Ethereum
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What to Expect When Ethereum's Constantinople Hard Fork Happens - CoinDesk

“Cautious optimism.”

That’s how Hudson Jameson, developer relations for the Ethereum Foundation, described the mood in the run-up to ethereum’s fifth planned system-wide upgrade, Constantinople.

Expected to activate next Wednesday, Jan. 16, Constantinople is a type of upgrade known as a hard fork – which means it needs to be unilaterally installed across all nodes in the network to function as intended.

This approach is a process that comes with inherent risks. For example, if a sufficient number of users don’t agree with an upgrade, it could cause the network to split. Such an event took place in 2016 when a controversial hard fork following the collapse of the DAO led to the emergence of two distinct blockchains, ethereum and ethereum classic.

Still, Afri Schoedon, release manager for the Parity ethereum client, said that risk of a chain split is low because adoption of the upgrade by ethereum’s top mining pools – the parties most critical in avoiding a chain split – has been strong.

“Miners are prepared,” Schoedon said. “Only miners can split the chain.”

Currently, a tracking website ran by Peter Pratscher, the CEO of top ether mining pool Ethermine, tracks Constantinople adoption to be a mere 15.6 percent. Speaking to CoinDesk, Pratscher said that the statistics are flawed, and claimed the adoption to be closer to a majority.

“We expect most of the not-updated nodes to be updated by the time the fork block arrives,” Pratscher said.

Named after the capital of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople forms part of a three-part upgrade called Metropolis. It combines a total of five ethereum improvement proposals (EIPs). And while the majority are non-controversial tweaks, one aspect of the upgrade has been the cause of some controversy.

In particular, Constantinople delays the “difficulty-bomb,” an algorithm in ethereum’s that increases mining difficulty over time. Because the upgrade will d...

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