The EVM equivalence paradigm will open the next phase of Ethereum’s growth .
DeFi Summer 2020 pushes Ethereum to its limits. Since then, the network effects of EVM have split into many different directions. In order to scale, the new L1 and even many L2s deviate from the EVM standard.
But the era of EVM equivalence has come, which will allow Ethereum to pick up where DeFi Summer left off.
A new Cambrian explosion of innovation is coming.
We just need EVM equivalence to unlock it.
Thanks to Ben Jones and David Mihal of the Optimism team for their invaluable help in guiding me through a very challenging subject. Writing this article was challenging, and we did the heavy lifting together, turning a complex topic into an extremely digestible (albeit long, sorry) article with an important insight into how the industry works course.
Contents of this article
- Understanding EVM Equivalence
- There is a difference between scaling on Ethereum and scaling Ethereum itself. EVM is an emerging construct resulting from contributions from thousands of developers.
- Forking the EVM would limit the ability to access these contributions.
If you want to go fast, go alone…but if you want to go far, keep the EVM equivalence.
replication and emergence
- Reproduction and emergence are necessary properties of self-propagating systems that cover the globe
- Application Layer Replication
EVM equivalence allows copy+paste of DeFi code across all EVM equivalence rollups. Anything new of value discovered in one Rollup can be immediately reproduced in all other Rollups.
- Protocol layer replication
EVM equivalence allows a single Rollup to implement EIP upgrades ahead of main Ethereum L1, allowing for a live production testbed for experimental EIPs before they can be safely and securely implemented on the L1 layer.
- Nature hates vacuums. Encryption is like nature; it slowly fills every void it finds.
- The “last mile” problem of encrypted networks, and how we can solve it.
- EIP is the new gene of Ethereum. EVM equivalence enables L2 to merge EIPs asynchronously and independently of other L2 choices. Each L2 will adopt the EIP required by its community.
- Ethereum will adapt to the signals of its L2 users; each L2 represents the user’s preferred data antenna. L2 with common EIP signal for Ethereum:
- This is what the community wants
- Adoption is safe
extended public goods
- Optimism’s Retroactive Public Goods Grant is a novel social incentive designed to inject Silicon Valley-style financial incentives into projects that build public goods for L2.
- The source of funding for L2 public goods is the collection of economic energy from the sale of L2 block space.
- Optimism’s public product R&D can be replicated and propagated across the ecosystem due to EVM equivalence
push the organism forward
- Low fees, EVM equivalence, and traceable public goods funding are the elements needed to drive outward growth at the frontiers of cryptoeconomic networks.
Understanding EVM Equivalence
EVM equivalence: fully compliant with the Ethereum Virtual Machine specification
The EVM equivalent design philosophy is to produce an Optimistic Rollup with “minimal differences” from Ethereum.
EVM equivalence extends the properties of Ethereum to its L2. It blurs the line between when Ethereum L1 stops and when L2 Rollup starts.
This is the difference between scaling Ethereum and scaling Ethereum itself.
Optimistic Rollups, which are perfect clones of Ethereum’s EVM, don’t just share Ethereum’s security; they share every aspect of its network effects.
Other L2 design constructs do not have the same privileges of accessing all of Ethereum’s network effects and are always more specialized than their EVM equivalent counterparts.
EVM compatibility is dead. Either optimize for generality by following the Ethereum standard (so choose the same standard as everyone else), or build something completely different, highly optimized for your use case (see ZK-rollups).
To fully extend the full power of Ethereum to L2, we need more than EVM compatibility.
We need EVM equivalence.
Compatibility and Equivalence
When the Optimism team introduced EVM equivalence last year, they covered the technical differences between equivalence and compatibility.
Rollups has been hailed as our scaling saviour: “Finally, it’s time to run Uniswap on L2!”
The earliest Rollups did this by completely recreating Uniswap, using custom code on top of custom Rollups.
This is not enough.
The network effects of EVM go far beyond Solidity. A plethora of support tools give Ethereum developers superpowers. Since these tools also run on the EVM standard, they cannot be used for custom Rollups. Not to mention the huge amount of effort it takes for the protocol developers to create something Solidity compatible!
