Ethereum 2.0: The insoluble problem of decentralization?

A fearful centralization – Everyone has been aware of the significant congestion problems of Ethereum (ETH) for many months. Faced with these, second-layer solutions have regularly been put forward as embodying the absolute solution. Problem: these would in fact have no impact on the tendency towards centralization experienced by the block production process.

Vitalik Buterin discusses the centralization of block production

On Monday, December 6, Ethereum co-founder, Vitalik Buterin published a article in which he returns to the problem of centralization encountered by many blockchains.

First of all, Buterin starts from an observation: the blockchains said to “big blocks” they have a growing trend to centralization. Thus, the increase in block size, and in the number of transactions per second, leads to a centralization of the block verification process.

Indeed, the larger the blocks, the more resources the verification of these blocks requires. Therefore, the nodes must be hosted on machinery more and more powerfuldrastically reducing their accessibility.

“As the blocks are very big, only a few tens or hundreds of nodes can afford to operate a node that can create blocks or verify the existing chain. »

Vitalik Butrin

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What are the solutions in the face of this centralization on the L2s?

Faced with this problem, Vitalik Buterin sketched several drafts of viable solutions.

To begin with, Buterin proposes adding a second level of staking. In this case, the transactions in a block would be divided into 100 bundles, and each second tier staker would be randomly assigned one of these prizes. Subsequently, the block is only accepted if 2/3 of the validators sign the batches.

Graphic representation of this second level of validation – Source: Vitalik Buterin

Then, the co-founder proposes to introduce evidence of fraud (ZK-SNARKs) to allow users to directly validate blocks. Indeed, this type of proof makes it possible to verify lower cost the validity of a block. If any of the proofs were found to be invalid, the user could submit the proof to the network and the block would not be approved.

Then, Buterin imagines the creation of a “data availability sampling” which would allow users, in particular through the use of thin clients, to check the availability of blocks.

Finally, Butein proposes the implementation of secondary transaction channels to avoid censorship. This would allow secondary stakers to submit transaction listings to be included in the next block.

“What do we get when all of this is done? We get a chain where block production is still centralized, but block validation is reliable and highly decentralized, and where specialized anti-censorship magic prevents block producers from censoring transactions. »

Vitalik Buterin

And the sacrosancts rollups then ?

Subsequently, Vitalik Buterin imagines the future of Rollups through the prism of the centralization of block production. According to him this, future could have 2 faces. First, Vitalik imagines a world where all Ethereum activity would be deported to one and the same rollupbe it Arbitrum, Optimism or otherwise.

“Once again, we get a world where block production is centralized, block validation is trustless and highly decentralized, and censorship is still prevented. »

Vitalik Buterin

Indeed, because of their design, the rollups do not have not the possibility of publishing invalid blocks on the Ethereum blockchain.

“Rollups have no way of passing invalid blocks. (…) The availability of the blocks is ensured by the underlying chain, and the validity of the blocks is guaranteed by the logic of the rollup. If it’s a ZK-Rollup, it’s insured by SNARKs, and an optimistic Rrllup is safe as long as there’s an honest player somewhere running a scammer node. »

Vitalik Buterin

At the same time, Vitalik imagines another future where no rollup fails to hold the majority of Ethereum activity.

“It looks like we could have it all: decentralized validation, robust censorship resistance, and even distributed block production, because the rollups are all individually small and it’s easy to start producing blocks there. »

Vitalik Buterin

For their part, second layer solutions are on the rise. Indeed, these saw their TVL beat a new record, with more than 6 billion dollars deposited through these various networks.

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Ethereum 2.0: The insoluble problem of decentralization?

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