‘Decentralization Is the Most Competitive Function of Eth2.0’: Ethereum Researcher Aditya Asgaonkar

By jun gong | Ethereum Builder Story | 15 Dec 2020

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We would like to thank Aditya Asgaonkar, Eth2.0 researcher at Ethereum Foundation for doing such an inspiring (and also super fun!) AMA session with us last week. He talked about everything from Eth2.0 to the decentralization from the next phase of Eth2.0 to the transition from Eth1 to Eth2.0. Who would know an IPFS node is one of the three-essentials that he would love to bring to a Planet of ETH?

Also, huge shoutout to ECN for the support as always.

Here are the highlights of the AMA with Aditya in case you missed it.

Everything You Need to Know About Aditya Asgaonkar

Aditya Asgaonkar (AA): I have a bachelor’s degree in computer science. I spent one of my semesters doing a research thesis on various blockchain topics, during which I had the chance to visit the IC3-Ethereum Crypto Boot Camp at Cornell University. There, I worked with Vlad Zamfir on CBC Casper, who offered me a longer-term collaboration on the same project.

After my graduation in 2019, I converted this opportunity into a full-time role. More recently in Feb 2020, I shifted to the Eth2.0 research team, where I now focus on consensus, sharding, and proof-of-stake research.

My current main roles are:

  • Consensus research (performance improvements, fixes for attacks, etc.)
  • Interfacing with formal verification teams
  • Leading the weak subjectivity group with the clients, and general spec maintenance!

After work: I love to bike to a nearby beach, play funky pop songs on the guitar, cook food, and watch TV.

Eth2.0 Phase 0 — A New Chapter has Begun, and What’s Next?

According to Bison Trails’ report, the top 10 deposit addresses accounted for ~43% of the total deposit amount. Will this be a threat to the decentralization of Eth2.0? How does Eth2.0deal with the possibility of collusion?

AA: This is a mild threat to decentralization, but is strictly better than PoW. For example, in PoW, the top 10 miners can collude to re-organize large sections of the chain. In PoS, they will be slashed for any such malicious behavior. The worst a collusion can do is censor blocks & transactions. Nonetheless, there must be a plan to deal with collisions.

I’m working on a document that outlines the response to such an event, which mainly depends upon the ability to do a UASF — User Activated Soft Fork — to impose restrictions on any formed collusion.

The current progress of Eth2.0 research, development, and challenges, and uncertainties

AA: There are no major research challenges — the bulk of the problems were in executing large-scale, decentralized BFT consensus, which has been solved! For a complete guide to the entire R&D roadmap, check out Vitalik’s chart:

(Ethereum R&D roadmap by Vitalik Buterin)

The roadmap is subject to change as the demand from the community changes! If the community really wants a certain feature, then we will consider prioritizing that over the others, depending on the usefulness.

Everything in the “advanced research” section of Vitalik’s chart is in the planning stage and is subject to large changes! The rest is already being worked upon, and large changes are not expected to these items.

The happening transition from PoW to PoS will compromise the benefit of Ethereum miners who have made up a crucial part of the whole ecosystem. Thoughts on the potential PoW fork?

AA: The Eth1 blockchain is going to be around for the next foreseeable future! Rather than Eth2.0, a more urgent change for miners will be EIP-1559, which changes the transaction fee system. That said, miners have a lot of ETH, which they can use for staking! In fact, f2pool (one of the largest mining pools) has many validators on Eth2.

Any feature of Eth2.0 might change in the next few months?

AA: The biggest feature will be the next update — Phase 1. This update will introduce shard chains, where the actual blockchain transactions will happen.

The timeline for this is 10–18 months. But there will be some significant updates before that — light client protocol, fixes for known consensus issues, revised rewards & penalties (maybe).

Estimated time for Eth1 and Eth2 merge? And why is phase 1 being developed independently from others?

AA: This one is a bit tricky — there is no clear timeline for the Eth1 — Eth2.0 merge. The plan has always been to integrate Eth1 into the higher throughput Eth2.0 system, but the implementation details are still a work-in-progress. Phase 0 introduced the beacon chain, which does Proof-of-Stake consensus. Phase 1 will be a continuation of Phase 0 and will introduce shard chains to Eth2.0. Since there was no need to include shard chains in simple beacon chain consensus, it was excluded from Phase 0 to simplify the research and implementation.

Do you guys run your own validators? Could you share your hardware and configuration? Any tips for Eth2 solo stakers?

AA: Haha, some of the Eth2 research team members are running their own validators. Regarding setup — here is Dankrad’s post about his setup.

What’s the most competitive function of Eth2?

AA: Decentralization! Most of the existing PoS blockchains have validators run by only a small group of people.

If you are on an ETH Planet (like Mars) and can only bring 3 things, what would you bring?

AA: Assuming that basic survival utilities are present already, the extras I would take would be: an IPFS node so that all cohabitants of the planet can share their downloads, a Fender Telecaster guitar & amplifier, and potatoes (The Martian reference :P)



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‘Decentralization Is the Most Competitive Function of Eth2.0’: Ethereum Researcher Aditya Asgaonkar | ETHPlanet AMA Ep. 3

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