With EVM equivalence, the EVM itself is copied and pasted into L2. Everything behind this is the same.
EVM is a city
David Mihal (who helped me understand this) gave me this analogy:
“Open source code is like a city. It was created urgently from the bottom up with the contributions of many developers who found problems and built solutions. Over time, the city became optimized, robust and efficient…support EVM’s blockchain is like the Las Vegas version of Paris; they’re trying to artificially replicate what’s organically produced.”
Open source software is a public product that is maintained and upgraded by various communities.
Developers using open source software encounter all kinds of problems; some trivial, some critical, and everything in between. Some developers spend their time addressing these issues and then lobby the community to accept their input. If the community sees value, contributions are merged. A new standard has been created and the software continues to grow in usability and robustness.
Like a boomtown, builders come to produce what the surrounding community needs and values. Shared resources and utilities are generated, and since it’s code, it never decays. It’s a one-way street of value added; as long as everyone is working on the same foundation.
Each developer builds in their own direction and discovers their specific contributions to add to the collective. Over time, the combined contributions of thousands of developers result in highly robust public goods.
Here’s Geth’s story.
Over the years, the Geth client has slowly absorbed meaningful contributions from Ethereum developers and developed a software that has some of the strongest networks on and off Ethereum.
That’s why Geth has become a reference point for the foundation of a large part of the industry. Chains that have forked Geth and spawned non-Ethereum blockchains are still contributing to the same foundation on which Ethereum rests.
The Geth fork that deviates from the reference version is moving away from the largest network effect in Web3. The more one-off replicas go in different directions, the more labor and resources are required to keep up with the advancement of the core network.
Pelton refers to the main group (in cycling), a group or group of road cyclists. Riders on the team save energy by drafting behind other riders. The reduction in drag is significant; riding in the middle of a highly developed group, drag can be reduced to 5%–10%. The exploitation of this potential energy saving results in very complex cooperative and competitive interactions between drivers and teams in race tactics.
If you want to ride faster, go alone. If you want to ride farther, let’s go together.
The higher the efficiency and speed, the bigger the team. Air resistance is distributed across a wider group; as the group size increases, so does the efficiency of the group. Being in the middle of a large force is basically effortless. The leader of the large force is often cycled, as the leader has to fight headwinds with all his might and must expend extra energy to set the pace of the large force.
But when the leader gets tired and the pace slows, there are plenty of new contributors that have been forming within the peloton to take their place.
Caterpillars in tropical rain forests move faster in groups than they do alone.
Open source communities will always grow faster than centralized teams. The reason this industry is growing so fast is that it is a collaborative flywheel. We build on each other’s success, and when one of us advances to the forefront, they bring us all to them – kind of like these caterpillars.
EVM equivalence is a bottom-up emerging city-like public good. On the other hand, EVM Compatibility is a one-off copy of it.
There are an infinite number of different ways to deviate from the EVM, but there is only one way to stick to it.
Duplicate the application layer
Generating an EVM-equivalent L2 ecosystem is critical to maintaining the network effects of composability and interoperability!
EVM equivalent rollups allow instant copy+paste of codebases across chains. Development and innovation on a single EVM-equivalent aggregate can be seamlessly transferred to any other EVM-equivalent ORU as well as to Ethereum itself. Since everything is developed on the EVM standard, the network effects of L1 extend to L2, and innovation on L2 reverberates throughout the ecosystem.
When deployed on ORU, one line of code means more. If you are an open source developer and want your code to be widely used, you will naturally want to use the EVM-equivalent ORU because your code is immediately compatible with all other EVM-equivalent ORUs.
If you write your code once, but it runs seamlessly on 1,000 compatible chains, the value of the code you just generated is far greater.
EVM equivalence takes EVM network effects to a whole new level.
Non-EVM equivalent ORUs do not benefit from these shared network effects. The lack of a “minimal difference” design philosophy in the non-EVM equivalent ORU breaks the relationship between the Ethereum + EVM equivalent ORU network and the non-EVM equivalent L2.
