Vitalik Buterin Shows How Coming Evolution of Ethereum Might Look


Many stakeholders in the cryptocurrency ecosystem know that Ethereum is starting its major multi-phase Serenity upgrade next year, and some of those stakeholders can explain the technical intricacies of that transition in detail.

Yet there are others in the space who are knowledgeable about Ethereum and cryptocurrencies in general but are still fuzzy on precisely how “Ethereum 2.0” will come about and what will happen to the current Proof-of-Work (PoW) Ethereum chain accordingly.

Well have no fear, because Vitalik Buterin is here…

Surely busy with this year’s Devcon 5 activities in in Osaka, Japan, in full swing, the Ethereum creator and co-founder still found time to write up two separate posts in the Ethereum Research forum that further clarify what users might expect in the smart contract platform’s biggest evolutions to date.

In the middle of Devcon, @VitalikButerin pens not one but *two* posts addressing concerns about (1) the ETH 1.0 -> 2.0 transition and (2) ETH 2.0 composability.


— Spencer Noon (@spencernoon) October 10, 2019

ETH1 to ETH2 Transition Can Go Smoothly, Buterin Argues

In the first of these posts, Buterin outlined how the Ethereum 2.0 transition could go rather smoothly for users, beginning by explaining:

“If you are an application developer or a user, and the roadmap described in this post is used to complete the eth1 -> eth2 transition, the changes and disruptions that you experience will actually be quite limited. Existing applications will keep running with no change. All account balances, contract code and contract storage (this includes ERC20 balances, active CDPs, etc etc) will carry over.”

With that said, the programmer noted that one pressure point will be increases in gas costs for certain opcodes, though he said this dynamic can be mitigated if dApp projects avoid creating apps “with high witness sizes.”

Going on, Buterin said “[s]uppose that phases 0-2 have happened” in the Serenity transition and that “the eth2 chain is stably running.” He explained that during this period the Ethereum 1.0 chain will still be running too, though when the time arrives ETH 2.0 validators will choose a final ETH 1.0 block. That block and everything before it will become a subsystem, i.e. an execution environment (EE), in ETH 2.0.

As such, that means while the original Ethereum chain will “eventually … die off,” the Ethereum 1.0 system will live inside Ethereum 2.0 forever.

“From a user’s point of view, ethereum would ‘feel’ the same pre- and post-transition,” Buterin said, adding the following example:

“You have a CDP on MakerDAO. You go to sleep, and when you wake up the transition has happened. You are able to interact with and liquidate your CDP by sending transactions as before, except your client code would see that you are post-transition and add witness data to your transaction and send it to the eth2 network instead of the eth1 network.”

What About Composability?

As Devcon 5 kicked off, some goers aired concerns that Ethereum 2.0 might break the composability currently found on Ethereum 1.0. In response, Buterin’s second post addressed this question and made a case that such composability will “largely” be intact:

“There has been concern recently about whether or not the ‘composability’ property of Ethereum – basically, the ability of different applications to easily talk to each other – will be preserved in an eth2 cross shard context. This post argues that, yes, it largely will be.”

As the Serenity upgrade advances, sharding will come to Ethereum, which will entail dividing the Ethereum network into portions that each have their unique states. In that vein, Buterin argued in his new piece that composability will be generally undisturbed in the sense dApps can live on single shards and rely on cross-shard transactions.

Taking the example of crypto lending dApp Compound, he explained:

“Compound could also exist on a single shard … Users with a token would move their token over to the shard the particular Compound instance is on, and (create | fill | bite) a leverage position as before.”

Of course, there are still plenty of things to be worked out in the Ethereum ecosystem, but for his part Buterin isn’t concerned about a disruptive Ethereum 2.0 transition or major composability woes.

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