Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) has given a specific date for when her long-awaited crypto regulator bill will be unveiled. The legislation will help to sort cryptocurrencies under appropriate regulatory labels and federal jurisdictions. According to a tweet from the senator on Friday, the final version of her bill will be released on Tuesday, June 7th. Lummis has spent months working on the bill alongside Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), announcing it as early December 2021. The bill will reportedly provide sweeping…
As the world learns more and more about cryptocurrencies, many non-technical investors frequently discover new notions. Today, we will spend some time on the concept of “nonce,” a famous idea among IT experts.
Our article simplifies the notion for non-technical readers, focusing on the importance of the nonce mechanism in cryptocurrencies.
A Concept Born Before Cryptocurrencies
A nonce is a random or semi-random number that cryptographers have known and used for decades. The term “nonce” stands for “number used once,” a typical cryptographic security concept.
A nonce changes over time to prevent its reuse from malicious counterparties that may access sensitive data by using it.
The clearest example of nonce value is a timestamp (e.g., December 11th, 2001 04:00:00). Some applications automatically update login timestamps to identify unique user sessions. The same happens with website visit counters, with a system updating it once a user opens a page.
Before talking about cryptocurrencies, the next section will provide information on categorizing a nonce.
Different Types of Nonce
Depending on how a developer created a nonce, we may encounter different categories:
- A random nonce is the result of the arbitrary concatenation of numbers.
- A Pseudo-random nonce comes from a rather complex algorithm that makes the outcome appear random (while it is not).
- A Sequential nonce is the output of an incremental system.
The two examples we mentioned above (timestamp and visit counter) are two schoolbook members of the sequential group.
Cryptographic Use and Blockchain Intuition
Developers generally manage to employ a nonce in a broad set of fields. If we were to mention a few of them, we could include the following:
- Handling access of users to a system: nonce values can help manage users’ identities in a system. Specifically, they can play a relevant role in account recovery, single sign-on (SSO), and two-factor authentication.
- Using electronic signatures: this technology sometimes utilizes secret nonce values to produce, compare, and validate signatures.
The two cases we mentioned above clearly share two common factors: security and data encryption. If we begin our reasoning from these two applications, the way blockchain technology exploits nonce values is clearer:
- Hashing: Proof of Work (PoW) systems extensively use nonce values to vary the input to a cryptographic hash function. This mechanism aids in the fulfillment of arbitrary requirements and the provision of a chosen level of difficulty.
- Cryptocurrencies: in the crypto sector, a nonce enables the construction of a cryptographic hash that links coins to a blockchain.
A Real-Life Case: Bitcoin Nonce
A bitcoin block’s “nonce” consists of a 32-bit field; miners typically play on this value during their technical operations. Specifically, a Bitcoin miner aims to find a hash code lower or equal to the network’s target.
By changing the nonce of a potential block, miners obtain a different hash code. The mining operation is successful whenever they have a hash accepted by the system.
We are simplifying the matter, especially considering that miners can change other variables besides the nonce. However, considering the hype on Bitcoin mining operations, our explanation is sufficient to grasp nonce’s importance.
Aa golden nonce produces a hash value lower than the objective in BTC mining.
Mining is challenging because there seems to be no precise rule to find the best nonce (hence, the hash). The random nature of the system pushers miners to try countless combinations on an algorithm.
A popular data collector estimates the number of Bitcoin miners to be close to 1 million. It is not easy to understand that BTC mining is a highly demanding operation in terms of computational energy.
Do Other Cryptocurrencies Use Nonce Values?
It would be a mistake to connect the idea of nonce values exclusively to Bitcoin mining. Ethereum, for example, also relies on this sort of technological trick.
Every transaction in Ethereum has a corresponding nonce value. The nonce is the number of transactions sent from a specific address in a certain period.
When you submit a transaction, the nonce rises by one with each transaction. As you may guess, there are strict rules governing which transactions are legitimate. The nonce value is how the system checks the application of a set of rules.
Because the nonce sorts the transactions on Ethereum, this field helps avoid double-spending. Following our reasoning, you will quickly understand that Ethereum’s nonce belongs to the sequential macro-group.
The term “nonce,” which refers to a “number only used once,” has an essential role in major blockchains. As discussed, nonce values have extensive applications in many sectors, and crypto mining is one of them.
Several blockchains use these values, and they are an essential part of the data encryption functionality in a decentralized system.