At the Unitize conference, plenty of opinions emerged about the digital currency and how it should be operated. One such opinion came from the Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin.
Each new block only makes very small alterations to the state, but all of them have to be verified against the entire blockchain, making it a very inefficient process. Stateless clients are the core focus of the Ethereum 1.x initiative, which aims to maintain the existing chain in a usable state. But the research also has important implications for Ethereum 2.0:
“In an Ethereum 2.0 sharding context, stateless clients are basically mandatory because nodes get rapidly reshuffled between different shards.”
Buterin also highlighted that stateless clients are being studied in other blockchains as well, including Bitcoin. Stateless clients rely on cryptographic techniques to only compute state changes and verify them without having to hold the state itself in memory. But the cryptography involved is still imperfect.
Buterin noted that each potential solution has its own problems that require additional research. Ending his presentation, he said:
“There are a bunch of fancy arithmetic techniques that allow us to cut these witness sizes down to the point where the extra data that stainless clients need to download is actually not that much. But still research and still a lot of refinement required, and this is something where we actively welcome more help from the academic research community.”
For the average user, this means that gas prices are likely to remain high for the foreseeable future, unless demand falls to lower levels — or layer two solutions pick up the slack.