What is Nonce?
A nonce is the abbreviation for “number used only once”, which is a number added to a chopped or encrypted block in a blockchain which, when reworked, meets the difficulty level restrictions. The nonce is the number that blockchain miners solve. When the solution is found, blockchain miners are offered cryptocurrency in exchange.
Key points to remember
- Nonce, or “number used only once,” refers to the first number a blockchain miner must discover before resolving a block in the blockchain.
- Once the mathematical calculations are solved by the miner, they are gifted with cryptocurrency for their time and skills.
- Nonce is hard to find and is considered a way to eliminate the less talented crypto miners.
- The world of crypto mining is tough, and you often need excellent computing power to even start trying to solve the nonce.
Blockchain is the cornerstone of cryptocurrency. In order to secure the blockchain, the data from previous blocks is encrypted or “hashed” into a series of numbers and letters. This is done by processing the block input via a function, which produces an output of a fixed length.
The function used to generate the hash is deterministic, which means that it will produce the same result each time the same input is used. It also means that the function can efficiently generate a hash input, it makes determining the input difficult (leading to exploration) and makes small changes to the input result in a very different hash. This complex system creates the blockchain confidentiality network.
Special Considerations: Discovery of the Nonce
Adding transactions to the blockchain requires significant computer processing power. The individuals and companies that process the blocks are called miners. Minors are only compensated if they are the first to create a hash that meets a certain set of requirements, called a target hash.
The hash guessing process begins in the block header. It contains the block version number, a timestamp, the hash used in the previous block, the hash of the Merkle root, the nonce, and the target hash.
Successful exploration of a block requires that a miner be the first to guess the nonce, which is a random string of numbers added to the chopped contents of the block and then reworked.
If the hash meets the requirements stated in the target, the block is added to the blockchain. Browsing the solutions to guess the nonce is called proof of work, and the miner who is able to find the value is awarded the block and paid in cryptocurrency.
Determining the string to use as a nonce requires a significant amount of trial and error, since it is a random string. A minor has to guess a nonce, add it to the hash of the current header, rewrite the value and compare it to the target hash. If the resulting hash value meets the requirements, the miner has created a solution and obtains the block.
It is very unlikely that a minor will succeed in guessing the nonce on the first try, which means that the minor can potentially test a large number of nonce options before getting it right. The greater the difficulty – a measure of the difficulty of creating a hash below the target – the more time it will likely take to generate a solution.
The blocking difficulty is kept the same throughout the network, which means that all minors have the same chance of finding the right hash. Cryptocurrency networks generally establish a target number of blocks they want to process for a specific period of time and periodically adjust the difficulty to ensure that this goal is achieved. If the number of blocks treated does not meet this objective, the difficulty will be reduced, the reduction of the difficulty being defined for the duration exceeding the limit of the treatment time.