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FAQ - Introduction to Bitcoin infrastructure course

The Bitcoin SV Academy launched an introductory level course to Bitcoin Infrastructure in December 2021. 

The introduction to Bitcoin Infrastructure course is focused on providing students with a solid understanding of the role that nodes and node operators play in the construction of the network. In particular it will focus on the incentives that drive enterprise operators to spend large sums of money to build and operate their infrastructure.

To help you gauge whether this course is a good match for your academic aspirations, we’ve provided you with an outline of the course material and feedback from one of the course alumni.

To give you further insight in the course, this blog offers you a compilation of insightful questions from our Discord channel - with answers provided by the very individuals who create the course material. 

Introduction to Bitcoin infrastructure course FAQ

Q: ‘Nodes typically run software called bitcoind however there is no requirement to use any specific software. Nodes can run whatever software allows them to participate in the network by producing valid blocks.’

What other software can a node run besides bitcoind to produce valid blocks?

A: Good question. Really all it's saying is that it's not about what software you're running. It's about performing the actions needed: processing/validating txs, building block templates, finding a proof-of-work solution, and disseminating blocks.

Q: Are nodes, pool miners and hashers 3 key components in Bitcoin mining?

A: No, there are two components: hashers and pools that run nodes. The pools that run the nodes are the miners, and the hashers are like contractors that do work in exchange for a fee.

Right now, nodes perform tx processing and validation, and pool miners distribute work to hashers. But in future, nodes will become similar to Cloud providers and be the core of the small world network performing tx processing/storage and block construction and distribution, and routing etc.

Q: How easy is it for the hashers to move positions between nodes? Are there contracts?

A: It’s easy for hashers to move between nodes. There can be a contract, but most pools don’t use them.

Q: Difficulty adjusts based on the number of nodes and not the hashers? Correct?

A: No it’s the number of hashes

Q: ‘Provided block header ==> since Bitcoin nodes are constantly accepting new transactions and the merkle tree is constantly being updated.’

Do the hashers receive new block header from the nodes to work on for proof-of-work, because the Merkle Root is new every new transaction received?

A: Yes, pool miners poll nodes for a new block candidate about every 10 seconds (although the block template and candidate is updated much faster than that), and then the pool miners distribute the new block candidate information to hashers where they iterate through the nonce value (and extra nonce value) and hash the header until they find a valid proof-of-work solution.

Q: Why doesn't BSV require Miners to submit ID verification or similar, as an added security precaution?

A: MinerID is optional as there are no verification practices that are tied to the consensus rules of the Bitcoin protocol. Nodes are free to join or drop off at will. 

It may be that as we move toward more professional mining operations, some nodes may wish to only maintain connections with nodes displaying their minerID - but that is voluntary. It would be very tricky to create any top down verification for identity of miners whereby they were excluded from the network if they didn't provide it. 

Who would administer that? It would get messy. Bitcoin is permissionless and set up to diffuse power. Honesty is always more profitable in Bitcoin so nodes will likely adopt minerID voluntarily to enhance their services they can offer

Q: How do nodes choose what transactions to collect to form a block?

A: This is entirely up to the node, but generally the node software allows them to configure specific fee rates - any transaction with a fee above that fee rate will be accepted by the node and included in their block template

Note that there are other ‘limits’ the node can impose (entirely voluntarily - not consensus rules) to exclude transactions from their block template. Script size, for example, is one of them.

Q: Are nodes working on the same transactions as other nodes? If so, what percent of the transactions are duplicated?

A: Yes they are. As transactions are received they are validated by the node. It is in the interest of every node to do this because they don't want to create a block with an invalid transaction or else the block will be orphaned. Close to 100% of transactions have this work duplicated across nodes because of this natural incentive. This is part of the economic function that secures the ledger. 

An introduction to Bitcoin infrastructure course

If the topic of Bitcoin mining and infrastructure is within your professional purview, you’ll benefit from the BSV Academy’s introduction to Bitcoin Infrastructure course.

This certificate course is focussed on providing students a solid understanding of the role that nodes and node operators play in the construction of the network. In particular it focuses on the incentives that drive enterprise operators to spend large sums of money to build and operate their infrastructure.

To sign up for this free course, head over here.

Lizette Louw
Lizette Louw

Technology Writer