A hash is the output result of a hashing algorithm, which creates a unique, fixed-length string to encrypt and secure a certain selection of arbitrary data.
Hashing algorithms are essentially the backbone of all cybersecurity mechanisms. Data of arbitrary sizes can be easily encrypted and transformed into a fixed length, single hash string through hashing. Hash functions are extremely important in blockchain technology because they allow for the secure and quick processing of data and its input to the distributed ledger.
In addition, hashes are essential when using block explorers because they allow for the quick extraction of information regarding transactions and addresses. Hashing data is one of the most secure data transfer practices because none of the original information can be accessed without a hash key.
The hash and hash algorithm were created by Hans Peter Luhn around 1950. He started developing a machine that can quickly sort through both text and numbers, and thus the hash was born. While, at the time, there weren’t so many complex applications of this discovery, since then, the hash algorithm has become a cornerstone of advanced computing. Hans Peter Lunh was an innovator far ahead of his time, however, his inventions are now utilized in virtually any software available. While the term hash was not officially coined until Herbert Hellerman's “Digital Computer System Principles” was published, Hans Peter Lunh is considered the inventor of the technology.
There are numerous different types of hash functions, all focusing on various aspects of the hash algorithm. Fibonacci hashing is one of the more popular hash algorithms, and it involves multiples of the Fibonacci number. Other types of hashes include Zobrist hashing and various combinations between Fibonacci and Zobrist algorithms.
In blockchain technology, hashing is used to enhance the processing of transactions. While data about transactions can be of various lengths, all transactions are transformed into a fixed-length value through hashing. This value is then recorded in the blockchain and can be called back at any point in time. Because of hashing, transaction processing on the blockchain is faster and more secure. For example, all Bitcoin transactions are processed through the Secure Hashing Algorithm 256, which shortens the hash length to a fixed 256bits, or 32 bytes. Regardless of the size of the transaction, its has is always going to have a set length of 256 bits.
Hashing is vital for the proper function of blockchain projects, and especially cryptocurrencies. Without it, adding records to the blockchain at a high rate would not have been possible.