Although the P2P concept has been around for a while, only after the introduction of the cryptocurrencies, especially the Bitcoins, even the non-techies are very familiar with the term! Actually, P2P seems the selling point of the Bitcoin, as it is often referred to as the peer-to-peer cryptocurrency! Before getting deeper into the Bitcoins’ P2P concept, let us first try to understand the basic definition of the Peer-to-Peer network!
What is P2P?
The success of the P2P lies in the very fact of the lack of hierarchical institutions, the basic concept of the client-server model! Yes, P2P has no such partialities, as all the participating nodes are equal peers, sharing things equally among themselves. That is, here, the power is distributed, and therefore, every node gets to be treated fairly! Initially, this benefit of P2P was considered so appropriate for the file sharing necessity, for which the popular Napster application serves as the best example!
Fortunately, P2P’s benefit was not restricted to this purpose alone! Upon further developments, this amazing benefit of the P2P known as the cryptocurrency was known to the world, thankfully!
The Bitcoins’ network is a P2P network, which means, there is no central authority to look after or control the working of the network! In other words, this network is a decentralized network with no hierarchical institutions to care for and that places the nodes of the network in an equal position. Yes, all the participating nodes get treated equally but, that doesn’t prevent them from doing their specific tasks!
That is, even though the nodes are considered to be equal, the tasks carried out by them need not be the same, and this, in any way, does not interfere with the concept of decentralization! There are these three major tasks carried out by these nodes or the peers of the Bitcoin network, and based on these tasks or the functionalities, the peers can be classified as,
There is this significant computing task of the Bitcoin network, which is known as the mining, in where the new blocks are created and appended to the network to ensure the perfect growth of the network! The peers that perform this mining task are referred to as the Miners!
Validation & Relaying
Some peers of the network are indulged invalidating & relaying the blocks received by them, that is, these peers relay to the other peer’s valid transactions and block data, along with the network data!
Some peers look after the wallet functionality, in where they keep track of the bitcoin transactions associated with the addresses of the specific keys!
Thus, the peers of the Bitcoins’ P2P network can carry out one or more of the possible functionalities, with no particular preference! Also, we have only discussed here, the three main functionalities there are also the other ones in existence! Typically, the main Bitcoin network may contain 7000 -10000 nodes at a time!
So, if any new node wishes to join the network then, it must identify, at least, one of the existing nodes, no matter wherever the node’s geographical presence might be, to get connected to the node by sending messages! If that node is a listening peer, that is the one that accepts new connections then, the new node might be inducted into the network! While the induction process has been explained so plainly here, understand, there goes a lot of technical things with regard to this issue!