I don't really understand Bitcoins as well as I'd like. I understand that eventually there will be 21,000,000 bitcoins mined. And, I understand that each bitcoin can be subdivided into 100,000,000 satoshis. so there will one day be 2,100 Trillion satoshis in the system.

So, Is each satoshis as secure as a bitcoin? Or, I was imagining, that even though each bitcoin might be highly secure, perhaps a bitcoins individual subdivisions might not be accounted for so well. Suppose one organization had a several bitcoins, but a great many of the organizations members owned various numbers of those bitcoin's satoshis. Would they need to be extra concerned that their satoshis could somehow disappear, when they owned less than a full bitcoin?

(Does accountability begin with the satoshis, or with the bitcoin?)


When people "hold Bitcoin", they actually have access to a private key that allows them to sign for one or more unspent transaction outputs (UTXO) of the corresponding Bitcoin sum. The amounts in transaction outputs are in fact specified as a count of satoshis.

All unspent transaction outputs are tracked by each full node on the network, therefore, it is no more likely that a smaller amount is going to be forgotten rather than a greater amount. However, since transaction fees are paid for transaction size and not transacted amount, smaller amounts can have a much higher relative cost to be spent than larger sums.

  • Unfortunately this doesn't asnwer the question, the asker asks about the security. How is that effected? – marshal craft Dec 26 '17 at 11:47
  • Seems like you've just assumed everyone is wriiting their own bitcoin node, please elaborate how the security is effected. – marshal craft Dec 26 '17 at 13:01
  • The asker was curious on how accounting in Bitcoin worked and why people could rely on having access to their money. I think that I've answered those points. – Murch Dec 26 '17 at 17:07
  • The accounting is certainly related, but ultimately it does not discuss the security, I think. For example if generic coin uses generic hashing algorithm, could it be possible collision likelyhood negatively correlates with size of transaction. – marshal craft Dec 28 '17 at 7:11
  • Yeah, there could be some sort of issue that only affects smaller transaction outputs. Other than fees being a relatively larger proportion, I'm at this time not aware of any. – Murch Dec 28 '17 at 8:41

Yes they are. From Bitcoins perspective it's just the floating point number of Bitcoins in the wallet. 000-001.0000 works the same way 000.0001 does. Satoshis are a human mechanism used to talk about small amounts of bitcoin, similar to micro btc. In fact a satoshis is equal to .01 micro btc.

In the software it is a variable which has a presicion to millionth decimal place. I'm not sure the exact c data type the current software uses but probably unsigned char or array of them.

This value when hashed and what not agrees with the block chain Merkel tree so they know that value of Bitcoin had to be in wallet.

Also the amount gets put into a string of numbers so it's not that number alone but others to tacked on to front and back.

Finally the Sha 256 algorithm does not depend on number size or what not to derive it's randomness for the output number.

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    Bitcoin does not use floating points at all. The satoshi is actually the base unit of the protocol; it is represented as an integer. Wallets simply move the decimal point X places to the left when displaying it to humans. Everything on the protocol level is done in satoshis. – Andrew Chow Dec 25 '17 at 7:12
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    I'm sorry, but the protocol documentation says you're wrong: bitcoin.org/en/developer-reference#txout. I am not intending to confuse or obfuscate anything; I am simply stating what is correct and pointing out that your explanation is partially incorrect. It is just as easy to say that the protocol uses satoshis and satoshis are secure because they are the base unit. – Andrew Chow Dec 25 '17 at 7:28
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    Andrew is completely correct of course, floating points are the human mechanism, satoshis are all that the transactions use – MeshCollider Dec 25 '17 at 21:57
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – MeshCollider Dec 26 '17 at 12:01

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