Ethereum’s rollups are ‘gold standard’ but Plasma needs a revisit: Buterin

    16 Nov 2023

    Plasma, a once-prominent Ethereum layer 2 scaling solution, should be revisited by teams currently working on zero-knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machines (EVMs), says Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin.

    Invented in 2017, Plasma diverts data and computation — except deposits, withdrawals and Merkle roots — to an off-chain environment.

    It was superseded by optimistic and zero-knowledge (ZK)-rollups as the two solutions offered cheaper client-side data storage costs and security properties that “cannot be matched,” Buterin explained in a Nov. 14 X (Twitter) post.

    Buterin said rollups remain the “gold standard,” but Plasma is an “underrated design space” that shouldn’t be forgotten.

    “Plasma can be a significant security upgrade for chains that would otherwise be validiums.” Buterin added.

    “The fact that ZK-EVMs are finally coming to fruition this year makes it an excellent opportunity to re-explore this design space, and come up with even more effective constructions to simplify the developer experience and protect users’ funds.”

    Like Plasma, validums move data and computation off-chain but implement ZK-proofs to validate transactions. Plasma, on the other hand, uses fraud proofs — which are much slower.

    Buterin argued improvements in ZK-proofs, such as validity proofs, address the past limitations of Plasma, making it more viable as a scaling solution.

    Adapting Plasma for applications beyond payments has also proven to be an Achilles heel for Plasma before ZK-proofs entered the mainstream, Buterin acknowledged.

    Buterin expects the Ethereum layer 2 ecosystem to evolve with diverse technological approaches.

    Minimal Viable Plasma, Plasma Cash and Plasma Cashflow are among the iterations that have stemmed from Plasma.

    Ethereum layer 2 scaling-focused firm Polygon Labs implemented Plasma in 2019 but has implemented several other solutions since.

    The movement away from Plasma was partially attributed to Plasma Group, a nonprofit research firm announcing that they would cease working on Ethereum-based scalability in January 2020.

    OMG, the token of OMG Network — which uses Plasma — spiked 28.6% to $0.78 in a three-hour window following Buterin’s post, according to CoinGecko. However, it has since fallen 14.3% to $0.67.


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