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Author Topic: Increasing Zero towards unreachable difficulty ?  (Read 4245 times)
newIndia
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February 18, 2015, 12:02:56 AM
 #1

As I understand, with increasing difficulty, miners are trying to find hashes with less Zero in the left. Now, will not there be a stage when all will be zero or even before all become zero, there will be no hash found at certain no. of zero in the left ? How will mining continue then ?
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TheRealSteve
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February 18, 2015, 12:53:02 AM
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You might want to read through this:
https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Difficulty#What_is_the_maximum_difficulty.3F

On a more technical level - those miner developers that check for a fixed value and find that at the speed they're hashing they're finding enough valid nonces that the host system is getting taxed (as the host checks whether the used nonce results in 1. a hash that counts as a valid share for a given pool and/or 2. a hash that meets the Bitcoin block target difficulty, will probably adjust their hardware to check for a more difficult fixed value.  In essence something that's already been done at pools for their share difficulty, as very high hash rate machines were just hammering the network connections.  We're a long, long way from even that being an issue on a Bitcoin block target though.
The leading zeros description is a simplification, but even just taking that, try working out the effect on the difficulty of adding a leading zero requirement, and what that would mean for the average network hash rate in order to (ideally) find a solution every 10 minutes.

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February 18, 2015, 02:31:37 PM
 #3

Yes.....difficulty is increasing so rapidly day by day !!!
>.> I don't know if you're being sarcastic but that isn't how Bitcoin works. Difficulty readjust every 2016 blocks, which is usually about 2 weeks.














 

 

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newIndia
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February 18, 2015, 09:55:11 PM
 #4

Yes.....difficulty is increasing so rapidly day by day !!!
>.> I don't know if you're being sarcastic but that isn't how Bitcoin works. Difficulty readjust every 2016 blocks, which is usually about 2 weeks.

In the situation I predicted above, if a block hash is not found due to very low target, then the question of difficulty adjustment after 2016 blocks wont arise.
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February 18, 2015, 10:16:46 PM
 #5

In the situation I predicted above, if a block hash is not found due to very low target, then the question of difficulty adjustment after 2016 blocks wont arise.
The situation you 'predicted' is entirely academic.

The only reason the target would be so low is because the overall network speed is high enough that blocks get solved on average every 10 minutes the last 2016 blocks.  The only reason it would 'not be found' would be because the overall network speed would drop dramatically.

Can you think of any practical situation in which that would occur?

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February 20, 2015, 09:42:48 PM
 #6

The hashrate isn't really increasing since the lower value of bitcoin, it might be possible that the difficulty won't adjust much..

Look at the hash-rate
https://blockchain.info/charts/hash-rate

The difficulty is kind of stable as well
https://blockchain.info/nl/charts/difficulty
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February 20, 2015, 09:57:50 PM
 #7

Or it might go up by a few percent: https://bitcoinwisdom.com/bitcoin/difficulty

The situation sketched by the OP though was a theoretical one, and one that in reality wouldn't occur - an unreachable difficulty would imply an unreachable hash rate existed before that.  Even if it did occur - i.e. a whole period without a single block mined, say because every hardware miner suddenly disappeared from existence - the next period would have difficulty reset to scratch, and you'd finally be able to put this to practical use: http://gizmodo.com/mining-bitcoin-with-pencil-and-paper-1640353309

newIndia
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March 01, 2015, 01:49:01 PM
 #8

Or it might go up by a few percent: https://bitcoinwisdom.com/bitcoin/difficulty

The situation sketched by the OP though was a theoretical one, and one that in reality wouldn't occur - an unreachable difficulty would imply an unreachable hash rate existed before that.  Even if it did occur - i.e. a whole period without a single block mined, say because every hardware miner suddenly disappeared from existence - the next period would have difficulty reset to scratch, and you'd finally be able to put this to practical use: http://gizmodo.com/mining-bitcoin-with-pencil-and-paper-1640353309

I think you are missing a point that I am trying to emphasize. HashRate is a direct derivative of electricity consumed. But, Difficulty is a time taken to find hashes in last Difficulty cycle. New Difficulty is determined by stepping up the previous one to keep the rate to find blocks at 10 min each. Now this stepping up of Difficulty is a statistical one and there might be a point where no block hash exist simply for mathematical reason. This is a blind zone and if difficulty enters this zone and no block hash is found, then network will not get the opportunity to bring the difficulty down as it requires 2016 blocks for another Difficulty re-calculation.

I would like to know how the above situation will be handled if and when we get into this blind zone ?
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March 01, 2015, 02:30:57 PM
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I think you are missing a point that I am trying to emphasize. HashRate is a direct derivative of electricity consumed.
I have no idea where you're getting that notion.  On a larger overview of history, power consumption went down for a while as ASICs were introduced that were far more efficient giving vastly more hashing power for a given power consumption, which drowned out all the power-hungry CPUs and GPUs, going back up again because more of those same ASICs were being throw into mining, back down again a bit because they got more efficient, back up because more miners but not as much because a lot of people are trying to mine more for power efficiency than maximum hashing power.
Also, this is completely unrelated to what we were talking about, so let's move on...

