What is an Epoch on Cardano?


Upstream Nov 01, 2022 Definitions

What is an Epoch on Cardano?

Fun fact, did you know you can pronounce it as “epic”, “ee-poch” or “eepoush”?  Okay maybe that last one isn’t true.  We prefer “ee-pock” as it sounds more mysterious but let’s stick with the correct spelling for this article which is epoch.

According to the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, an epoch is “an event or a time marked by an event that begins a new period or development”.

Simply put, an epoch on the Cardano blockchain is a period of roughly 5 days and, as I write this article, we are in Epoch 369.

Enough reading for today? Watch the video version instead????

Why have Epochs?

ADA staking works by selecting a trusted staking pool to verify and publish transactions on the network every 20 seconds. The group of transactions the pool processes in that time is known as a block. You may have heard the term “producing a block” and this is what it refers to.

So how is it decided which pools get to produce a block? You can think of each ADA token in a staking pool as a raffle ticket, this raffle ticket gives you a chance to win the right to produce a block. The more ADA there is in a staking pool, the more raffle tickets the staking pool has. Simply put, the more ADA in a pool, the more chance the pool has of producing a block.

Whoa Whoa Whoa… How does all this relate to an Epoch? Well, to organise who wins the raffle to produce a block a snapshot (basically a digital picture of the network) is taken just before the end of an epoch. This captures all of the information and serves as a record of how much ADA is in each pool. Then, a clever algorithm decides which pool is going to produce the blocks for the next Epoch and when those blocks are scheduled for.  As there are currently 432,000 blocks produced in every Epoch there is plenty to go around.

Key takeaways

So what should you take away from this video? Basically, an Epoch is a 5 day period and you’ll start receiving your staking rewards 2 epochs (roughly 10 days) after you stake your ADA.

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