Public-key cryptography is the basis of Bitcoin and all major cryptocurrencies. This cryptographic system uses two key pairs: private keys and public keys. Public keys are known and are used for identification purposes whilst private keys are used for authentication and encryption.

Three fundamental pieces of information are essential for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin to operate. The address associated with the balance which is used to send and receive funds, and the address’s corresponding public keys and private keys. Firstly, a private key is needed to generate a Bitcoin address. From that, the public key can be generated. Multiple addresses can then be generated from the public key which are shorter representations of the public key.

A private key allows a cryptocurrency user to claim ownership of funds of a specific address. This system is secure because it is impossible to get the address’ private key from its public key.

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