Bitcoin mining is the process of verifying and adding transaction records to the public ledger (known as the blockchain) of past Bitcoin transactions. This ledger of past transactions is known as the block chain as it is a chain of blocks.
The block chain serves to confirm transactions to the rest of the network as having taken place. Bitcoin nodes use the block chain to differentiate legitimate Bitcoin transactions from attempts to re-spend coins that have already been spent elsewhere.
Mining is also the mechanism used to introduce Bitcoins into the system: Miners are paid any transaction fees as well as a “subsidy” of newly created coins. This both serves the purpose of disseminating new coins in a decentralized manner as well as motivating people to provide security for the system through mining.
Bitcoin mining is so called because it resembles the mining of other commodities: it requires exertion and it slowly makes new currency available at a rate that resembles the rate at which commodities like gold are mined from the ground.
Bitcoin mining is a process used to verify and add transaction records to the public ledger (known as the blockchain) of past Bitcoin transactions.