Ethereum with its exceptional features like programmability, flexibility, synergy, modularity, and philosophy of humility is aiming to rule the decentralized world. While the founder Vitalik Buterin has an ambitious roadmap to strengthen the community further, let’s take a closer look and explore what’s in store with Ethereum roadmap –
Vitalik Buterin, the Founder of Ethereum, stresses that to push Ethereum to the next level – four issues need to be resolved – consensus safety, smart contract safety, privacy and the most important of all – SCALABILITY.
Here are the different stages worked on to make Ethereum robust, secure and scalable.
Metropolis claims to be a faster, lighter and more secure version of Ethereum. It would also provide enhanced flexibility to developers. The Metropolis phase is split into two releases- Byzantine and Constantinople
Byzantine – Executed in October 2017
Byzantine has a total of nine Ethereum Improvement Proposals [EIP] that once implemented results in enhanced security, scalability and privacy. It would also help in lowering fees for users and faster blocks. Some of the significant changes are –
With Metropolis phase, the users would have the ability to perform anonymous transactions, with the new privacy tool – zk-SNARKs Or zero-knowledge succinct non-interactive arguments of knowledge. This zero-knowledge proof would help Ethereum to store some of the contact variables [that are private to users] with them instead of floating them onto blockchain network.
What is A Zero Knowledge Proof?
In laymen terms, a zero-knowledge proof is the ability to prove the truth of a statement, without passing on any other additional information beyond the statement under evaluation
Let’s take an example – If you have a bunch of keys and want to make a statement “it has a key to your house,” you can prove that by just unlocking the house with the designated key, with revealing which key the key that belongs to your house.
Ethereum, in addition to zk-SNARKS, would also get ring signatures, just to provide the best of both the world to its loyal community.
As mentioned earlier, Metropolis would help in providing flexibility to smart contracts developers, to support that Ethereum would now support a concept called as Abstraction. The technique improves the programmers to provide only high-level concepts and to avoid overloading the user with details.
This would help the end users to have more control over their private keys, with an added ability for contracts to pay mining fees. Abstraction technique would also help in reducing the risk of getting hacked by quantum computing.
The phase would also target to initiate the movement of moving from a miner-based PoW to a validator-based PoS system, i.e., Ethereum to work on Proof of Stake rather than Proof of Work. This move would be challenging for miners and make it less profitable for them.
Constantinople – Not set date, but expected in 2018
The release Constantinople with no set timeline will be an introductory phase for upgrading Ethereum from Proof of Work [PoW] to Proof of Stake[PoS] to be called as Casper Protocol. During the upgrade process majority of the transaction would remain as PoW on Ethereum network, but every 100th transaction would be PoS with Constantinople release. Eventually, the entire Ethereum network would have a PoS protocol.
Casper protocol has two versions-
- Vlad Zamfir leads one
- FFG [ friendly finality gadget] that is being driven by Vitalik Buterin.
There would also be “STAKERS” – one who stake/stick their coins in special wallets and lock them. There is also a reward associated for stakers as an annual dividend of ether, so the more you stake, the larger the dividend.
Why is Ethereum Upgrading to PoS?
Following problems that could be Solved with PoS, but not with PoW
- Bad Actors are Punished for supporting invalid blocks
- Individuals have more incentive to act honestly than they do in a PoW system.
- Difficult to conduct a 51% attack as with PoS an individual need to purchase Ethereum market cap[ that amount is tremendous, may not be possible for individuals]. Real life example when on the Bitcoin network in July 2014, a bitcoin mining pool named Ghash controlled 51% of the mining power for 12 hours.
The last phase of the Ethereum Roadmap that will upgrade the entire network from PoW to PoS. At this phase, Ethereum with a built-in Turing-complete programming language can be used by other companies, developers, and entities to create applications, contracts, and systems.
Ethereum is still a nascent technology, but many promising scaling features will allow reaching the mainstream. If Ethereum can achieve its ambitious multi-year vision, then it will lay down the foundation and backbone of the blockchain ecosystem!
Our next post would talk about How Plasma and Sharding would help in Ethereum Scalability Problem. Stay tuned.