Vitalik Buterin proposes to make Ethereum (ETH) PoS ‘lighter and simpler’

The Ethereum co-founder proposed lowering validator signatures to alleviate the load and improve the accuracy of forecasting future loads. Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, has proposed a method to lower the load on the Ethereum blockchain and make proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus “considerably simpler and lighter.” On December 28, Vitalik Buterin presented a mechanism for decreasing the amount of signatures necessary by validators to keep the network operational, hence reducing demand. To accomplish decentralisation and allow average people to engage in staking, Ethereum currently supports a relatively large number of validators, approximately 895,000.

Supporting this many validators, however, has significant technological drawbacks because it requires the network to handle a large number of signatures, roughly 28,000 each slot, “which is a very high load,” he warned. Furthermore, he added, maintaining this load necessitates various tradeoffs, such as restricting quantum resistance, difficult forking, and scaling signatures via zero-knowledge proofs (SNARKs).

It also falls short of the goal of allowing regular people to join, as the 32 ETH required to become a validator remains prohibitively expensive for many. Instead of attempting to achieve an ever-increasing number of signatures per slot, Buterin proposed a more reasonable alternative with roughly 8,192 signatures per slot, down from the current 28,000.

This would allow for significant technological simplicity, making the chain more quantum-resistant while keeping the total slashable ETH at roughly 1-2 million ETH. Slashing is a method used to encourage proper validator behaviour. Buterin proposed three approaches: completely depending on decentralised staking pools, a two-tiered system with “heavy” and “light” staking, and rotational participation with responsible committees.

The offered solutions strive to keep the digital signature load under control. The main benefit would be to keep future signature loads manageable, making protocol and infrastructure development considerably easier. “The future load of the Ethereum protocol becomes no longer an unknown,” he said. He went on to say that “it can be raised in the future through hard forks, but only when developers are confident that technology has improved enough to be able to handle a larger number of signatures-per-slot with the same level of ease.” Vitalik Buterin cautioned in May about the hazards of “stretching” Ethereum’s consensus beyond its fundamental functions of confirming blocks and safeguarding the network.

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