key the authority to generate all the blocks. The Proof-of-Authority algorithm is an alternative to the Proof of Stake algorithm, but instead of staking cryptocurrency, the stake is identity. This means voluntarily disclosing identity in exchange for the right to validate blocks. Any malicious action taken by a validator will reflect on its reputation. PoA blockchains require a thorough identity verification process.
Proof of Stake (PoS)
An alternative to the proof-of-work system, in which participants earn the right to add new blocks and in doing so, earn new tokens, based on the amount of currency they are staking. In Proof of Stake system, miners stake cryptocurrency in order to increase the possibility of earning the right to validate a block and earn a reward. The amount of cryptocurrency at stake acts as a guarantee that the miner will validate the block according to the rules. If the miner violates these rules, the stake will be ‘burned’ or destroyed thus providing an incentive mechanism for honest behavior.
Proof of Work (PoW)
A proof-of-work system is a consensus mechanism that relates mining capability to computational power. The process involves repeatedly performing a hash function and it is the way miners earn revenue by adding blocks on the blockchain. When the Proof of Work algorithm applies, the first miner that provides a ‘proof of work’ for a block, can validate it and receive the block reward. This proof of work can be generated by repeatedly inserting transaction data, together with a random string of digits into a hashing formula, until a desirable outcome is found called the proof of work. Other miners can validate the proof of work by taking the alleged input string and applying it to the same formula to check if the outcome is indeed that what was presented. The systemdeters denial-of-service attacks and other service abuses such as spam on a network by requiring some work from the service requester, usually meaning computational effort from a computer. Blocks must be hashed, which is an easy computational process, but an additional variable is added to the hashing process to make it harder. When a block is successfully hashed, the hashing could only be achieved with time and computational effort. Thus, a hashed block is considered proof of work. The most widely used proof-of-work scheme is based on SHA-256 and was introduced as a part of Bitcoin.
It is generally a set of rules or customs of a group or standard procedures for what actions to take in a certain situation.
A public blockchain is a type of blockchain where anyone may take part in transactions, execute consensus protocol to help decide which blocks get added to the blockchain and access a copy of the shared ledger, having equal authority as everyone else on the network. It is a “Public” network in a sense that you do not need permission to access it, just internet access and software.
A public key is created in public key encryption cryptography that makes use of asymmetric-key encryption algorithms. It is a unique string of information that identifies a participant within the blockchain. It can be shared publicly. A public key is your wallet address and is required by other entities, in order to send you messages or transactions.
A satoshi refers to the smallest denomination of the bitcoin cryptocurrency. A satoshi is 1 / 100,000,000 of a bitcoin or one bitcoin is equal to 100 million satoshis or sats. It is named after the unknown creator of the Bitcoin protocol, Satoshi Nakamoto.
An unknown individual or entity who created the Bitcoin protocol, being the first to successfully solve the digital currency issue of ‘double spending’. Satoshi Nakamoto first published his paper describing Bitcoin in October 2008 and the first software was released in January 2009.
Scalability refers to a blockchain’s capacity to handle transactions per second, future growth and capacity in its intended application.
Scrypt is a hash function first used by the cryptocurrency Litecoin as an alternative to SHA-256 hash function. It was designed to be significantly friendly to CPU and GPU miners, whereas limiting the benefits of ASIC miners. Scrypt proof-of-work refers to the Hashcash proof-of-work known for its use in Bitcoin, as part of the mining algorithm, with the employment of Scrypt as underlying hash function. What makes the Scrypt function different from the SHA-256 function is that it is memory intensive. It requires miners to generate numbers rapidly and also store them in the Random Access Memory (RAM) of the processor before submitting a result.
Secure Hash Algorithm 256, also known as SHA-256, is a one-way cryptographic function designed to secure digital information. The function uses a complex mathematical process that converts text of any length into 256-bit (64-character long) string of letters and numbers, and is the basis for bitcoin’s proof of work system.
Sharding is a mechanism typically used to partition databases so as to increase response time. Partitions are called shards. Similarly, a blockchain can be partitioned in shards to scale and allow for more transaction per second. They all process transactions, and communicate frequently their ledger status over to the first layer blockchain that records the updates of the second layer, with an aim to avoid clogging of the network due to high transaction volume, a concept similar to the Lightning Network.
A smart contract is a contract with the terms of the agreement between parties being directly written into code. The code and the terms of contract contained therein exist across a distributed, decentralized blockchain network. The lines of code enforce the execution while and transactions are traceable, transparent and irreversible. Without the need of a central authority or a legal system or an external enforcement mechanism, smart contracts allow trusted transactions and agreements to be performed.
A soft fork means that an update was made to the network protocol, just like a hard fork, but it did not force miners and nodes to choose between the old or the new network. Because old nodes can recognize the new blocks as valid, a soft fork is backwards-compatible. Old nodes and miners are able to participate in the new network without upgrading. However, if the old network holds most of the mining power, it can potentially divide the blockchain. Upgraded nodes are not participating in the network of the old nodes, and in the case that the old nodes create their own chain as a minority, the soft fork still results in a chain split.
The programming language developers use to develop applications on the Ethereum network. Solidity is a tool used to create machine-level code that is executable on Ethereum Virtual Machine; in other words, it takes human-readable code and turns it into implementable smart contracts on blockchain platforms.
A cryptocurrency that is pegged to a “stable” asset, like fiat or gold. In theory, it should remain stable in price as it is measured against a known number of an assets not subject to volatility.
A testnet is an alternative blockchain used for conducting experiments without using actual currency. This term is short for ‘testing network’; therefore, any changes done on this network do not affect the main blockchain.
Tokens are a special kind of virtual currency tokens that exist on their respective blockchains and represent an asset or utility.
A tokenless ledger is a distributed ledger that doesn’t require a native currency to operate.
Transaction Fees or mining fees area imposed on transactions sent across the bitcoin network. The transaction fee is the miner’s compensation for hashing the block containing the relevant transaction, apart from the block reward.
An uncle block is the same as a stale block but when referring to the Ethereum blockchain. Because the Ethereum blockchain processes blocks faster than the Bitcoin blockchain, it has higher chances of two valid blocks being broadcasted simultaneously, often referred to as the ‘uncle rate’. As more uncle blocks are created, to keep miners motivated the Ethereum ecosystem also provides a partial compensation for uncle blocks. Just like stale blocks though, they are not included in the original blockchain, therefore the uncle blocks transactions are not valid.
A wallet allows users to manage cryptocurrency and digital assets. The wallet can be online, offline, or on a physical device and enables the safekeeping of private keys, sending or receiving assets.
Web 3.0 is a new concept of the Internet that not only implements storage, exchange, and semantic search of any content but also provides a truly decentralized interaction of independent counterparties of any activity with no control or censorship.
WhitepaperA whitepaper is a study of a specific topic, identifying a problem and offering a possible solution. It is commonly used in the cryptocurrency community to attract investors and educate the public about the idea. New blockchain ideas may often be presented in the form of a whitepaper.