Vitalik Buterin Suggests Simplifying Ethereum PoS
Ethereum’s co-founder Vitalik Buterin has introduced a new proposal aimed at enhancing the efficiency of its proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism. This move is expected to notably simplify the PoS process and reduce the operational load on the blockchain.
Reducing Validator Signatures: A Step Towards Efficiency
Buterin’s strategy focuses on minimizing the number of signatures validators must provide to maintain network functionality. This reduction in signatures is crucial for easing the network’s burden. Ethereum, known for its robust validator base of approximately 895,000, pursues decentralization and encourages public participation in staking. However, this large number of validators necessitates processing an immense volume of signatures – about 28,000 per slot. This requirement poses a significant challenge in terms of network load.
The current system’s demand for high signature counts leads to various technical compromises. These include limitations on quantum resistance, complexities in network forking, and the need to scale signatures using zero-knowledge proofs (SNARKs). Moreover, the system’s goal of facilitating public participation in staking is not entirely met due to the high minimum requirement of 32 ETH for validator status, which remains out of reach for many.
Buterin advocates for a more balanced approach. He suggests reducing the number of signatures per slot to approximately 8,192, down from the current 28,000. This modification would not only simplify technical aspects but also enhance the network’s quantum resistance, while maintaining a high total of slashable ETH (between 1-2 million). Slashing is an essential mechanism to ensure validator compliance and integrity.
Innovative Solutions for Sustainable Network Management
To achieve this reduced signature load, Buterin proposes several innovative methods. These include complete reliance on decentralized staking pools, a two-tier system comprising ‘heavy’ and ‘light’ staking, and rotating participation with accountable committees. Each of these approaches is designed to manage digital signature loads effectively.
This restructuring of the signature load is critical for the manageable future development of Ethereum’s protocol and infrastructure. It ensures that the future signature load remains predictable and manageable. Buterin emphasizes that any increase in the number of signatures per slot would only be considered following technological advancements that can support such an expansion without compromising efficiency.
Back in May, Buterin had highlighted the risks associated with overburdening Ethereum’s consensus layer beyond its primary functions of block validation and network security. His current proposal is a direct response to these concerns, aiming to optimize the network while maintaining its foundational integrity and security.