Optimism PBC Blog
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Optimism PBC Blog

Our Pragmatic Path to Decentralization

Uh Oh: Every L2 Has Upgrade Keys 😱

State of Layer 2 Centralization

Your security is only as strong as your weakest link. The best encryption techniques cannot save you if your password is passwordpasswordpassword. So what’s the weakest link in the L2 space?

No matter how sturdily built, a castle on a weak foundation still might fall.

Why L2 is not Decentralized

A Necessary Evil

Before jumping into the solution, let’s first establish the problem: The reason all L2s have upgrade keys is because writing complex, bug-free code is incredibly difficult. Every new line of code written is a new chance to introduce a bug.

Look to Ethereum

Ethereum itself is a great case study in decentralized security, and we can use it to judge the difficulty of writing a bug free L2. Throughout its history, Ethereum has had lots of bugs which were introduced, caught, fixed, sometimes triggering unintentional hard forks (trust us, it’s not fun).

Pragmatic Path to Decentralization

Ethereum’s success in minimizing security and maximizing uptime has not been dumb luck — it’s owing to the fact that Ethereum strategically created a multi-client ecosystem with multiple distinct implementations that interoperate.

Decentralizing Optimism with a Multi-Client Architecture

We design Optimism to hold true to Ethereum’s philosophy, not just from a social impact perspective, but also a technical one. Since day 1 writing our Optimism: Bedrock designs, we’ve architected it to use the ETH2 merge API, which enables easy integration with multiple clients.

ZK Rollups: An Extra Layer of Security

We often get asked “will you adopt zero knowledge proof technology”? The answer is that it is possible, but not in the way you might think. There’s a long road ahead, but if ZK technology becomes powerful enough to support EVM Equivalence, it is possible to add it as another client in this multi-client ecosystem. This doesn’t mean moving away from our current architecture or core functionality, but it does mean another layer of security.

The Rollout

Currently, we’re deep in the developmental heart of Bedrock. This will result in a detailed specification for our EVM Equivalent rollup, along with the first rollup client and the MIPS fault proof, Cannon. At that point, the multi-client journey begins.

  1. Release Bedrock, enabling a multi-client architecture.
  2. Incentivize/support the creation of alternative Optimism clients.
  3. Ship the multi-client proof contracts.
  4. Drop our upgrade keys into Mount Doom.

We’re Decentralized Now

Congrats! You made it to the end of this post which means L2 is fully decentralized and we have achieved the full L2 vision. You now live in crypto nirvana.



Blogs and musings on optimistic rollup and public goods.

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