But, Difficulty is a time taken to find hashes in last Difficulty cycle. New Difficulty is determined by stepping up the previous one to keep the rate to find blocks at 10 min each. Now this stepping up of Difficulty is a statistical one and there might be a point where no block hash exist simply for mathematical reason.
And this is where you'll have to explain the mathematical reason that you're thinking of that would lead to that situation.

This is a blind zone and if difficulty enters this zone and no block hash is found, then network will not get the opportunity to bring the difficulty down as it requires 2016 blocks for another Difficulty re-calculation.

I would like to know how the above situation will be handled if and when we get into this blind zone ?
So what I guess you're asking is: should the impossible (or, depending on your mathematical reason: highly unlikely but academically possible) occur, is there a fail safe for difficulty adjustment that is bound to something other than the block chain length?  In which case, I believe the answer is that there currently is no such fail safe, but I'd suspect one would get added if there were reason to believe it were imminent - and probably no sooner.

There are existing discussions on this elsewhere, just google for something like 'bitcoin unsolvable block' or 'minimum target' / 'maximum difficulty', though none deal with how to deal with that issue ... simply because every discussion concedes that it's impossible to ever get into that state ('blind zone' per your terms); something you'll have to counter Smiley

Note that one situation which is theorized to exist is that for a given block header, there is no nonce that will yield a hash that falls below the target difficulty.  But that's not an issue, because there's other fields that can be manipulated, transactions can be moved around, excluded, included, etc.  One practical example of this lies in ASIC chip design.  I don't remember whose it was, but one of them has a known limited nonce range making it more likely to, eventually, be unable to solve a block without adjusting inputs.  Of course by then that hardware is obsolete anyway.

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March 09, 2015, 02:52:10 AM
 #10

Yes.....difficulty is increasing so rapidly day by day !!!
It is going to be too much effort for not enough reward soon if it already isn't  Cry

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March 11, 2015, 02:29:11 AM
 #11

Yes.....difficulty is increasing so rapidly day by day !!!
It is going to be too much effort for not enough reward soon if it already isn't  Cry
Especially when the halving occurs. I see miners turning off their units, and possibly a rise in the btc price to compensate for the halving.
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March 11, 2015, 10:50:07 AM
 #12

Just to nip the derailment about what the difficulty is currently doing in the bud...

I'd still like to hear from newIndia what the mathematical explanation would be for the situation proffered in the leading posts.

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March 16, 2015, 07:45:45 PM
 #13

In the situation I predicted above, if a block hash is not found due to very low target, then the question of difficulty adjustment after 2016 blocks wont arise.
The situation you 'predicted' is entirely academic.

The only reason the target would be so low is because the overall network speed is high enough that blocks get solved on average every 10 minutes the last 2016 blocks.  The only reason it would 'not be found' would be because the overall network speed would drop dramatically.

Can you think of any practical situation in which that would occur?





This will happen when the zombie apocalypse comes.  But then, no one will give a flip about BitCoin.  Ill be up on the roof, scoring spectacular headshots with my Ruger 10/22 .22 rifle.
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March 19, 2015, 01:08:27 AM
 #14

It would have to be decreased slowly with large farms shutting down, then in a matter of seconds the blocks would be mined up when it is close to 0.
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March 19, 2015, 01:27:47 AM
 #15

It would have to be decreased slowly with large farms shutting down, then in a matter of seconds the blocks would be mined up when it is close to 0.
That still wouldn't cause the situation suggested by newIndia.

Simplisticly speaking: let's say all the farms, pools and individual miners (~330Phash/s) shut down... to the point where a single Block Erupter USB (~330Mhash/s or 1/1,000,000,000th of the hash rate) gets on average 10 minutes per block, and the difficulty adjusts to exactly that level.
Then all of those farms and pools come back online, and all 2016 blocks for that period end up getting mined not in 2 weeks (20,160 minutes), but in 20,160 minutes/1,000,000,0000 ~= 0.0012 second. (there's very practical reasons why that, currently, can't even happen, but let's roll with it).
The difficulty adjusts for that by making the difficulty.. 1,000,000,000 times as high - and we're back to 10 minutes per block for ~330Phash/s.

The difficulty adjustment is purely based on the previous period and a target; It doesn't attempt to compensate for any relative growth/decline.

A coin that did do so in a very naive way would have a bad time in the above scenario, as it could interpret the 1,000,000,000 times as high thing as a trend (expecting it to be another 1,000,000,000 times as high for the next period) and compensate by setting the difficulty 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 times as high.  But..that doesn't apply to Bitcoin.

