Plasma: The New Future?

Andrey Vlasenko, Papyrus Lead Software Engineer, comments on Plasma, the new Ethereum mechanism.

Last week we’ve seen a working draft of Plasma whitepaper published by Vitalik Buterin and Joseph Poon. Yet another scaling mechanism for Ethereum (complementary to PoS and sharding), Plasma promises a way to execute smart contracts off the main blockchain at virtually unlimited scale. This would be achieved by building child PoS-based blockchains — in fact, whole hierarchies of them for a multitude of applications — each chain committing only a tiny fraction of its block data to the parent chain. A fraudulent computation in the child chain would be penalized by proof of fraud mechanism on the parent level; Plasma also suggest a way to incentivize proper coordination and block propagation between child chains participants.

Still in draft and probably quite some time before release, Plasma looks very promising. We at Papyrus will be closely following their progress, as well as any technical details actual projects share on the use of the technology (so far, OmiseGO seem to be the first to claim the actual use of Plasma), searching for inspiring ideas.

We realized Papyrus would need some off-chain solution for arranging payment channels between ecosystem participants from the very inception of the idea — hence a separate Scalability Layer in our architecture. For the initial launch, we expect that mere state channels directly enforced by Ethereum contracts will suffice, but as the Papyrus adoption grows and the number of participating publishers reaches thousands we will need a solution to scale without cluttering the blockchain. Our plan was to elaborate on the idea of a private blockchain between ecosystem participants, specialized in executing a set of legitimate contracts (obviously, Papyrus contracts) with minimal transaction fees, and periodically establishing the recent non-conflicting state as a base state for subsequent computation (so that the prior history could be archived). We now consider adjusting our plans and evaluating Plasma as another possible option for scaling Papyrus.

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