Block Height

Article byJyotsna Suthar
Edited byShreya Bansal
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What Is Block Height?

Block height in blockchain refers to the order allocated to the blocks after the first block or genesis block gets created. The purpose of this height is to determine the distance of the current block from the initial block and not the actual height. 

Block Height

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The first block created in Bitcoin had a standard height of zero. Later, as blocks get added to the blockchain, the sequence of numbers continues. Thus, users can use this height to track or locate a significant block within the network. However, two blockchains may have different heights due to different block times. 

Key Takeaways

  • Block height refers to the sequence of the blocks from the genesis block to the newest block. It determines the order of the blocks on the blockchain. 
  • The initial or genesis block has a height of zero. However, the next block mined owns the height 1, and other blocks follow the same process. 
  • It is an indicator to navigate and extract data from a block. However, two blocks may compete to have the same height. 
  • Different blockchains have various heights depending on the ecosystem and mining protocols. Users can calculate it by dividing the total time by the average block time.  

Block Height Explained

Block height is a sequence number decided on the blocks added to the blockchain. It acts as an identity created for the blocks after the genesis block. Thus, crypto users can quickly locate blocks with this number. For instance, if the genesis block has a zero height, the next block mined will have a height of 1. Likewise, the sequence will continue until the preceding blocks continue to form the chain. Here, the genesis block has a nil height in the blockchain, as there are no blocks before it. However, this block is the only exception to the rule. 

In blockchain, the total height of the chain depends on the blocks added. Thus, with the inclusion of blocks, the height also increases. It is directly proportional to the number of validated blocks. Likewise, it is possible to calculate the current height of the entire chain. However, two blocks may sometimes have similar heights in the identical blockchain. It usually occurs when two miners are competitive enough to add their blocks to the chain. As a result, the fork gets created and tags one block as an orphan. Likewise, the frequency of the same height also reduces in the later stages of the chain formation. Yet, the two blockchains do have different heights. 

No standard height exists since each blockchain has varied timestamps, block time, and size. For example, the Bitcoin sequence number is 808808, whereas Ethereum has a height of 18189478. While the former has a significant prevalence in the market, the height of the latter’s block is higher. Hence, Bitcoin takes more time to add transactions in the blocks, and the height also gets influenced. 

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How To Calculate?

A specific procedure is involved if users wish to determine or calculate it. Let us look at these steps:

#1 – Select the appropriate blockchain

The first step for height calculation is to determine the blockchain. Users can choose among the blockchains on decentralized exchanges (DEXs) and visit their whitepaper for more details. For example, to determine Bitcoin sequence number, it is essential to read their whitepaper. It will give instances about the launch date, block time, and timestamp.  

#2 – Determine the block time

The next step is to find the block time and the total time of the blockchain to date. Block time refers to the average time taken by the miners to add blocks to the network. In contrast, the latter is the total time from the launch to the current date. So, if the Bitcoin takes 10 minutes on average to add a block, the total time until now will be around 80,880,800 minutes. However, if the data is available, users can still find the height on the platforms like Blockchair, Blockstream, and others.  

#3 – Apply the formula

The last step is to put the variables in the formula and calculate the height. Following is the equation:

Block Height = Time / Average Block Time 

So, if the total time of the blockchain is 80,880,800 minutes, the current height is 808808. Likewise, to determine the previous block, the formula is the current height less one. So, the previous block will be 808807. 

Examples

Let us look at real-time and hypothetical examples to comprehend the concept.

Example #1

Suppose Kenan is a software developer who works at a technology firm. He developed a blockchain in the past months with his colleague, James. This blockchain is similar to other networks with a 15-second block time. However, it has a stronger focus on privacy. At the initial stage, Kenan created the first block as a base for others. Later, there were several blocks mined by the validators. With the first block (Genesis) created, the height was zero. However, after a few weeks, the number of blocks increased. As a result, the height of blockchain also spiked. 

Since the first block was created on June 1, 2023, the total time was 9,763,800 seconds (or 162,730 mins). Thus, the current height of the chain was 650920 (total time divided by block time). 

Example #2

In April 2023, Bitcoin’s mining difficulty marked a milestone, registering its fourth consecutive increase in the last 41 days, pushing the difficulty level to approximately 47.89 trillion. This surge in difficulty underscores the escalating computational effort miners require to validate transactions and append new blocks to the blockchain. Notably, the highest difficulty recorded recently reached around 57.70 trillion in September, coinciding with the blockchain’s attainment of a block height exceeding 800,000. 

The mining ecosystem, characterized by a robust hash rate of 340.61 exahash per second (EH/s), continues to operate efficiently, keeping block intervals under the ten-minute mark. This data highlights the dynamic nature of Bitcoin’s mining landscape and its ever-evolving relationship with this fundamental metric in the cryptocurrency‘s infrastructure.

Importance

Block heights are an essential part of the blockchain ecosystem. However, they also provide different benefits to the market. Let us look at them:

  • It acts as an indicator to locate a particular block in the network. Users can also extract block data like hash, block reward, nonce, and number of transactions. For example, in the Bitcoin block 808808, there are 3501 transactions with 11 confirmations. And the block reward to the miner was 6.25 BTC. 
  • It helps in estimating the security of the blockchain network. A higher height indicates a secured ecosystem with faster block time. 
  • It also depicts the progress, or the advancement made on the chain. Adding blocks may consume more time if the blockchain operates on an older version. As a result, the number of blocks added to the network will also be low compared to the others with a higher block time. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How to access tokens via block height from transaction ID?

Following are the steps to get tokens:
● Search for Tronscan or Etherscan websites. 
● Copy and paste the Transaction Hash on the Search Bar. 
● Locate the Block Height on the screen and copy it. 
● Once copied, open the Bitbns Wallet page and click on ‘missing Crypto Deposit.’
● Paste the Block Number and Click claim. After claiming height, the tokens will be deposited in the wallet within a few minutes. 

2. What do you mean by block header hash and block height?

A block header hash is a cryptographic identifier unique to each block in a blockchain, ensuring data integrity. Block height represents a block’s numerical position within the blockchain, starting at 0 with the genesis block, facilitating chronological tracking.

3. Is the block height history available on testnet?

Yes, it is visible and available on both mainnet and testnet. However, the height history and transactions may differ on both networks. For example, the testnet of Bitcoin has a height of 2504687. 

This has been a guide to what is Block Height. Here, we explain the concept along with its examples, importance, and how to calculate it. You can learn more about it from the following articles –

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