Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is hard fork (a community-activated update to the protocol or code) of Bitcoin that took effect on August 1st, 2017 that increased the block size to 8MB, to help the scale the underlying technology of Bitcoin.Nov 16th 2018: BCH was hard forked again and split into Bitcoin SV and Bitcoin ABC. Bitcoin ABC became the dominant chain and took over the BCH ticker as it had more hashpower and majority of the nodes in the network.
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The would-be hard fork with an expanded block size limit was described by hardware manufacturer Bitmain in June 2017 as a "contingency plan" should the bitcoin community decide to fork; the first implementation of the software was proposed under the name Bitcoin ABC at a conference that month. In July 2017, the Bitcoin Cash name was proposed by mining pool ViaBTC. The change, called a fork, took effect on 1 August 2017. As a result, the bitcoin ledger called the blockchain and the cryptocurrency split in two.
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Both Bitcoin as well as Bitcoin Cash use a proof-of-work algorithm to timestamp every new block. The proof of work algorithm used is the same in both cases. It can be described as a partial inversion of a hash function. Additionally, both Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash target a new block to be generated every ten minutes on average. The time needed to calculate a new block is influenced by a parameter called the mining difficulty. If the total amount of mining power increases, an increase of the mining difficulty can keep the block time roughly constant. Vice versa, if the mining power decreases, a decrease of the mining difficulty can keep the block time roughly constant.
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To keep the block generation time equal to ten minutes on average, both Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash use an algorithm adjusting the mining difficulty parameter. This algorithm is called the difficulty adjustment algorithm (DAA). Originally, both Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash used the same difficulty adjustment algorithm, adjusting the mining difficulty parameter every 2016 blocks. Since 1 August 2017, Bitcoin Cash also used an addition to the DAA, called an Emergency Difficulty Adjustment (EDA) algorithm. EDA was used alongside the original DAA and it was designed to decrease the mining difficulty of Bitcoin Cash by 20%, if the time difference between 6 successive blocks was greater than 12 hours.