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The blockchain, the backbone of any cryptocurrency contains validated transactions, which prevents fraudulent transactions and double spending of currency. The resultant encrypted value is a hash, which is a series of numbers and letters that does not resemble the original data. Working with this hash is a must for cryptocurrency mining.
Hashing requires running data from a block through a mathematical function, which produces a fixed-length output. Using a fixed-length output improves security because anyone attempting to decrypt the hash will not be able to figure out how long or short the input is based solely on the length of the output.
Solving the hash begins with the data in the block header and is essentially a difficult mathematical problem. Each block header contains a version number, a timestamp, the preceding block's hash, the Merkle root hash, the nonce, and the target hash.
The miner concentrates on the nonce, which is a string of numbers. This number is appended to the previous block's hashed contents, which is then hashed. If the new hash is less than or equal to the target hash, the solution is approved, the miner is rewarded, and the block is added to the blockchain.
To solve the hash, the miner must first select which string to use as the nonce, which requires a large amount of trial and error. This is due to the nonce being a random string. It is exceedingly improbable that a miner will correctly generate the correct nonce on the first try. The greater the difficulty, the longer it is likely to take to find a solution.
Hashes are employed in a number of different elements of a blockchain system. First, each block contains the hash of the block header of the previous block, ensuring that nothing has been tampered with when new blocks are added. Furthermore, proof-of-work (PoW) cryptocurrency mining employs hashing of randomly generated numbers in order to arrive at a certain hashed value containing a series of leading zeroes. This random function consumes a lot of resources, making it difficult for a malicious user to take over the network.