On July 24, the 2021 World Blockchain Conference Hangzhou officially opened. With the theme of “Infinite Future”, this conference brings together 100+ blockchain and cryptocurrency industry leading entrepreneurs and researchers from all over the world. With a world in mind, they will jointly look at the industry imagination of the infinite future.
Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin published a titled “What will be released after Ethereum enters 2.0?” “Speech. Vitalik said that in the early stage of the merger of ETH1 and ETH2, some minor upgrades will be implemented, sharding will be introduced, and with Rollup, 100,000 transactions per second can be achieved under ideal conditions; and in the middle and late stages of the merger, Ethereum will tend to Make improvements at the consensus algorithm level to make the protocol simpler, while deploying cryptographic technologies such as zero-knowledge proofs and anti-quantum computing.
Vitalik also mentioned that the basic technical vision of Ethereum is to try to improve quickly in the short term and stabilize in the long term. In the future, the Ethereum will be decentralized by layer 1, and layer 2 will carry out a lot of innovations to make the Ethereum protocol simpler and more convenient to use.
The following is the full text of the speech:
Hello, friends at the scene, I am very happy to be invited by Babbitt to participate in the World Blockchain Conference held in Hangzhou Yuhang Future Science and Technology City. Unfortunately, due to the epidemic, I have no way to go to the scene. But I hope I can share with you some recent research and technological developments of Ethereum.
Today I am going to talk about what will happen after the merger.
We have discussed a lot of things that will happen in the next six months or so. The Berlin hard fork has been completed, which was completed in April. Soon after, we performed an Altair upgrade on the PoS chain. Next is the London fork on the existing PoW chain.
At some point, maybe half a year later, maybe even longer, we will be able to witness the merger of the two chains. That is, the PoW chain has completed its mission, and everything on the PoW chain is transferred to the PoS chain.
But what we are discussing today is what happened later. So what will happen after the merger is complete? After that, what upgrades will the Ethereum protocol have?
Early stage of the merger: clean up forks
The first thing after the merger will be-I call it a clean-up fork after the merger. In simple terms, the merge is done as quickly as possible, so the merge is quite simple. There are many things that a hard fork to achieve a merger cannot do. For example, it does not support withdrawals, which is a good example. At this stage, if you deposit funds in the PoS system, you have no way to withdraw it. After the merger, you still have no way to take it out. Withdraw your deposits and your rewards, which will only be realized after the first hard fork after the merger.
In addition, a number of different technological improvements are removing a mechanism called ETH1 data voting. This is the mechanism that PoS is using to interact with the PoS chain, change the execution layer of serialization, remove the RLP transaction format and add the SSZ transaction format, and agree that the client should stop trying to download the PoW chain before the merger. In other words, simplify the client, delete a lot of codes that are no longer needed, and add some opcodes to get more information about PoS improvements.
While merging, there are many small improvements. But in order to ensure that the merger is completed faster, we have to postpone it until after the merger is completed.
After this, sharding is the next major improvement. This is a data slice (Figure 1). There are 64 shards we added, and each shard will have 512KB blocks, and each shard will generate a block every 12 seconds. These blocks only contain data, and no transactions are executed inside the shards. The purpose of these shards is to provide more data space to allow Rollup to use this space, thus having higher scalability.
(Figure 1: Data fragmentation diagram)
At this stage, Rollup can scale to about 4000 to 5000 transactions per second. Assuming that the entire Ethereum ecosystem can use Rollup, but with data sharding, we may have 20 to 50 times more space. Rollup may reach 100,000 transactions per second, and even more in the future. Sharding will first add some basic security, and then add more security, and then sharding will usher in more and more improvements.
Regarding the verification of data availability, we propose and develop this technology to improve the security of shards. The main purpose is to let the nodes verify that the data in the shards has actually been released without the node downloading all the data. If you search for the word verification of data availability, you can find a lot of information about this on the Internet. In my opinion, this is a very fascinating technology. It is very important to improve the security of sharding and to ensure that the increased scalability and increased data volume as the past rules on the sharding network will not lead to the risk of block acceptance. No one can access the data, because it will destroy the relevance and it will also destroy the application. So this generally strengthens the security of sharding and other security improvements.
These are just a few different cryptographic techniques (Figure 2), and they have some exquisite names. Such as single secret leader election, verifiable delay function, and proof of escrow. I don’t have time to explain these concepts in detail, so I will explain them briefly.
(Figure 2: More security upgrades)
The single secret leader election makes it difficult to know who the committer of the future block will be. This makes it more difficult to attack the network. Because if you want to prevent certain blocks from being released, you cannot know which nodes you are going to attack.
The verifiable delay function creates randomness in Ethereum.
More secure escrow proofs force nodes to actually save and verify block data, so escrow proofs can improve decentralization. It reduces the risk of users who use centralized services to run nodes, so it is also very important.
Regarding some improvements to the execution layer, the execution layer is the part of the system that processes transactions, the Ethereum virtual machine, smart contracts, and accounts.
We increase the address length from 20 bytes to 32 bytes by extending the address. Verkle trees are designed to mix stateless clients as much as possible. A stateless client refers to a client that can verify the chain without storing the state of the blockchain locally, so there is no need to store all accounts and contracts locally. Conversely, stateless clients can receive and verify blocks containing partial state information. Therefore, there are only accounts and contracts accessed in a specific block and a proof that the accounts included in this block are actually valid and they are in the correct state at a specific time. This is also a very fascinating technology that can complete block verification without requiring nodes to occupy any hard drive space.
