Interviewee: Vitalik Buterin, Founder of Ether
Interview: Pan Zhixiong
Ether scaling is in full swing in the community, and several solutions are being ramped up and are expected to go live on the mainnet this year. On the eve of the explosion of the whole Ethernet Layer2 solution, imToken joined hands with many outstanding Ethernet ecological communities and companies, such as ETHPlanet, EthFans, ECN, Shanghai Frontier Technology Seminar and HiBlock, to plan a series of events on the theme of Ethernet scaling.
The first event was held on April 23: Rollup – New Paradigm of Ether L2 Scaling Hangzhou offline Meetup, below is the text version of the AMA of this Meetup with Vitalik, the founder of Ether.
Pan Zhixiong: Now the compatibility of EVM may become a very important competitiveness of public chains or Layer2. Many exchange public chains, such as BSC and HECO, can provide a less decentralized public chain compared to Ether, but with lower performance, TPS and user access cost by using their own users or overall resources. In fact, in the long run, whether xDai or BSC or HECO are side chains or public chains, is it possible for them to become a form of public chain ecology in the future by generating this kind of EVM-based compatibility strategy ecology? And BSC or xDai, is it possible that they will feed into this ethereum ecosystem in the future, which will eventually benefit the entire ethereum ecosystem?
Vitalik: Okay, got it. The problem now is that the kind of blockchain that is scalable, that has a particularly high level of decentralization, that is EVM compatible is not available. Now there’s the power of Ether, and then there’s Matic and xDai, other sidechain projects. There are also projects that have nothing at all to do with Ether, such as BSC, and there are many of these. Now the transaction fee of Ether is still very high. There are some applications that have nothing to do with the transaction fee of Ether. But there are a lot of applications that do need lower transaction fees. There’s no particularly good way to decentralize right now. So now a lot of people are starting to look at sidechains and other chain projects.
But that’s just the case right now. Next year and the year after, Rollup’s projects will probably all come online. Also, we’ll have Ether fractions, so next year we’ll have some chains that support EVM, but we also have a second layer of chains based on Ether. The second layer of the chain based on Ether has two biggest advantages, the first one is security. If you are making your own chain, you may have 20 or 100 nodes, but it is difficult to have 5000 or 10,000 nodes. If you make a Rollup, or a platform with direct connection to Ether, you can get the security standard of the Ether network. The second advantage is that if you have a close connection with the Ethernet ecology, you can get some benefits of the Ethernet network effect. However. You make an application on these chains, you will have your own ecology. The connection between these ecologies and the ethereum ecology will have problems.
Pan Zhixiong: The second question is related to developers, because we see more and more Layer2 projects may go live in the next few months. But in fact, when we talk to many developers, including domestic developers, about DeFi projects, we still wonder which Layer2 to choose, or there are so many choices, including State Channel, Plasma, Rollup, and sidechains. For DeFi developers, or general developers who want to enter the Ethernet ecosystem. In such a multi-Rollup, multi-Layer2 scenario, do you have any suggestions for them, and from what perspective can they consider which ones to choose as their new direction?
Vitalik: The first question is whether you choose projects that support EVM or projects that don’t support EVM. If you’re doing a very simple application, including a token-related or NFT-related kind of thing, you don’t really need to support EVM. You can choose a Layer2 that doesn’t support EVM but is connected to the main network.
But if you’re doing something more complex, or if you already have an ethereum-based application, you’ll probably need a Rollup with EVM support, and you can choose another application or environment, but right now there’s a big ecosystem of contracts and code for EVM, so with a Rollup with EVM support, your job will be easier. It’s easier. If you choose a Rollup that supports EVM, you have a lot of options, you have Optimism, Arbitrum, zkSync, which support EVM, and a few other programs.
I think an Optimistic Rollup would be safer, because zero-knowledge proofs are still relatively new technology. It’s complex, and not a lot of people particularly know how to look at the code of the zkSNARK circuit. But if you’re looking at the code for Optimism and Arbitrum, both are relatively simple. So, I think it’s less likely that the short-term Optimistic Rollup will have problems, but the long-term ZK EVM Rollup is better. Now if you want to use a Rollup with EVM support, I think Optimistic Rollup is safer, and I think it’s more likely that they will actually come online. I also think it’s more likely that they will actually come online and not have the kind of problems that will delay it until next year or more.
