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Ness Labs: Make the most of your mind
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A Summary of

Scaling Tezos

Arthur Breitman
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Scaling isn't really quadratic

  • The blockchain model is often described as having every participant validate every transaction
  • "Sharding" is a scaling technique that lets validators work on separate sub-chains
  • However, quadratic scaling isn't relevantly correct
  • A transaction bottleneck is the requirement of short validation time
  • Quadratic scaling also conflates validators with those who use the network

High throughput can be sustained without significantly hurting decentralization

  • A better argument is that freedom of entry in the set of validators is key to maintaining honesty
  • Ethereum stated that it is sharding its blockchain because a "cheap laptop" should be sufficient to validate lightweight sub-chains
  • Low barrier to entry in validation is important in maintaining a healthy decentralized & censorship-resistant network

A far more powerful technique: recursive SNARKs

  • SNARKs are "succinct non-interactive zero-knowledge proofs" used in Zcash for protecting transaction privacy
  • They can be powerful in increasing scalability
  • In practice, a user could sync with the blockchain from scratch & validate it all the way in less than a second
  • SNARKs do have one drawback: they require a trusted setup that can be performed safety but can't be audited afterwards
  • STARKs have similar properties without the trusted setup
  • However, they take more time than would be practical
  • Research is active & proof generation speed has already improved considerable
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