Scalability has been one of the biggest issues when it comes to the adoption of the Ethereum, and the limit in the number of computations per second that Ethereum can complete has proven to difficult to overcome.
However, in an interview with CoinDesk, a new TrueBit protocol is being released this December, that will supposedly remove the Ethereum “gas limit” – which is what currently limits the number of computations per second that the network can achieve.
There are several scaling solutions that are currently being engineered for the Ethereum platform, but TrueBit has been designed specifically to deal with heavy computations, such as those video broadcasting and machine learning would require; it distinguishes itself by focusing on the computational power of the network at large, instead of just transaction speed.
Zack Lawrence, co-founder of 1protocol, who developed the technology, said:
“In short, the new scheme would be a vast simplification of the current TrueBit protocol,”
This announcement comes after the speculation that someone could exploit the protocol, after an amendment to its white paper was released last month.
Jason Teutsch, a mathematician and co-founder of TrueBit, commented on this vulnerability:
“When so many people have eyes on the papers, over time, you get more and more confident that it’s correct, but it’s always an ongoing process for these things that are living systems… Now, we go another layer down the protocol rabbit hole, it’s this iterative process of getting deeper and deeper into this.”
So how does TrueBit work?
TrueBit’s main goal is to remove the gas limit on Ethereum. It will do this by moving computations off-chain and outsourcing them to an external marketplace, where participants could be rewarded for solving and verifying those computations. Within the marketplace “task givers” pay “verifiers” to solve computations in exchange for rewards, while “validators” check that the computations are correct.
Additionally, an incentive scheme called the “forced errors jackpot” is designed in order to ensure that validators are actively checking for corectness by requiring verifiers to occassionally submit incorrect information on purpose. If a validator finds these forced errors, he is rewarded with a substantial payout – the “jackpot”.
The whole framework of this new protocol is that everyone can participate openly instea of limiting the participants’ tasks. The “verifiers” still get paid, but if another participant finds an error, they can submit what they believe the computation should be and enter that into the verification game. All the potential answers are then pooled together until a consensus is reached.
The verification pool is costly to participants hence the protocol is designed in such a way that it incentivizes them to work together honestly so disputes do not occur, since reaching consensus within that verification pool would be costly for everyone.
Lawrence mentions that this iterative process eliminates the potential security flaws pointed out in the new amendment, it is easier to implement and could increase the number of computations participants are willing to perform since it eliminates the once-every-so-often jackpot.
Teutsch explained that both versions of the protocol will still experience an eventual limit when it comes to massive computations. For example, if the verification process becomes too lengthy or too costly, verifiers might be tempted to ignore some of the errors. He said:
“Remember that the verification game is really slow compared to native computation, so my concern expressed here is more than just theoretical,”
Plus, because TrueBit is a protocol built on game theory (rather than relying on more familiar security auditing processes), Teutsch said, its “security is an observational science,” in which devs try to put themselves in every position an attacker might be in.
Subsequently, Teutsch said that developers might decide to run both the original protocol (now internally nicknamed TrueBit Classic) and the new protocol in parallel for better security. With regards to digital security and the challenges that it faces, he said:
“Full confidence happens once you have all the money in the world behind it, and it’s sat there for a few years.”