ZK-rollups are the hottest thing in Ethereum right now, having seemingly appeared out of nowhere in late 2018 to fundamentally reshape the “Eth2” plan to scale via sharding alone.
Zero-knowledge, or validity proof rollups, essentially perform the computations for many thousands of transactions away from Ethereum and then write a tiny cryptographic proof back to the blockchain that verifies those transactions were performed correctly. It’s much faster and cheaper than using the base layer and has the potential for virtually unlimited scaling.
To an outsider, it looked like the technology went from 0 to 100 in a couple of years, but from the perspective of Polygon Miden founder Bobbin Threadbare, it doesn’t seem fast enough.
“Your internal perception is that it’s moving slowly,” he says. “People say, ‘We’re going to be doing this in a year,’ and it takes longer because people overestimate [how quickly it can be done].”
“But if you take a step back out of your own bubble, I do think that the tech is moving at an amazing pace. A lot of the things we’re doing now did not exist 10 years ago — or even maybe like eight years ago — they were just theoretical concepts.”
“So, it’s not often that you see that something goes from pure theory — that is probably not practical or ‘maybe we can do it in the long term future’ — to ‘OK, we’re doing it now, and there are now billions of dollars riding on it.’”
Polygon Miden at StarkWare Sessions
Magazine catches up with Threadbare at the StarkWare Sessions in Israel. Since Polygon Miden is a competing ZK-rollup solution to StarkWare’s tech, this is a little like interviewing the CEO of Pepsi at a Coca-Cola convention. But it turns out zero-knowledge proofs are not as cutthroat as sodas.
“On the technical side, there is a lot of collaboration,” Threadbare explains. “If you follow Twitter, you may get an impression that people are at each other’s throats all the time, but you know, it’s Twitter more than anything.”
He points out that all of the projects are building open-source technology (or plan to make it open-source). “We’re not building like Web2 walled gardens here,” he says, adding that various projects “don’t necessarily perceive other rollups as their technical competitors; we learn from each other more.”
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