The ETC blockchain is composed of an array of blocks. Blocks contain three categories of information: computation, consensus and context. Blocks contain transaction related information (computation), mining related information (consensus), and, information to properly locate blocks on the blockchain (context). All components except for two lists form the block headers.
Transactions initiate all activity on the world computer. This category contains information related to this computation. Specifically, these block components consist of the following:
- transaction list
- lists of transactions
- transactions root (transaction list root hash)
- root hashes of transaction lists
- gas used (transaction list total gas requirement)
- gas requirements for all the transactions in the transaction list
- state root (transaction list final state root hash)
- root hashes of the states after each transaction is applied
- receipts root (transaction log list root hash)
- root hashes of transaction log lists
- logs Bloom (transaction log list Bloom filter)
- Bloom filters of transaction log lists
It may seem problematic that blocks only contain root hashes of states and transaction logs. Nevertheless, the full specification of any state or transaction log can always be obtained by reapplying all the transactions on the blockchain with respect to the initial state.
Mining is the process of creating and validating new blocks. This is referred to as mining because the participants (miners) are rewarded with newly created ETC. The mining procedure is referred to as the consensus algorithm as it helps users of ETC agree on an ordered set of transactions. This involves a race to find certain numbers necessary to create new blocks. These numbers are referred to as proof of work information because they are “proof” that a certain amount of computational work was done. The block candidates that lose this race are referred to as the uncle blocks since they are related to the parents or last blocks added. These block components consist of the following:
- extra data (miner extra data)
- 32 unused bytes added by miners
- beneficiary (miner address)
- addresses with respect to block mining rewards
- mix hash (miner validation help)
- values that help miners validate blocks faster
- gas limit (miner gas maximum)
- maximum possible gas requirements to apply all transactions in blocks
- nonce (proof of work information)
- the number required to add blocks to the blockchain
- difficulty (proof of work difficulty)
- difficulty of finding proof of work information for the block
- ommer header list (uncle header list)
- lists of the headers of the associated uncles
- ommers hash (uncle header list root hash)
- Keccak 256 hashes of uncle header lists
The miner validation help components are necessary because slow block validation risks certain denial of service attacks. Miners are able to make slight adjustments to the miner gas maxima of the next blocks they create if desired. Uncles improve security by making attacks require performing more work. The consensus algorithm automatically increases the proof of work difficulty for the next blocks when new blocks are being added too quickly. Likewise, the proof of work difficulty decreases when new blocks are being added too slowly.
Blocks must always located correctly in the blockchain. Here are the blockchain components pertaining to context.
- number (block number)
- the numbers of blocks that must precede blocks on the blockchain
- parent hash (parent header hash)
- Keccak 256 hash of parent block headers
- timestamp (date & time)
- dates and times that blocks were added to the blockchain
The parent block of a block is the preceding block on the blockchain. Dates and times are denoted by the number of seconds since 1970–01–01 00:00:00 UTC.
There is no explicit account information in the blockchain. The only account information is the state root hash. To obtain account information, all the transactions in all the blocks of the blockchain must be implemented on the world computer with respect to the initial state.