Every additional EVM-equivalent ORU intensifies a huge wave of Ethereum network effects. If you’re not surfing this wave, you’re going to have to swim hard to catch up.
replication protocol layer
These EVM network effects don’t just apply to Ethereum’s application layer. It also applies to the protocol layer itself; where things really get interesting.
Because EVM-equivalent ORUs have “minimal differences” with Ethereum, they provide Ethereum with a platform to test new EIPs in a live production environment.
Currently, EIPs are tested through the Ethereum testnet. The EIP was tested multiple times on the testnet to ensure that there would be no issues when it finally integrated into Ethereum L1.
Doing so is always risky, as testnets are not “trivial” to Ethereum. Implementing an EIP in Goerli or Koven is not the same as implementing an EIP in Ethereum L1; the difference is the scale, importance, and nature of economic activity on top of Ethereum that testnets cannot emulate. There will always be some “unknowns” when implementing EIPs in Ethereum.
EVM equivalence provides a solution.
When an EIP is successfully implemented on an EVM-equivalent ORU, it provides a strong guarantee for the underlying chain that the same EIP can be successfully integrated into L1 without errors. The EVM-equivalent ORU provides a live production environment with real economic activity and real capital for testing EIPs. EIP can be tested at the ORU layer without the risk of breaking and affecting the rest of the overall system.
When L2 generally adopts the same EIP, it signals to Ethereum L1 that it is needed by the community and can be safely integrated into L1.
The EVM-equivalent ORU enables Ethereum to sense the wishes of participants on its L2s, making each L2 an antenna that is attuned to the wishes and aspirations of its users. The command and control governance of TradFi and Web2 is translated into the perception and response paradigm of Web3.
Because each ORU is its own sovereign economy, it implements various EIPs independently and asynchronously based on user needs, independent of the rest of the ecosystem.
Over time, the best EIPs will dominate the L2 ORU space, as more and more independent ORUs see value in the same EIPs. When EIP dominates the entire ORU space, it will signal to Ethereum L1 that it is a good EIP and that it is secure to implement at the L1 protocol layer.
There will be many forks of Optimism on Ethereum! Since they both accept the same EIPs, it will signal to the main L1 that these EIPs are desirable and safe.
The meaning of EVM equivalence: Ethereum is free from the constraints of L1. “Ethereum” can extend out into L2. The line between Ethereum L1 and EVM equivalent L2 has become very blurred. Where Ethereum L1 stops is where the EVM equivalent L2 begins.
All this Ethereum.
“Nature hates the vacuum” – Aristotle
Nature is really good at filling in the blanks. The more evolutionarily fit an organism is, the more space it occupies. Animals consume food and reproduce to the maximum extent allowed by the environment. All plants are expressions of fractals because fractals are algorithms that maximize surface area. The increased surface area of the plant increases its ability to capture sunlight on the leaves and nutrients from the roots.
One of the most biodiverse regions in the world is the Amazon rainforest, where less than 2 percent of light reaches the ground because trees are so efficient at capturing sunlight.
last mile problem
The last mile refers to the last leg of a journey and includes the movement of people and goods from a transportation hub to their final destination. The “last mile” describes the most difficult final part of moving people and packages from the hub to the final destination. Some of the challenges of last-mile delivery include minimizing costs, ensuring transparency, increasing efficiency and improving infrastructure.
Nature is really good at solving last mile problems. It’s a natural consequence of “survival of the fittest”; the organism that can best replicate and reproduce to fill the void in which it lives.
Even within a single organism, fractals are fundamental patterns for increasing the size and efficiency of an organism. The lungs are responsible for capturing oxygen and distributing it into the blood; the circulatory system is responsible for distributing oxygen and other nutrients to the furthest reaches of the organism.
Fractals are structures in which each substructure has the same properties as the overall structure. Fractals can be thought of as never-ending patterns, and reproducibility and reproducibility are fundamental to fractals.
Only replicable and reproducible structures can effectively fill the gaps found in nature. Encryption is a huge void; there is still a lot to do. But in order to fill all these empty spaces with new structures, we need systems that can be replicated and reproduced.
EVM equivalence produces the basis needed to produce these properties.
