Orphan block – What it is, definition and concept | 2023

An orphaned block is that block that is solved but not validated to lodge it in a chain of blocks or blockchain.

That is to say, it is a block that, since it does not belong to any chain of blocks, is expelled from the system and has no value. This usually happens when the blockchain technology or the project itself does not take into account certain situations that can cause this wrong fact.

To do this, as these types of anomalies have been identified, they have been resolved in the project code itself or in the way of acting in the blockchain processes.

How Orphaned Blocks Arise

At the beginning of blockchain technology, as in any other technology, there were several anomalies and situations that were classified as process errors. One of the most striking errors was when a solved block appeared on the network, but was not finally included.

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Because? The question is quite simple, since there are only two known ways in which an orphaned block appears:

  • For not knowing its parent block.
  • For having originated simultaneously with another block at the same time solving the same problem.

In the first case, the flaw was resolved by rejecting any block whose origin is not known. In this way, the network would remain immaculate and would not have any accounting flaws.

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In the second case, although both blocks are accepted a priori, the block that achieves the highest validation and PoW (Proof of Work) first is the one that is finally incorporated into the network. With this, a single rule is achieved that resolves this ‘tie’ between miners.

Therefore, even if these rare anomalies do occur, there is already a process by which they are controlled.

Example of an orphan block case

In November 2020, two miners simultaneously solved the same problem on the Bitcoin network.

The blocks according to cointelegraph.com were mined by F2Pool and Slush, two organized blockchain mining pools. In addition, these blocks were opened by two other companies specialized in the sector: BTC.com and Binance.

The fact is that the situation drew attention and produced some uncertainty in the confidence of the technology and the network, since a double transaction cost was assumed when using both blocks. Not so, both companies denied that there was double spending or damage. One of the blocks was discarded and the other was added to the network, being the one that ultimately obtained the highest validation.

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