Ethereum, the popular blockchain platform, has been facing significant challenges due to its goal of achieving decentralization and involving regular users in staking. The co-founder of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin, has recently proposed measures to reduce the burden on the Ethereum blockchain and simplify its proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus. This article explores Buterin’s proposal and its potential impact on the future of Ethereum.
Simplifying the Proof-of-Stake Consensus
The current approach of Ethereum, which supports around 895,000 validators, has led to technical challenges for the network. One major issue is the high load imposed on the network due to the need to process a large number of signatures. With approximately 28,000 signatures per slot, the Ethereum blockchain is under significant strain. Moreover, this approach has drawbacks such as limitations on quantum resistance, complex forking, and the necessity to scale signatures through zero-knowledge proofs (SNARKs).
To address these issues, Buterin proposes reducing the number of signatures per slot to a more moderate level. By aiming for technical simplification and enhanced quantum resistance, the Ethereum co-founder aims to alleviate the burden on the blockchain. Instead of supporting nearly 900,000 validators, the proposed solution suggests approximately 8,192 signatures per slot, reducing the current load of 28,000 signatures.
One of the limitations of the current approach is the high minimum requirement of 32 ETH to become a validator. This hinders the full participation of ordinary individuals in the staking process. By implementing Buterin’s proposal, Ethereum could enable broader participation by transitioning to a more moderate solution. The adjustment would maintain a significant total slashable ETH at around 1-2 million ETH while simplifying the process for regular users.
Buterin suggests three potential approaches to achieve the goal of reducing the digital signature load on the Ethereum network. The first approach involves relying on decentralized staking pools. This would allow validators to pool their resources, reducing the individual burden on signatures. The second approach suggests implementing a two-tiered system with “heavy” and “light” staking. By categorizing validators based on their stake, the network can distribute the load more effectively. The third approach is introducing rotating participation with accountable committees. This would involve periodically rotating the responsibility of validation among a group of validators, further distributing the workload.
Reducing the number of signatures per slot to around 8,192, as proposed by Buterin, comes with several benefits. It would enable major technical simplification, enhance the chain’s quantum resistance, and make protocol and infrastructure development easier. By setting the future signature load at a manageable level, developers can plan and adjust the Ethereum protocol accordingly. Hard forks can be scheduled when technology has improved enough to handle a larger number of signatures per slot with ease.
Vitalik Buterin’s proposal to reduce the burden on the Ethereum blockchain and simplify its proof-of-stake consensus holds significant potential for the future of the platform. By decreasing the number of signatures per slot and promoting user participation, Ethereum can achieve greater decentralization while alleviating technical challenges. The proposed approaches, such as decentralized staking pools and accountable committees, offer promising solutions to manage the digital signature load effectively. As Ethereum continues to gain attention and experience growth, these measures will play a crucial role in ensuring the scalability and sustainability of the platform.