Vitalik Buterin Finds Scalability Support from Zcash to Improve Ethereum “By A Huge Amount”

The Ethereum network has been under scrutiny lately and has experienced a growth of over 3,200% in their transactions. Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, has found some value in Zcash that may provide them with some benefits. A new type of cryptography could be the solution to the scalability problem that Ethereum has faced in the last few years. According to Buterin, he believes that the tech could impact their scale “by a huge amount.” More specifically, they see the platform increasing to 500 transactions per second, due to the ability to “mass-validate” these trades.

Right now, the only options for this type of scalability is with solutions like Plasma and Raiden. The new protocol, which is being called zk-snarks, will make it possible to compress large batches of data into succinct proofs. The proofs have the same size, even with plenty of data stored in it, as they “verify the correctness of computations without having to execute them” or “learn what was executed.”

Buterin said,

“We can actually scale asset transfer transactions on Ethereum by a huge amount, without using layer 2s that introduce liveness assumptions (e.g. channels, plasma), by using zk-SNARKs to mass-validate transactions.” He added that there is a protocol that uses a “relayer” node, which basically combines the transactions and charges a small feel. Buterin noted, “Anyone can be a relayer; there is no assumption of even an untrusted special ‘operator' existing.”

To make the concept a little easier to understand, he said,

“There are two classes of user: (i) transactor, and (ii) relayer. A relayer takes a set of operations from transactors and combines them all into a transaction and makes a ZK-SNARK to prove the validity and publishes the ZK-SNARK and the transaction data in a highly compressed form to the blockchain. A relayer gets rewarded for this by transaction fees from transactors.”

With this kind of setup, there is a possibility of reaching “~24x for ETH transactions and ~50x for ERC-20 transfers.” The integration of the new protocol could not come at a better time, considering the pressure that Ethereum researchers are facing to improve the transaction capacity. In fact, as recently as Friday, a tweet from Parity communications officer Afri Schoedon encouraged developers to stop adding to Ethereum’s reservoir of dApps.

When faced with the need to respond, Buterin noted that the scaling options for zk-snark had the potential to reduce pressure on the blockchain. As the discussion continued on Twitter, Buterin explained that the technology is still exhaustive of the network at the moment, but it will help consumers in the future.

To elaborate, Buterin noted,

“I understand that the above requires some quite heavy-duty computing work on the part of the relayers… But at this point it's widely known that optimizing snark/stark provers is super-important so I'm sure there will be more and more software engineering work going into it over time.”

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