Between Optimism and Arbitrum, I personally respect both teams, and I know there are more Optimistic Rollup teams out there, and I think we need to continue to see how they progress, how these projects, their communities, and how they evolve.
Pan Zhixiong: Okay, thanks. So the next one is actually about zkPorter, which we talked about earlier. Because they’re going to be released on the main site in two or three months at the earliest. The zkPorter solution is actually equivalent to putting the data availability under the chain. This piece is actually a bit like the Ether 2.0 sharding, which also puts data availability under the chain. Is there any comparison between the two, and how does it compare with the Ether 2.0 sharding solution? What are the points of comparison?
The second question is if zkSync will be delivered and live on time in August, is there any other advantage for developers to choose Optimism. Because definitely zkSync will be more secure in the long run?
Vitalik: I’m actually a little bit concerned about zkPorter’s approach to data availability, because whether it’s a slice of Ether or a slice of data availability backed by the entire network, if you can’t successfully attack the Ether chain, you can’t attack a slice of data. But zkPorter’s approach to data availability is not supported by the Ethernet chain, but by some of their nodes, so it’s much easier to attack their data availability. Actually I think when you compare their zkRollup and their zkPorter, their zkPorter may be cheaper, but actually it’s already cheap to trade on a Rollup. Because right now it’s about 20 RMB to send a transaction on the mainnet, and sending a transaction on Rollup will be 0.2 this year, and 0.002 or 0.0002 next year or when 2.0 is split, so the transaction fee on Rollup will be very low. So an off-chain, their own data availability platform is actually not necessary I think.
Second, if they succeed in going live in August, what will be their advantages and disadvantages. zkRollup has a big advantage in that you don’t have the waiting period of Optimistic Rollup when you withdraw money. In Optimistic Rollup, if you withdraw now, you have to wait 7 days. In fact, Optimism and some other teams like Arbitrum, they are using a second layer to solve this problem, that is, if you withdraw now, there will be a Liquidity Provider (liquidity provider), who will provide you with coins when you withdraw, and then this Liquidity Provider will wait for 7 days.
But zkRollup doesn’t need to worry about these problems, and the user experience may be better. But if teams like Optimism and Arbitrum succeed in making a Liquidity Provider mechanism, Optimistic Rollup can avoid the waiting period problem. They went live in August, and I think their biggest drawback is that the risk of security vulnerabilities will be higher. This problem is not their team’s problem, but the technology of zkSNARK is very new and more complex, and there are fewer developers who know zkSNARK code, so it is more likely that there are problems that they did not find. But this is the drawback now, after 3 years or 5 years, they have more time to confirm that their zkSNARK EVM is problem-free and the ecology will be more mature. So that’s the short term disadvantage, and the long term advantage of zkSNARK is great.
Pan Zhixiong: Thank you Vitalik, so the last question: ask about some of the broader uses of Layer2. Because we see that Ether is now more in NFT, DeFi or payment-related application scenarios. But the original intention of Ether is not just to do some pure finance-related business. But in fact, it has now become a kind of financial settlement layer, right? Recently, we saw that the data has surpassed PayPal, in terms of the amount of settlement data. So is there any possibility that we could see some more general application scenarios that are not DeFi-related arise or explode on Layer2? And have you seen any interesting projects of this kind on your side? That could be useful in a low-cost and high- TPS scenario like Layer2?
Vitalik: Yeah, I see. I don’t see a big challenge with Rollup right now. The reason that Ether is becoming a financial-based project is that the transaction fees are very high right now. A financial project is able to afford those fees. But if you’re doing a non-financial project, you can’t afford to pay such transaction fees now. Rollup’s transaction fees are much lower, so I think there’s a good chance that we’ll see these applications in Rollup. Then actually we can see these situations now, if you go to some of the more successful non-financial projects in the ethereum ecosystem, like Dark Forest, some of them are still on the main ethereum network, some of them moved to our test network (Rinkeby, Ropsten, etc.), and some of them moved to the sidechain (xDai or Polygon). So when we have Rollup, there will be more of these non-financial applications, which will move to Rollup.
