Tag Archives: block chain

Using TI Nspire to explore mathematics behind blockchain technology

The TI Nspire is a great tool for exploring mathematics through its calculation and graphing capability. One of the emerging technologies that is based on mathematics is blockchain. It gained popularity through bitcoin that caused much debate and controversy in the field of banking, economics and finance. Until recently more and more established research and technology firms started to look at it seriously and its underlying core technology, blockchain, is gaining momentum for being adopted by traditional financial institutions.

In a previous installment, the property of the Elliptic Curve is explored using TI Nspire. As shown in the dynamic graph below, the curve exhibit several properties that form the two basic operations of asymmetric encryption – point addition and point doubling – for public and private key pair generation.

ecanim

Using a=0, and b=7 as in Bitcoin, the two properties are basically illustrated in the following graphs.

Point Addition
blockchainecc1c

Point Doubling
blockchainecc2c2

However, in reality, the Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA) algorithm to generate public and private key relied also on another mathematical concept known as the finite field. This is basically a limit imposed on the numbers that are available for use in the calculation, and in this case, positive integers from a modulo calculation. The prime modulo for Bitcoin (as in secp256k1) is set to  2256 – 232 – 29 – 28 – 27 – 26 – 24 – 1. Having this in place, the graph will not look like the above but some scattered points on a fixed region, and overflows will wrap around. However, the symmetry will still be preserved and recognized visually on graph.

With this mathematical backed technology as the foundation, blockchain can provides open ledger for secure transaction service.

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SHA-256 initial hash derivation explained in TI Nspire

The SHA-256 is a cryptographic hash function with many usages. From bitcoin and block chain calculation to digital signature, SHA-256 played a pivotal role.

From the official definition, there are 8 initial hash values in the algorithm. They are hexadecimal form of the fractional part of the square roots of the first 8 prime numbers 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, and 19. The values are:

nspire-sha256-1

In practice these initial values are constants, but for demonstrating how fractions are represented in hexadecimal, the calculation can be shown in TI Nspire although no built-in support is provided for hexadecimal fractions. The calculation is very simple, take the fractional part from the value times 16, and then convert the integer part to hexadecimal. Repeat with the resulting value to concatenate the answer. In the below example, the second SHA-256 initial hash value calculation is shown (first three most significant value).

nspire-sha256-2