One minute to let you understand why the blockchain is split


Blockchain must be a well-known new technology now. You must have heard about the bifurcation in the blockchain industry. Bifurcation is the core of blockchain experience, similar to system upgrade. “Branching” a chain is essentially to make changes to the software running the blockchain. According to different situations, there are many problems caused by bifurcation, some of which can reach a consensus soon, some of which are very controversial.

One minute to let you understand why the blockchain is split


If there’s a difference, there’s a fork

In the centralized system, the software upgrade is very simple, only need to patch or the compatibility of some functions and other iterative updates. In the decentralized system, upgrading is far from easy. It needs to reach a consensus among all nodes or traders in the chain. When some major functional improvements are made, they are often opposed by some people in the community. Once more than two-thirds of the people disagree, they have to choose other ways to create their own protocols and branch blockchains, and then bifurcation will occur.

In bitcoin, it passesBitcoin software(also known as bitcoin protocol), which defines rules for everyone, includingBlock size, rewards for miners, etc。 If everyone uses bitcoin, they have to agree to the agreement. Like the laws of the state, everyone has to comply.

However, not only bitcoin, but also other cryptocurrencies. As a software project, there is always something to improve. Therefore, technology update and development are basically forward-looking. Bitcoin developers solve problems or enhance functions by updating software (bitcoin protocol).

In short, as long as there are disagreements and protocol improvements (new and upgraded) in the blockchain network, there may be bifurcation.


How to realize bifurcation

In fact, when it comes to bifurcations, it’s not hard for us to understand. Taking bitcoin as an example, we can divide bitcoin bifurcations into two categories: bitcoin protocol and storage trading system.

One minute to let you understand why the blockchain is split

Bitcoin protocol is completely open-source. If you want to create your own branch blockchain, you need to copy the source code of bitcoin software first, and then modify it according to your own needs. Finally, bitcoin starts to branch and take effect through the specified block number, which is equivalent to the timing instruction in the centralized system program. For example, it can be specified that when the block number reaches 10000, the branching will take effect. When the instruction transmitted by the block number reaches the community, it will be divided into two parts. One part supports the original protocol and the other part supports the branching protocol. Then each part will add new blocks to the chain they support again.


Bifurcation type and impact

Every code upgrade of bitcoin network needs the consensus of bitcoin community. If the community fails to reach an agreement, it may form a fork. In a simple word, fork means that there is a conflict during the upgrade, resulting in the block chain fork. According to whether the forked blockchain is compatible with the old block, the fork is divided into soft fork and hard fork.

One minute to let you understand why the blockchain is split

Soft bifurcation

Soft fork refers to the forward compatible fork in blockchain or decentralized network.Forward compatibility means that when the new consensus rules are published, the nodes in the decentralized architecture do not have to upgrade to the new consensus rules, because the new rules of the soft fork still conform to the old rules, so the nodes not upgraded can still accept the new rules.

Influence of soft bifurcation:

(1) Soft fork usually does not produce two chains, because the blocks generated under the new rules will be accepted by the old nodes. The old nodes just can’t recognize the true meaning of the new rules, and the new and old nodes are still on the same blockchain, which has little impact on the whole system.

(2) Because the soft fork must be forward compatible, that is, it cannot add new fields, and can only be modified under the existing structure, so the upgrade space is limited.

(3) Hard bifurcations are usually extended consensus rules, while soft bifurcations are contraction consensus rules, so once soft bifurcations are carried out, it is very difficult to back off, which is likely to cause hard bifurcations.

Hard forking

One minute to let you understand why the blockchain is split

Hard fork refers to the fork that cannot be forward compatible in blockchain or decentralized network。 The old node rejects the block generated by the new rule, and the new node and the old node will run on different blockchains, each continuing the chain that they think is correct, and divided into two chains.

Effect of hard bifurcations:

(1) The hard fork causes the miners to swing indefinitely. The miners need to consider the willingness of the users holding the coins, and the chain to obtain more investment users’ approval is the choice in line with the interests of the miners.

(2) The trading platform is relatively easy. It only needs to be neutral and do a good job of replay protection, with relatively small impact.

(3) In terms of currency price, the new currency after the hard fork needs to get investor support again. The currency price may rise or fall, and the prospect is entirely determined by the market.

(4) After the hard bifurcation, the computing power of the whole coin is dispersed. It may not be so easy to regain the computing power and popularity.


Written in the end

In the widely distributed open source code base, when not all nodes copy the same information, the fork will happen accidentally. However, these bifurcations are usually identified and resolved, and most cryptocurrency bifurcations are due to differences in embedded features.