One of the more important examples is ENS, which I think is the most successful non-financial application in the ethereum ecosystem right now. There are a lot of people who have ENS domains now, but it’s getting very expensive to make an ENS domain or to renew an ENS domain, so applicability is becoming difficult. But if ENS or a part of ENS can be moved to Rollup, it will solve this problem.
Audience Question 1: Now we see so many Rollup, so in Layer2 of this technology inside the program, the most critical, the most need to solve the problem is what, that is, they now have not encountered any relatively large problems, which challenges?
Vitalik: Yeah, I see. I don’t think there are any big challenges with these Rollups right now, but there are quite a few smaller challenges. There’s probably 100 little problems, and if they can’t solve those 100 little problems, then the performance and the user experience of the Rollups will be particularly bad. But if they can solve, say, 50 or 80 of the 100 problems, then the user experience will be very good. For example, there is a problem that I mentioned before, the withdrawal problem of Optimistic Rollup. It takes a week to withdraw from Optimistic Rollup. So they want to make a Liquidity Provider (Liquidity Provider) mechanism to help users withdraw faster.
The second example is that if these Rollups are particularly successful at the beginning, the TPS in them may be very high, for example, a Rolllup may have 100 TPS or 300 TPS inside, then the nodes inside these Rollups will have synchronization problems. Because there are still gas nodes that need to process the transactions in these Rollups. So now people are not particularly concerned about this problem, because in a Rollup there are 100 TPS, that is, if they have this problem, it means that their Rollup is already very successful. But when they are so successful, then their nodes need to be more efficient. That’s the second problem.
The third issue is that if we have a scalable future with not just one Rollup, but multiple Rollups, with Optimism, Arbitrum, Loopring, etc., then the issue of cross-rollup transactions becomes particularly important. For example, if I have some assets in one Rollup, how can I move my assets to another Rollup, I’ve thought about it. I also have a Loopring account, but not enough for 0.03, and my zkSync account has 0.1. but at this time I have no way to move my 0.1 from zkSync to Loopring. of course, I can withdraw from zkSync and make a deposit on Loopring. . But that would take longer and cost more in gas. But if we had a cross-rollup exchange, we could solve this problem. So I think we have a lot of these small problems right now, and if we can solve most of these small problems, I think the Rollup ecosystem will be very good. Some of these small problems are not research problems, we know what we need to do, but we need developers to write the code and do the testing.
Audience Question 2: And then the next question is about the technical side, is there any plan to support more zero-knowledge proof algorithm pre-compilation in Ether? For example, recursive zero-knowledge proof algorithms like Pickles?
Vitalik: Are you talking about whether there are plans to add more pre-compiles to the Ether chain to help developers and researchers do zero-knowledge proofs? Or is it a compiler for zero-knowledge proofs? Because there are some zero-knowledge proof systems, if you write this algorithm, it is already possible to study it on the current Ethernet chain. If it is an algorithm based on elliptic curves pairing, it is possible to do it on Ether.
Audience Question 3: The next question is about the technical side. What do you think about Polynomial Commitment in Rollup? Can we use polynomial commitment instead of Merkle trees?
Vitalik: This question is a little bit complicated because we also cared about this when considering our stateless clients and state expiry, and we found that there is a bigger problem with Polynomial Commitment, which is If a particularly large state, that is, a state with many accounts, for example, 5000 accounts in a block, if the balance (balance) or storage (storage) of some accounts has changed, we have to calculate the witness (witness) of all accounts. We found this problem particularly difficult to solve, so in the Ethernet roadmap, we did not choose to move to Polynomial Commitment. Verkle Tree is a method between Merkle Tree and Polynomial Commitment. It has some of the features of Polynomial Tree, but with its drawbacks removed.
Pan Zhixiong: Okay, thank you. That’s all for this session, thanks Vitalik.
Vitalik: Thank you all, bye.
Posted by:CoinYuppie，Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/ama-conversation-with-vitalik-founder-of-ether/
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