Glossary of Terms

A friendly list of common blockchain and cryptocurrency terms used by Blockdaemon, from archive nodes to validators.

Archive NodeArchive nodes support analytics use cases and research. They do not participate in validating or processing new transactions or blocks. Instead, they store every transaction that has ever occurred on the blockchain network, including previous versions. Tracing data isn't commonly found, although some implementations can enable this functionality.
Authority NodeIt is the same as a validator (this term is mainly used by Parity).
BlockA blockchain is a growing list of records called blocks. Blocks are linked using cryptography and contain a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data (generally represented as a Merkle tree).
BlockchainA blockchain is a shared ledger where appending blocks permanently record transactions. The blockchain serves as a historical record of all transactions, from the genesis block to the latest block, hence the name blockchain.
Block ExplorerBlock Explorer is an online tool to view all past and current transactions on the blockchain. They provide helpful information such as network hash rate and transaction growth.
Block HeightThe number of blocks connected on the blockchain.
Block RewardA form of incentive for the miner who successfully calculated the hash in a block during mining. Verification of transactions on the blockchain generates new coins in the process, and the miner is rewarded a portion of those.
Byzantine Fault ToleranceA property of a consensus algorithm that ensures that this consensus algorithm can tolerate arbitrary (including malicious) node failures.
ConsensusConsensus is achieved when all network participants agree on the validity of the transactions, ensuring that the ledgers are exact copies of each other.
DAODecentralized Autonomous Organizations can be considered corporations that run without human intervention and surrender all forms of control to an incorruptible set of business rules.
dAppA decentralized application (dApp) is an open-source application that operates autonomously, has its data stored on a blockchain, is incentivized in the form of cryptographic tokens, and operates on a protocol that shows proof of value.
DelegationThe ability to provide coins/tokens to a stake pool, allowing participation in staking without the need for a user to operate their node.
DeFi (Decentralized Finance)DeFi is an umbrella term for peer-to-peer financial services on public blockchains, primarily Ethereum.
Double SigningWhen a validator signs two blocks simultaneously, it is usually due to a backup node issue.

