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Chances are you listen to the term bitcoin mining and your mind begins to wander to the Western fantasy of pickaxes, dirt, and striking it rich. As it turns out, that analogy isnt too far off.

Far less glamorous but equally uncertain, bitcoin mining is done by high-definition computers which solve complex computational science issues (read: so complex that they cannot be solved by hand). The luck and work demanded by a computer to solve one of these problems is that the equivalent of a miner striking gold in the ground while digging in a sandbox.

The result of bitcoin mining is twofold. First, when computers solve these complex math problems on the bitcoin network, they produce new bitcoin, not unlike when a mining operation extracts gold in the ground. And second, by solving computational mathematics problems, bitcoin miners create the bitcoin payment network trustworthy and secure, by verifying its transaction information. .

Theres a fantastic chance all of that only made so much sense. In order to explain how bitcoin mining functions in greater detail, lets begin with a process thats just a little bit closer to home: the regulation of printed currency.



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Consumers tend to trust printed currencies, at least in the United States. Feeling because the U.S. dollar is backed with a central bank known as the Federal Reserve. In addition to a bunch of other responsibilities, the Federal Reserve modulates the production of new money and prosecutes the use of counterfeit currency. .

Even electronic payments using the U.S. dollar are backed with a central authority. When you make an online order using your debit or charge card, for instance, that transaction is processed by means of a payment processing company such as Mastercard or Visa. In addition to recording your transaction history, those companies affirm that transactions are not fraudulent, and that's one reason that your credit or debit card could be suspended while traveling. .

Bitcoin, on the other hand, is not regulated by a central authority. Instead, bitcoin is backed by millions of servers across the world known as miners. This network of computers performs the same function as the Federal Reserve, Visa, and Mastercard, but with a few key differences. Like the Federal Reserve, Visa, and Mastercard, bitcoin miners record transactions look what i found and assess their accuracy.



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When someone makes a purchase or sale using bitcoin, we call a transaction. Transactions generated in-store and online are documented by banks, point-of-sale systems, and bodily receipts. Bitcoin miners achieve the same effect with no institutions by clumping transactions together in blocks and adding them into a public record called the blockchain. .

When bitcoin miners add a new block of transactions to the blockchain, part of their job is to ensure that those transactions are true. (More on the magic of the way this happens in a second.) In specific, bitcoin miners make sure bitcoin are not being duplicated, a unique quirk of electronic currencies known as double-spending.



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Once you spend $20 in the shop, that bill is in the clerks hands. With electronic currency, nevertheless, it's a different story. .



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Digital information can be replicated relatively easily, so with bitcoin and other digital currencies, there's a risk that a spender can create backup of their bitcoin and send it to another party whilst still holding onto the original. Let us return to printed currency for a moment and say someone attempted to duplicate their $20 bill in order to spend the original and the counterfeit in a supermarket shop.

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If the numbers were identical, then the clerk would know the money had been replicated. This analogy is similar to what a bitcoin miner does when they confirm new transactions. .

With as many as 600,000 purchases and sales occurring in a single day, however, verifying every one of these transactions can be a lot of work for miners, which gets at one other crucial difference between bitcoin miners and the Federal Reserve, Mastercard, or Visa. As compensation for their efforts, miners are given bitcoin whenever they add a new block of transactions to the blockchain.

In 2009, it had been 50. In 2013, it was 25, in the time of check out here writing it's 12.5, and sometime in the middle of 2020 it will halve to 6.25. .

At this rate of halving, the entire number of bitcoin in circulation will approach a limit of 21 million, making the currency more scarce and valuable over time but also more expensive for miners to make.

Here's the catch. In order for bitcoin miners to really earn bitcoin from verifying transactions, two things must happen. To begin with, they must confirm 1 megabyte (MB) value of transactions, which can theoretically be as small as 1 transaction but are far more often a few thousand, depending on how much information each transaction stores.

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