Vitalik’s analysis and ecosystem replace

Over the last five days, I, our Executive Director Ming Chan and several others from the Ethereum team and Ethereum based projects and companies including Maker, String/Dfinity and Consensys have visited China and Hong Kong where there have been a number of events of consecutive conferences and events, notably the Blockchain Workshop in Hong Kong on October 11-13 and the “First Global Blockchain Summit” in Shanghai, organized by our friends in Wanxiang on October 15-16, simultaneously continue to our usual tasks of research, development, planning DEVcon ​​​​and administrative matters.

Both conferences turned out to be extremely positive signs for the growth of the Ethereum ecosystem, at least in my own admittedly optimistic assessment. At the Hong Kong event, we participated in semi-closed sessions on day one on topics such as decentralized governance, identity and reputation, and regulatory compliance. Robin Hanson addressed the issue of prediction markets as a form of “low-cost micro-governance”: If there are situations where litigation or arbitration is required to finally resolve a dispute, use a prediction market instead to resolve that Provide outcome that only occasionally escalates to the underlying arbitration mechanism. Anyone with private information has an incentive to participate in the prediction market: the parties to the dispute themselves, any third parties involved, and even companies like Google that employ world-class machine learning algorithms; In most cases, an outcome that accurately predicts the outcome that the underlying court or arbitration would achieve should be achievable very inexpensively.

The next two days consisted of panel discussions on technical and philosophical topics, discussions about own projects and the future of blockchains in areas like reputation and the Internet of Things. Ethereum has been mentioned many times – not by our own marketing, but by many individuals who see Ethereum as a worthwhile technology to build their applications on.

The conference in Shanghai was just as impressive. This was also a two-day event, with the first day comprising consecutive public speeches and roundtables and the second day focusing on thematic sessions; I was personally involved in moderating the technical discussions on consensus and scalability. This was quite a large event, perhaps the biggest since the Global Bitcoin Summit in Beijing, which was my first experience of China over a year ago, and like the same period in the West, the audience has turned into a mainstream one: rather than just staff Bitcoin-specific (or even crypto-specific) projects, we saw representatives from big banks, government officials, Intel, Huawei and others from traditional industries there.

People seem excited about how they might adopt blockchain technology for their own use – and there has been a lot of interest, specifically in relation to Ethereum. It is indeed true that there are legal restrictions, some fairly clear and some gray, that limit the potential for Bitcoin or cryptocurrency adoption in China, but there are no issues with blockchain technology as of yet. The days before and after the conference we took time to meet Wanxiang as well as the other groups in China that we have regular contact with, especially me and Ming when we first met the wonderful team at http://ethfans . org/. We are still considering how to partner with Chinese individuals and companies and make Ethereum as useful as possible in the world’s largest economy by purchasing power par, but it is clear that the opportunities and potential are great.

Research and protocol development

We have identified four key areas of research related to the underlying protocol, which we believe represent the key milestones standing in the way between Ethereum as it currently exists and crypto utopia:

  • zk-SNARK integration: Integration, whether through a new opcode or ideally by leveraging the EVM’s existing 256-bit modular arithmetic, the ability of Ethereum contracts to verify concise zero-knowledge proofs. Given that the verification keys can be generated entirely off-chain, this is a bit easier than it looks, although it will require some infrastructure work once implemented to make it extremely useful. A first goal will be to use it to implement ultra-private coin mixes as well as a privacy-preserving reputation (“here’s proof showing that according to your reputation rating metric and using this published dataset, I got a score of over 250 to the blockchain, so you should trust me, but I won’t reveal which of the parties you should trust, I am”) and financial contracts between two parties, and the longer-term goal will be an implementation of Hawk on Ethereum; At and outside of the above conferences, we’ve had some productive conversations with some of the developers of these technologies on how we can achieve this.
  • Kasper: Ethereum’s Proof-of-Stake algorithm is now being developed by Vlad Zamfir with the help of Lucius Greg Meredith, myself and several others. Key components include a by-block rather than by-chain consensus and the concept of “economic consensus by bet” as a way to approach de facto finality at exponential speed rather than linear speed as seen in the Proof of work is the case. The goal is block time reduction (my personal opinion is that 4 seconds will probably prove to be a good balance between security and resource overuse and centralization risk; Vlad is more aggressive as usual), finality and much lower power consumption (and 10-100x lower). price for anarchy in general). Currently, Vlad and Greg are working on formally describing and implementing the non-economic part of the algorithm to mathematically prove convergence properties, and the second step will be the optimization of the economy.
  • scalability: Using a combination of sharding schemes, random sampling, heavy use of Merkle proofs, and asynchronous calls to increase the potential transaction throughput from ~10-20 transactions per second to over 100000 (or, if supersquare versions are used, a theoretical unlimited number). The basic concepts behind scaling have been set in stone for over six months, and our research team is very confident that the general approach is valid; What remains are the exact details of how to make optimal compromises that preserve as much of the functionality of Ethereum 1.0 as possible in a scalable context. A key design goal is to ensure that Ethereum 2.0 remains a superset of Ethereum 1.0; For example, synchronous calls should still be possible within a single shard, although cross-shard calls may require asynchrony. I plan to update my scalability paper to be more focused, readable, and updated with the latest ideas over the next month or so, although scalability research is generally put on hold until Casper is solidified.
  • EVM upgrades: Martin Becze has taken the lead in exploring WebAssembly as a candidate for an upgraded Ethereum virtual machine. WebAssembly shares many characteristics with the EVM: the need to run untrusted code, the need for the code to be very small, and the need to have multiple compatible implementations even though there is no gas counting. WebAssembly can be used to create a just-in-time compiler for the EVM, drastically speeding up the Ethereum js implementation, and it can also potentially be used as a virtual machine option itself by adding a transformation step, which is a Instruction to subtract gas adds code before each jump operation. Environment opcodes like BLOCK HASH, SSTOREetc. can be abstracted by using a generic foreign function interface (e.g. SSTORE(k,v) becomes FFI(0x55++k++v) Where 0x55; would be the marker that represents SSTORE).

That being said, research questions remain on middleware “on” Ethereum including on-chain services, decentralized governance, identity and reputation, random number generation, formal verification for Solidity (we have found a talented team in London who are excited to start researching the Themes) and predictions of market implementations, as well as projects that might exist “alongside” Ethereum (e.g. Whisper), although the foundation leaves it up to the community to do much of this additional work, which we have consciously adopted a strategy of itself to focus on the core (and in a very lightweight way).

In relation to Homestead, the Homestead Milestone has always been somewhat arbitrary in its definition; Unlike Frontier, which is marked by a grand and celebratory blockchain launch, and Metropolis, which is marked by the release of crap, Homestead should always simply be the point at which we go from “Ethereum is insecure” to “Ethereum.” pass is reasonably safe”. In the last two months we have released a wallet, alphas for pruning state trees in Pyethereum and cpp-Ethereum and header-first synchronization in Go, upgrades to Solidity, very early work in the “Light Ethereum Sub -Protocol” (LES) and will soon release the 1.0 versions of cpp-ethereum and mix.

Our internal goal was to launch Homestead when the Frontier network has been running successfully for 4 weeks with no serious issues (the ‘serious issue’ threshold has been downgraded from the Frontier definition of ‘consensus failure’ to an expanded definition that says something like this like “consensus outage OR people losing large amounts of money OR semi-major network disruption”); we plan to announce a more detailed strategy for Homestead soon, but suffice it to say we’re mostly there already.

DEVcon ​​is still scheduled for November 9-13 in London and we look forward to seeing everyone there!


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