We all know that people who are familiar with cryptography and cryptocurrency will have heard of Merkle trees before. Every non-leaf node has a label with the hash of the names of child nodes. In plain English, this means Merkle trees provide for efficient and secure verification of large amounts of data. It is a very intriguing piece of technology that will be beneficial to cryptocurrency in the long run as well.
Exploring The Potential of A Merkle Tree
When it comes to storing data efficiently and securely, Merkle trees certainly have their role to play. A hash tree is the alternative name of a Merkle tree. It is often meant for verifying any data stored and transmitted in and between different computers on a network. The technology has become an integral part of peer-to-peer protocols as of late, including in the cryptocurrency sector.
To be more precise, a Merkle tree is designed to ensure blocks of data can receive from other peers in a peer to peer network. More specifically, this information needs to be in its original state, without alterations or corrupted information.
In most cases, a Merkle tree comprises of two child nodes under each node on the network. This binary approach reinstated, although it still leaves a lot of room for future improvements. In fact, there does not appear to be a limit as to how many child nodes can be used per node to establish a more secure Merkle tree.
What is the Merkle root?
Every transaction has a hash associated with it. In a block, all of the transaction hashes in the block are themselves hashed (sometimes several times — the exact process is complex), and the result is the Merkle root. In other words, the Merkle root is the hash of all the hashes of all the transactions in the block. The Merkle root is a part of the block header. With this scheme, it is possible to securely verify that a transaction has been accepted by the network (and get the number of confirmations) by downloading just the small block headers and Merkle tree – downloading the entire block chain is unnecessary. This feature is currently not used in Bitcoin, but it will be in the future.
The idea (as I understand it) is that the Merkle tree allows for you to verify transactions as needed and not include the body of every transaction in the block header, while still providing a way to test the entire blockchain (and therefore proof of work) on every transaction.
To understand this, first, understand the concept of a tree. Consider an eight trade block. Imagine each of those eight transactions at the base of a pyramid: these are leaves. Put four “branches” on the second tier of the pyramid and draw two lines from each of them to the leaves so that each branch has two blades attached to it.
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