This is one of the conditions that can lead to slashing.
DowntimeRefers to a validator’s absence to sign transactions on a blockchain for a specific time. Expectations for a validator’s uptime differ from one protocol to another. This is one of the conditions that can lead to slashing.
DifficultyThis refers to how easily a data block of transaction information can be mined successfully.
Distributed LedgerDistributed ledgers are ledgers in which data is stored across a network of decentralized nodes. A distributed ledger does not have to have its currency and may be permissioned and private.
Distributed NetworkA type of network where processing power and data are spread over the nodes rather than having a centralized data center.
Fail-stop Fault ToleranceA property of a consensus algorithm that ensures that this consensus algorithm can tolerate nodes that crash.
Federated BFTA special version of BFT allows it to be used in big public blockchains; Anybody can become a validator, but nodes decide which validators they trust. Examples: Stellar.
Full / Current NodeFull nodes verify and add new transactions and blocks to the blockchain. They maintain a complete copy of the blockchain's current state but don't store previous versions. Some implementations contain tracing data by default, while others may need this feature enabled.
Genesis BlockThe first or first few blocks of a blockchain.
Gnosis SafeMultisig wallet that controls the admin functionalities of the smart contract. Owners are both Stakewise and Blockdaemon team members.
Hard ForkA type of fork that renders previously invalid transactions valid, and vice versa. This type of fork requires all nodes and users to upgrade to the latest version of the protocol software.
History / Historic NodeHistoric nodes facilitate access to specific subsets of data without actively participating in the validation or processing of new transactions or blocks. They maintain a subset of the blockchain's historical data, which can vary based on implementation. They may not contain tracing data by default, but some versions can enable this feature.
Hybrid PoS/PoWA hybrid PoS/PoW allows for both Proof of Stake and Proof of Work as consensus distribution algorithms on the network.
KeeperA keeper is a specially configured Oracle that collects data from all Oracles and submits them to the smart contract.
Light NodeLight nodes are quicker and more responsive than full nodes but rely on the integrity of other nodes. They don't store a full copy of the blockchain ledger, instead storing only a subset of information necessary to validate a transaction with full or archive nodes. It's uncommon for them to contain tracing data.
MinerSame as a validator; Mostly used in the context of PoW.
MiningMining is the act of validating blockchain transactions. The necessity of validation warrants an incentive for the miners, usually in the form of coins.
Mining NodeMining nodes create new blocks on a Proof-of-Work (PoW) blockchain by solving complex mathematical problems. They broadcast new blocks for validation and addition to the network's ledgers. They store only enough recent blocks and transactions for ongoing participation, with some running a full or archive node to retrieve older data. Tracing data is usually absent.
MintingThe computer process of validating information, creating a new block, and recording that information into the blockchain.
NFT (Non-Fungible Tokens)NFTs are unique crypto assets that authenticate ownership of digital items such as art, recordings, virtual property, pets, fashion items, and more.
NodeA copy of the ledger operated by a participant of the blockchain network.
PBFTPractical Byzantine fault tolerance; A consensus algorithm to implement PoA.
Permissioned BlockchainsAnother term for PoA.
PoAProof of authority; Validators are pre-selected upfront; Adding/removing validators typically happens by voting (i.e., if most existing validators agree to add a new validator); Examples: Private Ethereum; Quorum, HLF.
PoRProof of reputation: Used by GoChain; Same as PoA, but only big players (with a reputation to lose) are allowed as validators.
PoSProof of state; Anybody can be a validator if they “stake” enough coins; Suitable for big public blockchains. For example, Public Ethereum (once they switch to PoS).
PoWProof of work; Anybody can be a validator if they solve the PoW challenge; Suitable for big public blockchains; Examples: Public Bitcoin, Public Ethereum.
Private BlockchainOnly a selected group can listen to the blockchain – Typically, these blockchains use PoA. Note that even though the blockchain itself is private to outside “eyes”, anybody who can see the blockchain still can see all transactions.
Private KeyA private key is a string of data that allows you to access the tokens in a specific wallet. They act as passwords that are kept hidden from anyone but the owner of the address.
Private TransactionsSome Blockchains (Quorum, HLF) allow sending some transactions “privately”. Only the receiver of the transaction can see the content.
ProtocolsProtocols are basic sets of rules that allow data to be shared between computers.
Public AddressA public address is the cryptographic hash of a public key. Unlike private keys, they act as email addresses that can be published anywhere.
Public BlockchainAnybody can listen to the blockchain – Note that this can be implemented with PoA, PoS, and PoW.
Public NetworkA public blockchain is permissionless. It is open to all, decentralized, and ensures data security by preventing any alterations once validated.
Private NetworkPrivate blockchains use access controls, limiting participants and relying on controlling entities for transactions. In a private blockchain, only the entities participating in a transaction will know about it, whereas the others will not be able to access it.
rETH2Stakewise (permissionless) staking token.
rETH2-hPortara reward token
RewardCompensation for the provision of tasks/roles critical to the functioning of the protocol, e.g., operating a validator and producing blocks (block rewards), depositing the minimum staking requirement for a validator (staking rewards), the operation of a pool and/or provision of significant liquidity (liquidity mining rewards).
SealerIt's the same as a validator, but I see this term more often in the context of PoS.
Seed NodeSeed nodes assist new nodes in joining the network and discovering peers, particularly in peer-to-peer (P2P) networks and some blockchain protocols. They possess a fixed IP address or domain name hardcoded into the client software of other nodes. They store limited metadata, such as IP addresses and connection information. It's uncommon for them to contain tracing data.
sETH2Stakewise (permissionless) staking token.
sETH2-hPortara staking token.
SlashingA penalty or disciplinary process for validators as punishment for their dishonest or malicious actions.
Smart ContractsSmart contracts encode business rules in a programmable language onto the blockchain and are enforced by the network participants.
SoliditySolidity is Ethereum’s programming language for developing smart contracts.
Stakewise OracleA component within the Stakewise/Portara systems responsible for managing validators and calculating rewards.
StakingA class of consensus mechanisms for blockchains that work by selecting validators in proportion to their quantity of holdings in the associated cryptocurrency.
SWISEStakewise (permissionless) governance token.
Transaction FeeAll cryptocurrency transactions involve a small transaction fee. These transaction fees add up to account for the block reward that a miner receives when he successfully processes a block.
ValidatorA node that’s allowed to create new blocks in a PoA blockchain.
Validator NodeValidator nodes create new blocks on a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) blockchain through staking and consensus, also validating transactions. Storage varies, but they usually mirror full or archive nodes. They commonly include tracing data by default.
Watcher NodeWatcher nodes monitor the network's state and track specific events or transactions without participating in the consensus process or transaction validation. They store only enough information to respond to current state changes, with the exact amount varying per implementation. Tracing data is not typically included.