Bitcoin employs cryptography to build a key pair used to control the entrance to the blockchain. For each bitcoin key pair, there is a public and private key. Read on for more details on bitcoin keys.
It would be advantageous first to have an understanding of what bitcoin private keys are. A bitcoin private key is made up of 256 bits. This secret number is responsible for the unlocking and sending of the bitcoin. Every private key can create a personalized signature. The signature ensures that the transactions are only done by the legit bitcoin owner. It is called a private key because it should be only known by the relevant person, it is secretive.
This is not the same with the bitcoin public key. Just like the bitcoin private key, it is made up of many bits. But, it only allows the bitcoin to be locked and received. Since the public has access to it, it is known as a public key. Its main purpose is to ensure you receive funds.
To many, the draw line between a bitcoin private and public key is still a foreign concept. While some have come out claiming to have a reliable difference, the explanations are still not understood. As a user, getting explanations about digital signatures, signing transactions and wallet import formats will not be useful. It is possible for them to know more about keys in bitcoin in understandable explanations easily.
For better understanding, picture the public key cryptography as a lock. But, the lock uses two keys rather than one. A, B and C are the specific points on the lock. When the key moves from B to A, it represents lock and receive, which is a public key. However, the moving from point B to C shows unlocking or sending, which is only done by a private key. This explanation makes trusting the system easier..
Even with the differences between the two keys, they have a relationship. The relationship comes about mathematically on the secp256k1elliptic curve. Using the randomly generated number, the private key, on the curve, the resultant related point is the public key.
It is also essential to have an idea of where bitcoin keys and addresses come from. The bitcoin wallet software is responsible for coming up with the wallet file, addresses, and keys for each specific user. The private key, is formed on a section of the software that can manage huge numbers. These numbers are also generated in the section randomly. There are millions and millions of private keys. When it comes to security; the assumption is that the huge numbers make it entirely impossible for the anyone to randomly come up with the same two private keys in two instances.