Vitalik Says Plasma is ‘Underrated’ and Deserves Another Look
Buterin believes recent advances in ZK technology make Plasma more viable.
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Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin believes that Plasma, a Layer 2 scaling solution for Ethereum, is an “underrated design space” that deserves more attention.
In a recent blog post, Buterin argued that improvements in zero-knowledge proofs address past limitations and make Plasma more viable. “The advent of validity proofs (aka ZK-SNARKs) gives us a reason to rethink this decision. The largest challenge of making Plasma work for payments, client-side data storage, can be efficiently addressed with validity proofs,” he wrote.
Live other L2s, Plasma aims to scale Ethereum by moving most computation and data off the main blockchain while still relying on the underlying Ethereum blockchain for security. This allows for significantly greater transaction throughput since the main chain does not have to process every transaction.
“Plasma lets us completely sidestep the data availability question, greatly reducing transaction fees,” Buterin wrote. Plasma can achieve this by only posting small cryptographic commitments on the Ethereum mainnet rather than full data.
A key distinction Buterin draws between Plasma and zero-knowledge (ZK) rollups is how they handle data storage. While ZK rollups can cryptographically prove the validity of transactions, they still rely on the full data being stored on Ethereum. Plasma gets around this limitation by only putting small cryptographic commitments on-chain rather than complete data.
Buterin believes recent advances make Plasma more compelling than other Layer 2 solutions like ZK rollups which have gained more popularity recently. While ZK-rollups can have issues with data availability, Plasma’s ability to minimize data availability limitations makes it worth re-exploring according to Buterin.
The Ethereum founder sees Plasma as a way to improve the scalability of chains using validity proofs like zkSync and StarkNet. By leveraging Plasma in addition to ZK-proofs, these chains may be able to reduce fees and provide a better user experience.
While Plasma fell out of favor after its inception in 2017, Buterin believes now is the right time to revisit the technology and realize its potential, especially as ZK networks finally launch this year.