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Bitcoin miningThe process that validates new Bitcoin transactions and adds them to a distributed ledger known as the blockchain. Bitcoin miners are "full nodes" throughout the Bitcoin network that compete with each other to publish a new block of transactions by solving a mathematical puzzle. The puzzle takes a massive amount of calculations to solve and ensures that miners spend time and resources using specialized custom-designed hardware to perform trillions of calculations. Miners may join together in a pool to accomplish the task.
The first miner to solve the puzzle and provide "Proof-of-Work" (PoW) publishes the block and is rewarded with new Bitcoins that it generates for itself along with transaction fees. If two miners solve the puzzle at the exact same time, the miner that did the most computational work is the winner. The extra work that is required is what keeps fraudulent miners away, because they might as well do valid Bitcoin work and glean the profits.
The Maximum Number of Bitcoins Is 21 Million
The Bitcoin algorithm ensures that the amount of new coins the miner generates for itself is cut in half every four years, which dramatically slows down new coin generation as time passes. By 2017, there were approximately 16 million Bitcoins in existence. However, the total is capped at 21 million, which will occur by approximately 2140. From then on, miners' revenue will come only from transaction fees.
Proponents claim that the capped total of coins makes Bitcoin sound money, similar to having physical bars of gold. Just like an ounce of gold, the market may change its daily value, but a devaluation cannot occur due to inflating the Bitcoin money supply. See Bitcoin and proof of work algorithm.