What is an address?
Amanda avatar
Written by Amanda
Updated over a week ago

An address in the context of blockchain and cryptocurrencies is a unique identifier used to represent the ownership of cryptocurrency tokens or assets. It is essential for enabling secure and efficient transactions on the network. Addresses are generated from public keys, and they play a crucial role in identifying the owners of private keys without revealing the private keys themselves.

Here are the key points to understand about addresses:

1. Users Control Private Keys: In the blockchain ecosystem, users have control over their private keys, which are used to sign transactions and prove ownership of their assets.

2. Derived from Public Keys: Addresses are derived from corresponding public keys, which are part of a public-private key pair used in cryptographic systems like secp256k1.

3. Addressing Schemes: Different blockchain networks and virtual machines may have their own unique addressing schemes. For example, the Avalanche network has different addressing systems for its C-Chain, X-Chain, and P-Chain.

4. Address Generation: The process of generating addresses varies based on the virtual machine. In the case of Avalanche's C-Chain, the address is derived by applying a hashing function (keccak256) to the byte array of a secp256k1 public key and then truncating the hash to the first 20 bytes.

5. Bech32 Encoding: Avalanche has conventions for distributing readable addresses, and all addresses are Bech32 encoded. Bech32 is a checksummed encoding format that helps ensure accurate address representation.

6. Address Representation: Avalanche addresses are represented as hexadecimal values and are usually prefixed with the network's specific identifier, such as "avax" for Avalanche's mainnet or "local" for a custom network.

Examples of addresses:

- P-Chain Address: P-avax1am4w6hfrvmh3akduzkjthrtgtqafalce6an8cr

- X-Chain Address: X-avax1kj06lhgx84h39snsljcey3tpc046ze68mek3g5

Interpreting the examples:

- The prefix "P-" or "X-" indicates the specific chain the address belongs to (P-Chain or X-Chain, respectively).

- The chain ID or alias may be prepended to the address for clarity and readability (e.g., "11111111111111111111111111111111LpoYY-avax1kj06lhgx84h39snsljcey3tpc046ze68mek3g5").

Remember that different blockchain networks may have their own unique conventions and standards for addressing, so it's essential to follow the specific rules of the network you are using.

For any additional questions, please view our other knowledge base articles or contact a support team member via the chat button. Examples are for illustrative purposes only.

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