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ASU Blockchain Research

Intro to Blockchain

What is blockchain?

Blockchain is a decentralized, digital ledger system that serves as the foundation upon which Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies operate. Blockchain uses a wide network to keep track of digital transactions, such as cryptocurrency, it’s referred to as a chain because additions or changes added linearly and connected together. This means the blockchain cannot be surreptitiously edited or changed. Once the transaction is encoded in the Blockchain and becomes part of the network, the parties cannot reverse or alter it without mutual agreement.

What is a smart contract?

Smart contracts are used to exchange money or ownership, store data, make decisions, and interact with other contracts. They are pieces of computer code that are programmed to perform operations on an outcome of an event based on predetermined criteria set by the creators of the contract. Often these smart contracts exist on distributed ledger technology, as of now, they primarily use blockchain. Ethereum is a well-known blockchain network that uses smart contracts to create decentralized applications, issue tokens, and manage governance. While at first smart contracts may seem mysterious, at a second glance their operations and applications start to make a little more sense. Learn more about what the lab has done with smart contracts here.

What are some problems with blockchain?

Blockchain technology, although revolutionary in principle is not without it’s set of challenges in practice. At our current state, these blockchain networks have propagation methods that result in bottlenecks leading to high latency and more frequent orphaned blocks. High latency meaning long delays in network transmission, and orphaned blocks referring to blocks that have failed to propagate to the network. These challenges create long delays in transactions, high bandwidth requirements, and opens the door for malicious activity.  Learn more about what we have done to try and solve some of blockchain’s biggest problems.

Where did blockchain come from?

On January 3rd, 2009 Satoshi Nakamoto created the world’s first blockchain based network called Bitcoin. Originally, Bitcoin was intended to provide an alternative to the banking industry, now we see blockchain technology being applied to solve all sorts of complex problems around the world. Learn more about how the lab is using blockchain to help fight global warming.