State invalidation is another solution to Ethereum’s increasingly serious state problem. This means that the client no longer needs to store accounts, storage space, and other objects that have not been accessed recently. Conversely, those trying to obtain these objects only need witnesses, so they need to provide evidence to recover the data.
Account abstraction is a technology that improves the usability of smart contract wallets and other applications. It can make the use of smart contract wallets as simple as using existing ordinary accounts. Specific use cases include multi-signature wallets, social recovery wallets, and many other use cases.
There are different ways to do this, and we are exploring all possible ways, trying to really accomplish this, including completing the Ethereum virtual machine in a specific form. Improvement refers to improving the Ethereum virtual machine so that it can be added or implemented. A more advanced form of cryptography. Thereby eliminating the need for pre-compilation more effectively, and ultimately achieving the purpose of simplifying the protocol.
A lot…In fact, there are not so many improvements, but some improvements to the Ethereum virtual machine are very important, and this is what will be realized in the near future.
Mid-to-late merger: algorithm update + anti-quantum computing
We can also discuss what will happen in the long run. It may be 2 to 5 years from now, or maybe more years later, there are a few points that need to be mentioned.
One is to continue to improve the consensus algorithm of Ethereum, we need CBC Casper. We are also considering other things, but basically just continue to improve the simplicity, efficiency and security of the Ethereum consensus protocol.
ZK-Snarks or zero-knowledge proof is a very important and very powerful technology. The principle of ZK-Snarks is that they are paragraphs of proofs that can prove that all the content in a block has been correctly calculated. All transactions are valid, the entire block is valid, and this proof can be quickly verified. Even if a block is very large and complex, it takes a lot of calculations to prove that the block is correct, and it takes a long time to generate this proof, but once the proof is generated, this proof can be verified quickly.
Snarks has many use cases. We can Snark beacon chain and Snark PoS chain to make it easier to verify and participate; we can Snark Ethereum virtual machine or other virtual machines that extend the Ethereum virtual machine to more easily add a complete smart contract function to sharding. If we want to do this, we can add zero-knowledge proofs to many things. If we add zero-knowledge proofs, it will make it easier to run Ethereum nodes. Anyone can verify that the Ethereum block is correct, and it will make it more difficult to attack the network.
As for anti-quantum security, this is also a very important thing. Quantum computers are coming. They will appear at some point, not very soon, but they will definitely be at some point in the future. It is undoubtedly very important to ensure security in front of quantum computers. For quantum security, the good news is that solutions exist, and some changes can be made to the protocol to make the protocol more secure in front of quantum computers.
We can use some quantum-resistant cryptography. The best anti-quantum cryptography is actually hashing. Even today, hash functions such as SHA 256 and SHA 3 are already anti-quantum computing. What we can do is to replace the existing encryption technology with hash-based encryption technology, and use Starks to replace Snarks; we can use aggregate signatures to replace BLS signatures, which use Starks similar technology; we can use Starks technology The Merkel tree replaces the verkle tree discussed earlier, making the stateless client’s proof smaller. We can basically replace everything with Starks, and maybe we can replace some things with grid codes. The Ethereum Foundation has a cryptography team, and they are paying more and more attention to the technology based on lattice cryptography.
But these things can only happen in the next 5 to 15 years, so there is no need to worry in the short term. But when this becomes a problem, we already know what changes need to be made. The above are some long-term improvements. By that time, these improvements have been basically completed.
The future of Ethereum: layer 1 stability + layer 2 innovation
I think the basic technical vision of Ethereum is to try to improve quickly in the short term and stabilize in the long term. Because in the long run, I think the blockchain does need to settle down and become more stable, and it does need to make more guarantees to users to ensure that things will not change, so that users can feel safe and act on this basis. Out of development. But in the short term, these technologies have been developed.
After the advent of Bitcoin, and even after the initial version of Ethereum, this technology was very powerful. It can really improve the security of Ethereum, and improve the scalability and privacy of Ethereum. It is really important to be able to add these attributes. Only in this way can the blockchain be more secure, and we will not have very high transaction fees; only in this way, the blockchain can be easier to use.
As time goes by, people’s expectation is that once the blockchain itself has sufficient functions, everything can be done in layer 2. There is room for improvement in layer 1, but more things can be done in layer 2. Layer 1 can focus on decentralization, and eventually layer 2 will be the place where the most innovation occurs, but we are not there yet. I think in two years, we will be closer to this goal.
But now, after the merger, all the improvements are to improve the scalability of the Ethereum protocol and make the Ethereum protocol easier to use and more secure.
These are very important, but they are all done at the same time. Some teams are doing PoS, some are in charge of mergers, some are doing sharding, some are doing account abstraction, and some are doing verkle trees, and many projects are doing layer 2 expansion, and continue to improve Ethereum’s Scalability. Optimism is one of them, and recently launched support for Uniswap. The expansion is in progress, and it is advancing faster and faster.
I think in the next 2 to 3 years, we will see that using Ethereum will become cheaper, we will see more different kinds of applications using Ethereum, and the Ethereum ecosystem will become more interesting. thank you all!