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September 16, 2015, 01:30:53 PM
 #16

Simplisticly speaking: let's say all the farms, pools and individual miners (~330Phash/s) shut down... to the point where a single Block Erupter USB (~330Mhash/s or 1/1,000,000,000th of the hash rate) gets on average 10 minutes per block

Main trouble with that scenario is that getting the difficulty to adjust to such a change would take 10 diff adjustements (4^10 approx 1e6), which means a year or more best case... if the hashrate goes down faster, it could quickly end up needing decades, centuries or more to get through those 20160 blocks.

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September 16, 2015, 02:21:33 PM
 #17

Sure, but such a scenario is 1: highly unlikely (and OP never bothered to clarify their thoughts on this) and 2: just because it would take a long time, doesn't mean it wouldn't still occur.  That's not the same as 'unreachable', not even by a long shot.



Continuation from other thread:
If the hashrate is cut in half,
[...]
in your hypothetical 330 PH to 330 MH case
[...]
If the block erupter is alone
If, hypothetical, if - all of which highly unlikely at best.

So it's far from a  mental exercice.
Paint me a picture of situations in which the above may occur in the Bitcoin network, assign a probability factor.

Even in one such highly unlikely situation, you said it yourself:
it just would never be able to get through those 20160 blocks in any reasonable timeframe
Emphasis mine - that's not the same as "not enough hashrate to solve new blocks"

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September 17, 2015, 10:38:53 AM
 #18

Sure, but such a scenario is 1: highly unlikely (and OP never bothered to clarify their thoughts on this) and 2: just because it would take a long time, doesn't mean it wouldn't still occur.  That's not the same as 'unreachable', not even by a long shot.

The cascade of lower profitability per day due to longer block times makes it possible, and also while it would still theoretically occur, if it takes 10 years to get back to 10 minutes block times, bitcoin is as good as dead for all practical purposes.

Paint me a picture of situations in which the above may occur in the Bitcoin network, assign a probability factor.
If BTC price does not at least double by the time the halving happens, then a good chunk of the miners will be turned off with a 100% probability, either pre-emptively or through bankruptcy.
Only the efficient facilities show a profit with current price and reward these days.

So this all boil down to whether the price will reverse its current trend until halving, the probability of this being unclear at best.

it just would never be able to get through those 20160 blocks in any reasonable timeframe
Emphasis mine - that's not the same as "not enough hashrate to solve new blocks"

Actually no, at some point miners would just give up and the blockchain would be stuck until a hard fork artificially and immediately reduces difficulty.

This is not hypothetical, this has been happening to altcoins.

Since most miners are in it for profit, once profitability falls because it takes too long to find blocks, they just move on, which makes it even harder for those left, until almost no one is mining anymore, at which point no new blocks come out and are solved (or if they are, it's with many days between them), eventually resulting in a dead blockchain.

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September 17, 2015, 12:07:16 PM
 #19

I'm not sure pointing to altcoins - the majority of which that have failed have been mine-it-for-all-its-worth-then-dump-it - makes for a strong anecdotal case, but in terms of Bitcoin your argument seems to lean mostly on the reward halving causing a mass exodus of miners to the point where block intervals are sufficiently long that additional miners also lose interest.  Fair enough.  I still don't think that makes it unreachable/impossible to mine/etc; OP's original argument was that things would effectively be permanently stuck.  Whether or not it kills off a coin as a viable [insert marketing term du jour] is another matter.  We'll find out the answer to that soon enough Smiley

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September 22, 2015, 11:06:36 PM
 #20

I'm not sure pointing to altcoins - the majority of which that have failed have been mine-it-for-all-its-worth-then-dump-it - makes for a strong anecdotal case, but in terms of Bitcoin your argument seems to lean mostly on the reward halving causing a mass exodus of miners to the point where block intervals are sufficiently long that additional miners also lose interest.  Fair enough.  I still don't think that makes it unreachable/impossible to mine/etc; OP's original argument was that things would effectively be permanently stuck.  Whether or not it kills off a coin as a viable [insert marketing term du jour] is another matter.  We'll find out the answer to that soon enough Smiley

While it's an interesting argument/possibility, I think it's a VERY remote possibility. Just look at bitcoinwisdom as a an example. If it were to start showing a decline of say -20% estimate for the next adjustment, there is a lot of mining gear that would get turned right back on. I think that for many miners, when it gear gets unprofitable, it goes idle. It doesn't get destroyed immediately. If it gets sold to somebody, they didn't buy it so they could destroy it, they bought it to mine with it. I think the actual decline of mining capacity will happen slowly (i.e. weeks and months). I think it's more likely that some miners will attempt to sell their gear in anticipation of the halving, because they expect a major decline in the resale value.

There are so many ways to look at the halving, it's crazy to get an accurate guess of what will happen.
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