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Vitalik Buterin Proposes Simplified Ethereum Proof of Stake Design

Hongji Feng
Last updated: | 1 min read
Ethereum
Source: DALL·E

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has proposed three alternative methods aimed at simplifying the Ethereum blockchain’s proof of stake design.

This initiative, according to Buterin’s latest blog post, is intended to address a potential systemic complexity within Ethereum’s consensus mechanism. The proposals center on reducing the number of signatures required per slot in the blockchain.

According to Buterin, Ethereum is currently supporting 895,000 validator objects for decentralization, processing about 28,000 signatures in a single day and 1,790,000 post-SSF. His detailed idea intended to reduce the load to 8,192 signatures per slot post-SSF.

Ethereum Proof of Stake Simplification Proposal


Buterin’s first proposal, the shift towards decentralized staking pools, aims to simplify the proof of stake process by reducing the number of individual validators. This approach requires increasing the minimum ether required for staking, thereby compelling smaller validators to form pools.

“We could raise the min deposit size to 4,096 ETH and make a total cap of 4,096 validators,” said Buterin.

The second proposal introduces a dual-layer of stakers to ensure network security and efficiency. Buterin explained this as creating “a ‘heavy’ layer with a 4,096 ETH requirement that participates in finalization, and a ‘light’ layer with no minimum.”

Buterin’s third proposal, involving a rotating set of validators, is designed to distribute the validation process more evenly across the network. He suggests, “For each slot, we choose 4,096 currently active validators, and we carefully adjust that set during each slot in such a way that we still have safety.”

“Why Not Just Do Committees”


Vitalik Buterin highlighted the limitations of the committee-based security model used by other blockchains. This model, which selects a group of validators randomly for each slot, lacks accountability in case of a 51% attack. In such an attack, the economic cost to the perpetrators is minimal since most validators involved in the attack remain unseen, not being chosen for the committee.

Contrastingly, Ethereum’s current system imposes severe penalties for similar attacks, slashing a large fraction of the attacking validators’ deposits. While Ethereum’s high penalty approach is effective, it might be excessively punitive. So a balanced solution that still maintains a high total amount of slashable Ethereum but makes some concessions on validator accountability would be the answer.