Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency
A cryptocurrency is a medium of exchange using cryptography to secure the transactions and to control the creation of additional units of the currency. Cryptocurrencies are a subset of alternative currencies, or specifically of digital currencies.
Bitcoin became the first decentralized cryptocurrency in 2009. Since then, numerous cryptocurrencies have been created. These are frequently called altcoins, as a blend of bitcoin alternative.
Cryptocurrencies use decentralized control as opposed to centralized electronic money/centralized banking systems. The decentralized control is related to the use of bitcoin's blockchain transaction database in the role of a distributed ledger.
What is SHA-2 ??
SHA-2 is a set of cryptographic hash functions designed by the National Security Agency (Remember Snowden??). SHA stands for Secure Hash Algorithm. Cryptographic hash functions are mathematical operations run on digital data; by comparing the computed "hash" (the output from execution of the algorithm) to a known and expected hash value, a person can determine the data's integrity. For example, computing the hash of a downloaded file and comparing the result to a previously published hash result can show whether the download has been modified or tampered with. A key aspect of cryptographic hash functions is their collision resistance: nobody should be able to find two different input values that result in the same hash output.
SHA-2 includes significant changes from its predecessor, SHA-1. The SHA-2 family consists of six hash functions with digests (hash values) that are 224, 256, 384 or 512 bits: SHA-224, SHA-256, SHA-384, SHA-512, SHA-512/224, SHA-512/256.
SHA-256 and SHA-512 are novel hash functions computed with 32-bit and 64-bit words, respectively. They use different shift amounts and additive constants, but their structures are otherwise virtually identical, differing only in the number of rounds. SHA-224 and SHA-384 are simply truncated versions of the first two, computed with different initial values. SHA-512/224 and SHA-512/256 are also truncated versions of SHA-512, but the initial values are generated using the method described in Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) PUB 180-4. SHA-2 was published in 2001 by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) a U.S. federal standard (FIPS). The SHA-2 family of algorithms are patented in US patent 6829355. The United States has released the patent under a royalty-free license.
In 2005, an algorithm emerged for finding SHA-1 collisions in about 2,000-times fewer steps than was previously thought possible. Although (as of 2015) no example of a SHA-1 collision has been published yet, the security margin left by SHA-1 is weaker than intended, and its use is therefore no longer recommended for applications that depend on collision resistance, such as digital signatures. Although SHA-2 bears some similarity to the SHA-1 algorithm, these attacks have not been successfully extended to SHA-2