[Cryptography] Transactions, was BitCoin bug reported

ianG iang at iang.org
Sun Feb 16 17:30:15 EST 2014

On 16/02/2014 22:53 pm, John Levine wrote:
>> Now, this may seem to be just pedantry about wordage, but the issue is
>> that every user, caller, business, accountant, auditor, competitor,
>> regulator, and indeed person understands that a transaction is the ONE.
>> There is the transaction, full stop.
> Sheesh.  Here in the quaint United States, people still write a lot of
> paper checks (that's check with a "k".)  Back in my youth, the actual
> paper checks were routinely returned with my statements, but these
> days if you're lucky you'll get images of the checks on the statement,
> or sometimes just the check numbers.  
> The recipient can deposit the physical check at his bank, or he can
> make an image of the check using a device attached to a point of sale
> terminal, a scanner provided by the recipient's bank, or even by taking
> a picture of both sides with a mobile phone app.  In some cases where
> the check is processed by someone that still handles paper checks, the
> image is turned back into a substitute check, a piece of paper with a
> printout of the images and the marginal legend SUBSTITUTE CHECK.  Then
> the substitute is itself imaged and a picture of it shows up on my
> statement.

We can send a check (with or without a "k") to the bank.  Or many... we
can bounce them around until we fill a castle.  Sometimes called a

> Despite all that, all of those are the same check and the same
> transaction, even though the form of the transaction varies all over
> the place.  If I were to deposit a check in one account by taking a
> picture, and then physically deposit the check in another account, I
> am quite confident that at least one of those would bounce.  (I
> haven't tried it.)

Yes, it amounts to one transaction -- 1 or 0.  Many checks, one transaction.

As it happens, the "form" of a check in english banking tradition, as
inherited by the rest of the anglo world, is not set.  The explanatory
metaphor is that you can write a check on the side of a cow, drag it
into the bank and deposit it.

Which is to say, encoding can be quite versatile, before the transaction.

> If a bitcoin app doesn't recognize that two forms of the same
> transaction are in fact the same transaction, that's just a bug,
> not a philosophical event.

Nobody on the inside of the banking world mistakes a slip of paper or an
image or a cow for a transaction.

Certainly, outside the banking world, people simplify things.  Lingo is
imprecise, life too rushed.  "Check's in the mail!"  That's not
important, as long as everyone inside understands what is going on.

And, that includes merchants.  As long as merchants understand what it
takes to clear a check, all is golden.

Ask a merchant, those that hold risk on their understanding of what it
means to get a transaction;  they will tell you they take the check to
the bank, and pay for fast clearance.  I.e., to settle it, into a


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