It will be an understatement to say that the Blockchain Technology any of the most innovations of this century. Whenever we think of it, we automatically associate with the cryptocurrencies, and primarily bitcoin. Yet , that notion is changing at a rapid rate. More and more people are seeing that the decentralization and openness that will come by using the blockchain technology has the potential to shake multiple industries to its very core. This particular article explores different blockchain applications.

Blockchain Applications for the Real World

Just before we look into industries which have blockchain applications, let’s reacquaint ourselves with the blockchain technology now, shall we?

What is the Blockchain Technology?

The blockchain is a chain of blocks where each block includes data of value without the main supervision. It is cryptographically secure and immutable. A blockchain uses two important data structures: Pointers and Linked Lists.

Ideas

Pointers are variables in programming which stores the address of another varying. Usually normal variables in any programming language stores data.

Eg. int a = 10, means there is a variable which stores integer values. In cases like this, it is storing an integer value which is 10. This is a normal variable.

Pointers, however, as opposed to storing values will store addresses of other variables. This is why they are called pointers, because they are virtually pointing towards the location of other variables.

Associated Lists

A linked listing is one of the main items in data structures.

It is just a sequence of blocks, each containing data which is linked to the next block via a tip. The pointer variable, in this case, contains the address of the next node in it thus the connection is made. The last node, as you can see, has a null pointer which means that the tip has no value.

A single important things to note here, the pointer inside each block contains the address of the next block. Of which is how the aiming is achieved. Now you might be asking what does that mean for the first block in the list? Where does the pointer of the initial block stay?

The first block is called the ‘genesis block’ and their pointer lies in the system itself.

As you could have guessed by now, this is what the structure of the blockchain is based on. A blockchain is simply a associated list.

The blockchain is a linked list which contains data and a hash pointer which factors to its previous obstruct, hence creating the cycle. What is a hash pointer? A hash tip is similar to a pointer, but rather than just containing the address of the previous block it also contains the hash of your data inside the previous block. That one small tweak is what makes blockchains so amazingly reliable and trailblazing.

Remember this point because we will be back in it in a bit.


So, the two most interesting facets of the blockchain technology are:

  • Decentralization.
  • Immutability.

Decentralization

A normal network structure is the ‘client-server’ structure.

How does that work?

There is a centralized server. And everyone who wants to link with the server can send a query to get the required information. This specific is just about how the internet works. When you need to Google something, you send a query to the Google server, which returns with the required results. So, this is a client-server system. Now, what is the condition with this model?

Since everything is dependent on the server, it is critical for the server to be functioning always for the system to work. It is just a bottleneck. Now suppose, for whatever reason the main server stops working, everyone in the network will be affected. Plus, there are also security concerns. Considering that the network is centralized, the server itself handles a lot of sensitive information in connection with clients. This means that anyone can hack the server and get those parts of information. Plus, there is also the concern of censorship. What if the server decides that a particular item (movie, song, book etc. ) is not agreeable and decides not to pass on it in their community?

Therefore , to counter all these issues, a different kind of network structure came about. It is a network which partitioning its entire workload among participants, who will be all similarly privileged, called ‘peers’. Presently there is no longer one key server, now there are a lot distributed and decentralized peers. This is a peer-to-peer network.

Why do people use peer-to-peer community?

One of the key uses of peer-to-peer network is file sharing, also called ‘torrenting’. If you are to use a client-server model for downloading, then it is usually extremely slow and completely dependent on the health of the storage space. Plus, like we said, it is prone to censorship.

Yet , in a peer-to-peer system, there is no core authority, and hence if even one of the peers in the network goes out of the race, you still have more peers to download from. Plus, it is not subject to the idealistic standards of a core system, hence it is not prone to censorship.

Immutability

What is immutability?

Immutability, in the context of the blockchain, means that once something has already been entered into the blockchain, it cannot be interfered with. The reason why the blockchain gets this property is that of cryptographic hash function.

Within simple terms, hashing means taking an input string of any length and giving out an end result of a fixed size. Inside the context of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, the transactions are taken as an input and run through a hashing algorithm (bitcoin uses SHA-256) which provides an output of a repaired length.

the case of SHA-256, no matter how big or small your input is, the result will always have a set 256-bits length. This becomes critical when you are dealing with a large amount of data and purchases. So basically, rather than remembering the input data which could be huge, you can remember the hash and keep track.

A new cryptographic hash function is a special class of hash functions which has various properties so that it is perfect for cryptography. There are certain properties that a cryptographic hash function needs to have to become considered secure. You can read about those in detail in our guide on hashing.

There is simply one property that we want you to give attention to today. It truly is called the ‘Avalanche Result’.

What does that mean?

Even if you make a tiny change in your input, the changes that will be mirrored in the hash will be huge.

Even though you just changed the case of the first alphabet of the input, check out how much that has afflicted the end result hash. Now, let’s go back to our previous point when we were taking a look at blockchain architecture. Just what we said was:


Typically the blockchain is a linked list which contains data and a hash tip which take into account its prior block, hence creating the chain. What is a hash pointer? A hash pointer is similar to a pointer, but instead of just containing the tackle of the previous block it also contains the hash of the data inside the prior block.

This specific one small tweak is what makes blockchains so amazingly reliable and trailblazing.

Imagine this for a second, a hacker episodes block 3 and will try to change the data. Because of the properties of hash functions, a slight change in data will change the hash drastically. This means that any slight changes made in block 3, will alter the hash which is stored in block 2, since in turn will change the data and the hash of obstruct 2 which will lead to within block 1 and so on and so forth. This specific will completely change the chain, which is impossible. This really is how blockchains attain immutability.

Now that we really know what the blockchain technology is, let’s look at its blockchain applications in several industries.

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2018-08-18