With an EVM-equivalent Rollup ecosystem, Ethereum can replicate and reproduce at breakneck speed, focusing on user needs and updating its code to reflect those needs.
Each L2 can go in its own unique direction, focusing on whatever it wants to specialize in. A successful L2 has many users and a lot of value, which will signal to other L2s that it has found something valuable. We all know that the crypto industry is very good, and once it proves useful, something will be copied.
2013-15 PoW fair launch, yield farming activities in DeFi summer 2020 were massively replicated, L1 Geth fork in 2021. Read: “On Coordination and Betrayal.” )
Once L2 finds a new source of value, that source of value can be replicated and shared across the ecosystem and eventually brought back to the center of the ecosystem.
David Attenborough’s take: The app developer found some food! See, EVM equivalence brings it to L1 for sharing. This young developer is sure to get unlimited funding and a bunch of Twitter followers.
EIP is a new gene
Richard Dawkins’ book “The Selfish Gene” discusses how each gene of an organism becomes the smallest unit of life, and its intrinsic self-interest for self-sustainment and replication provides the basis for all life to survive basic mode.
Good genes will survive. Bad genes die.
As an organism evolves and adapts, the genes that make an organism healthy are spread throughout a species through replication and reproduction over time. Beneficial random mutations in an individual organism help it survive and thrive better than others, so the gene goes from being present in just one instance to being present in all possible instances because it’s a good Gene.
In the world of modular Ethereum, EIP is the new gene.
A good EIP spreads. Bad EIPs will die.
Ethereum is a responsive adaptive system, and the ORU equivalent to the EVM allows new genes to be implemented into the organism first at the edge, and then after this new EIP proves its viability, the EIP propagates out to the rest of the ORU. If the EIP is good enough, it will go all the way back to the beating heart of Ethereum: L1.
Ethereum becomes an organism capable of responding and adapting to its environment, even as its environment changes over time. With the genomes of biological organisms fixed from their origins, Ethereum has the ability to invent and integrate new genes as needed to keep up with the changing needs of the world.
Discovering value in the EVM equivalent paradigm translates that value into a public good that can be shared across the entire Ethereum ecosystem, not just one specific L2.
Tracing Public Goods: Building Infrastructure for the Entire Ecosystem
Retroactive Public Goods Funding (RPGF) will transform Ethereum from a system that responds to users to one that can act proactively.
Optimism is pioneering a new model for funding public goods, injecting Silicon Valley-style financial incentives into public goods construction projects.
The upside potential of tech startups as a product and public goods as a product.
The revenue generated from L2 block space fees goes directly to the innovators and founders who build useful things for Optimism L2. RPGF invests money into the future, enabling public goods builders to build, and guaranteeing that if they build useful public goods, there will be money waiting for them.
The purpose of the Optimism Collective:
to produce a strong public goods infrastructure for the OP, increase the utility of L2, and create a useful economic base.
OP Block Space Needs
Public Goods Funded
Invest in More Public Goods
Public Goods Very Good
Web2 Incentives, Web2 Produces Value, where Impact = Profit.
The combination of RPGF and EVM equivalence means that when Optimism L2 builds something useful, it is immediately available to the rest of the entire EVM equivalence ecosystem.
Block space sales on Optimism become infrastructure, not only for Optimism L2, but for all L2s, and ultimately for Ethereum itself. The blockchain ecosystem has historically underinvested in infrastructure and public goods.
The RPGF and EVM equivalence set provides us with the first promising way to solve the tragedy of the commons, not just for Optimism, not just for L2, not just for Ethereum, but for the whole world.
Step 1: Fund Optimism’s Public Goods
Step 2: Extend these public goods (for free!) to all other L2s.
Step 3: Integrate these public goods into Ethereum
Step 4: Extend the scope of public goods to the world beyond Ethereum.
Step 5: Addressing Global Coordination Failures and Unlocking the Future of Star Trek
Posted by:CoinYuppie，Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/the-evm-equivalence-paradigm-will-open-the-next-phase-of-ethereums-growth-a-new-cambrian-explosion-of-innovation-is-coming/
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