Blockchain has been a very popular subject over the past few months. Recently, Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA) had their first meeting in Atlanta, GA. They conducted an informational seminar to help other understand blockchain. It's no simple topic though, even broken down it is still a complicated technical system.
So what is blockchain?
According to Rajat Rajbhandari, a research engineer at Texas A&N’s Transportation Institute, blockchain is nothing but a different way to store transactions, events, entries, and logs. These data points are simply stored into “data blocks” that are linked together like a chain. All the blocks are shared and transmitted within a network and then acknowledge using a common protocol.
Four parts make up blockchain; a ledger, consensus, cryptography, and business logic:
- Ledger: All of the transactions are organized into chronological order within chained blocks. Those blocks each contain a “fingerprint of the transaction,” according to Rajbhandari, called a “hash”. Anything changed inside of that transaction causes the “hash” to also change. This action allows others to view each different transaction and validate them. All of the transactions recorded contain time stamps, values, and id of the previous, current, and next block.
- Consensus: This is the common protocol that acknowledges the transactions within the blocks. It is responsible for the validation of each entry. It would follow a set of standards that are agreed upon by two parties (or two blocks relaying information), meaning the blocks would agree on the same data.
- Cryptography: Each transaction would have to be from a verified origin, either a digital signature or a specified key to give access to a user. These origins are recorded into a created “hash” just like transactions.
- Business Logic: According to Rajbhandari, “it [gives] permission to read and write transactions …and how smart contracts will be integrated with your business workflow.” This is the primary motor that allows blockchain to function.
Interested in learning more about blockchain? Find out how PLS partnered with BiTA here!