[Bitcoin-development] Version bits proposal

Tier Nolan tier.nolan at gmail.com
Wed May 27 11:26:33 UTC 2015

On Wed, May 27, 2015 at 11:15 AM, Peter Todd <pete at petertodd.org> wrote:

> The median time mechanism is basically a way for hashing power to show
> what time they think it is. Equally, the nVersion soft-fork mechanism is
> a way for hashing power to show what features they want to support.
Fair enough.  It means slightly more processing, but the median time could
be cached in the header index, so no big deal.

Block counts are inconvenient for planning, as there's no guarantee
> they'll actually happen in any particular time frame, forward and back.

I don't think the deadline needs to be set that accurately.  A roughly 6
month deadline should be fine, but as you say a majority of miners is
needed to abuse the median time and it is already a miner poll.

Perhaps the number of blocks used in the median could be increased to
reduce "noise".

The median time could be median of the last 144 blocks plus 12 hours.

> If you assume no large reorganizations, your table of known BIPs can
> just as easily be a list of block heights even if the median time
> mechanism is used.

I think it makes it easier to write the code.  It reduced the state that
needs to be stored per BIP.  You don't need to check if the previous bips
were all accepted.

Each bit is assigned to a particular BIP for a particular range of times
(or blocks).

If block numbers were used for the deadline, you just need to check the
block index for the deadline block.

enum {

int GetBIPState(block, bip)
    if (block.height == bip.deadline)  // Bit must be set to match
locked/unlocked at deadline
        int bipState = check_supermajority(...);
        if (bipState == BIP_LOCKED && (block.nVersion & bip.bit)
            return BIP_LOCKED;

        if (bipState != BIP_LOCKED && (block.nVersion & (~bip.bit)))
            return BIP_INACTIVE;

        return BIP_INVALID_BLOCK;

    if (block.height > deadline) // Look at the deadline block to determine
if the BIP is locked
        return (block_index[deadline].nVersion & bip_bit) != 0 ? BIP_LOCKED

    if (block.height < startline + I) // BIP cannot activate/lock until
startline + implicit window size
        return INACTIVE;

    return check_supermajority(....) // Check supermajority of bit

The block at height deadline would indicate if the BIP was locked in.

Block time could still be used as long as the block height was set after
that.  The deadline_time could be in six months.  The startline height
could be the current block height and the deadline_height could be
startline + 35000.

The gives roughly

start time = now
deadline time = now + six months
deadline height = now + eight months

The deadline height is the block height when the bit is returned to the
pool but the deadline time is when the BIP has to be accepted.

It also helps with the warning system.  For each block height, there is a
set of known BIP bits that are allowed.  Once the final deadline is passed,
the expected mask is zeros.

On Wed, May 27, 2015 at 11:15 AM, Jorge Timón <jtimon at jtimon.cc> wrote:

> On May 27, 2015 11:35 AM, "Tier Nolan" <tier.nolan at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Was the intention to change the 95% rule.  You need 750 of the last 1000
> to activate and then must wait at least 1000 for implication?
> You need 75% to start applying it, 95% to start rejecting blocks that
> don't apply it.

I think the phrasing is ambiguous.  I was just asking for clarification.

"Whenever I out of any W *subsequent* blocks (regardless of the block
itself) have bit B set,"

That suggests that the I of W blocks for the 95% rule must happen after
activation.  This makes the rule checking harder.  Easier to use the
current system, where blocks that were part of the 750 rule also count
towards the 95% rule.
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