Ethereum a Step Closer in Blockchain Sharding: Says Vlad Zamfir
Word is that Ethereum is a step closer to sharding its blockchain.
Long-time blockchain researcher and developer Vlad Zamfir claims that he has made significant developments towards coding a successful proof-of-concept that will see successful partitioning of the Ethereum blockchain. This development is supposed to have happened during ethereum hackathon EthBerlin that happened this week. Zamfir was assisted by other developers, including Steve Marx, Tim Beiko and pseudonymous coder “maurelian.” According to these developers, the new code is to show how different shards of Ethereum will manage to communicate on Ethereum blockchain.
What is sharding?
Sharding is a new experiment blockchain developers are trying to come up with a solution to scale the ever-growing networks. It is a way of breaking down the blockchain into various smaller parts known as shards.
As of the moment, many Ethereum developers including its founder Vitalik Buterin are trying to make it possible the sharing of a part of Ethereum. There efforts though are still a work in progress and are yet to bear any fruits. It is estimated that such developments will begin working in at least two years from now.
Zamfir said to CoinDesk that the proof-of-concept is still not close to production-ready. However, he continued saying that the concept has a code that will play a vital role in its deployment on Ethereum.
He further added that it is really a proof-of-concept of the most central element in his sharding roadmap. This concept prevents the cross-shard atomicity failure. In other terms it blocks the finalization of cross-shard atomicity failure in such a manner that it will never see a ‘send’ or a ‘not received’ being finalized.
Listening to him explain, you may not quite understand the technical terms in relation to this concept, but in simple terms, Zamfir and his fellow developers showed how it is possible to send ETH, ethereum’s native digital currency and other messages across a sharded blockchain securely.
The proof-of-concept is available in Github, an open-source code repository, and incorporates a visualizer that enables users to download and simulate the codebase. The proof-of-work is not yet finished but Zamfir assures users that they are working on it its integration and should be ready in a week’s time. It will be a package with full instructions that you can follow and have it running on your computer.
For educational purposes only
According to Zamfir, much of the proof-or-concept code had already been developed, but was finally written into code at the hackathon. Speaking to CoinDesk, he said that he never had to do much during that event since the specification had already been completely done. He only had to carry out the implementation which he said was mainly for educational purposes.
Zamfir further added that there are so many people who do not look at research and if especially that particular research is published in a manner that is less compelling. He says that seeing software is an experience that some people find interesting and compelling.
He was quickly to also note the proof-of-concept does not have a lot of significance considering that it does not seek to unravel any new revelations, neither is it seeking to solve any existing challenges. The system lacks a process for transaction fees and a system to direct messages and transactions across the different shards on the network. He finished saying that the system lacks a plausible routing protocol. All that he was doing was trying to demonstrate the passing of messages across the shards in relation to the fork choice rule.
The technical of blockchain sharding
The “fork choice rule” that Zamfir is talking about is the new code that will guide how the Ethereum shards will communicate with the main blockchain. It is this code that Buterin released in a proof-of-concept in May.
Zamfir’s proof-of-concept while still building on the larger body of ideas being floated regarding the concept of sharding, is also being built to work in collaboration with his “correct-by-construction” research. This research includes rules which blockchains should adhere to come into consensus in relation to the transaction histories.
Zamfir told CoinDesk that to him, it is all about attempting to use the correct-by-construction model and that all of his sharding work is contained within that framework. Following this criterion, his roadmap will deviate a little bit from that of Ethereum since they will be fulfilling what he calls “different design criteria.”
Despite the fact that they are facing a similar kind of a problem, which is trying to develop a solution to ethereum’s scaling hurdles, and also finalizing the upcoming switch to a more standard method of securing the blockchain, called proof-of-stake, Zamfir has come up with a different design as compared to others looking at sharding.
He told CoinDesk that he sees the central point of sharding as a cross-shard message or in other terms, a cross-shard consistency problem. He says that he has a different view from Vitalik, who sees it as sharding of availability, validity and execution of the network.
Zamfir has a diverging view from Vitalik of how he views consensus protocols and by extension, his view of sharding. He finished by saying that he is focusing on what he thinks are the hardest problems first.