Difficulty – What is the difficulty of mining?
Difficulty (diff) is a parameter that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies use to keep the average time between blocks stable as the network’s hash power changes.
How does difficulty ( diff ) work?
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies use proof-of-work blockchains that are maintained through a process called mining. In this system, miners — computers that run the cryptocurrency’s software clients — compete to find a new block, adding the most recent batch of transaction data to the chain. They receive fees and (in some cases) new tokens in return.
The time it takes to find a new block is subject to two factors: random chance and difficulty. Start with random chance. Miners take a bunch of transaction data and run it through a hash algorithm, a one-way function – given a specific set of data – will always produce the same output, but their output does not. Reversible to display original data. There is no way to predict what the hash will be. A new block is found when the hash meets a certain requirement. Since each tuple has only one output for a given hash, miners must add a zero – a “one-time use number” – to the data to get a new hash. If the result still does not meet the requirements, the miner will try again with a new open.
See more: What is a Merkle Tree?
The hash requirement must be met in proportion to the difficulty: a valid hash must be below a certain target value that is automatically set (and adjusted periodically) by the cryptocurrency’s protocol. The lower the target value, the more iterations of the hash function must go through to get an acceptable result – in other words, the higher the difficulty. Theoretically, a miner could get lucky and get a valid hash for a given block on the first attempt: over time, however, higher difficulty means that miners cascade has to plug more per block on average. (See also: How does Bitcoin work?
Meaning of difficulty ( diff )
Why set the difficulty higher, if the only real result is miners having to repeat the same function more? The bitcoin white paper explains:
“To compensate for increasing hardware speed and changing preference for running nodes over time, job difficulty is determined by a moving average targeting the average number of blocks per hour. If they are generated too quickly, the difficulty increases. “
Bitcoin is designed to add a new block to the blockchain every 10 minutes on average. When Satoshi Nakamoto mined the first block, there was only one machine on the network – be it a laptop or a simple desktop. Today there are a number of large, massive ASIC farms. (ASICs are machines specifically designed to plow through hash functions as quickly as possible).
To ensure that the network generates a new block at a steady average rate, the software is set up to automatically adjust the target hashes up or down, resulting in lower or higher difficulty, respectively. When Nakamoto mined the genesis block, the bitcoin difficulty was 1.
As of the end of January 2019, it was 5,883,077,300,218,593. The chart below shows bitcoin’s difficulty change over time:
To check bitcoin difficulty in real time you can refer to this chart.
What is Bitcoin?
What is cryptocurrency?
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