What do we know about the new Plasma protocol by Vitalik Buterin and Joseph Poon. What problems does it solve?
On August 9, Vitalik Buterin and Joseph Poon (co-founder of Lightning) presented a Plasma project white paper to the wide audience. In fact, this is the implementation of Lightning and Raiden technologies using Ethereum. The existing version of WP will be greatly expanded and complemented, now it is practically a draft version. Nevertheless, the main essence of the project and its potential possibilities can be considered now.
One of the main obstacles to the full implementation of the crypto currency in the real world economy is the low productivity of the classic blockchain. At the present time there is not a single public blockchain that could be compared with the productivity of centralized solutions, such as Paypal, Mastercard or Visa.
Of course, this statement can be partially disputed, because the organizers of some blockchains say that they have solved this problem. However, all these blockchains achieve high performance due to the reduction of the safety parameters to a critical level. Therefore, they can be used only in private blockchains, where all validators must be conscientious by default.
The developers of the Lightning platform offer to solve the productivity problem by taking channels or sidechains out of the blockchain. Most of the transactions will occur in them, unloading the main blockchain. It will only record the finished result — the information about opening and closing channels.
Lightning works on Bitcoin Core, its analogue in the ethereum network is the Raiden sidechains system. But, unlike Bitcoin, Ethereum allows you to grow in many different ways.
One of these methods is offered by the Plasma project, which, according to the developers, will accelerate to billions of operations per second. Here the idea of taking channels and sidechains out of the main blockchain develops, offering to take out a completely new blockchain!
The functions, rules of conduct and consensus in the subsidiary blockchain will be concluded by a smart contract in the root network. A potentially large number of participants in the subsidiary blockchain is brought to a compact form by Merkle Tree and written into the main network, so that external observers can monitor the subsidiary blockchain. If someone wants to take part in a subsidiary blockchain, he must pay to the subsidiary blockchain smart contract.
Let’s consider a situation when the Proof of Authority (PoA) acts on the subsidiary network, i.e. only a certain set of nodes has the privilege to confirm transactions. The creator of the smart contract of the subsidiary network (operator) assumes responsibility for updating the data in the root network, and makes a huge contribution to this smart contract as a deposit. Now he has an incentive to behave correctly. And since all members of the blockchain, both users of the subsidiary, and simple observers from the main blockchain, can observe transactions in the created subsidiary blockchain, in case they find an error in the calculations, the operator will be fined for the amount of the incentive, and the participants of the subsidiary for small fee will be able to withdraw their funds back to the root network.
The subsidiary networks are subject to many well-known limitations, but how such a high speed of calculation is achieved? For this reason, the authors of the project propose to make one more subsidiary inside the subsidiary blockchain!
In this way, a hierarchy of blockchains will be created, where each superior is the supreme judge giving part of his authority to other judges and looking after their correct behavior.
In the subsidiary network it will be possible to operate not only with Ethereum, but also with any ERC20 compatible tokens. And since the cost of the token will depend, among other things, on the correctness of the participants’ behavior within the subsidiary, which will give an additional incentive to all participants not to violate the rules.
Unlike the existing sidechains, where the emphasis is on productivity at the expense of safety, Plasma pays special attention to the security of the network.
And, although the Plasma protocol was announced quite unexpectedly, and most of experts did not have time to give any qualified opinion about the project, it is possible that it will really be able to bring the blockchain to a new level. And what do you think?
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