There is focus on Tezos on assets. Given intrinsic scaling limitations of blockchains, the regular smart-contract based solutions can’t scale.
Plasma is a layer-2 solution that has been developed on Ethereum. The underlying idea is that an " operator " (which could be the current baker, or an external actor) aggregates transactions and regularly posts commitments to those on Tezos. People can then make claim on assets, which can be refuted by others thanks to the commitments to the transaction history. What allows it to scale is that only claims and commitments to a transaction history are posted on the blockchain.
The content is not fixed yet, and this is part of the reason of this post. There are multiple ways to go about it:
- Simple Smart-Contract. This is the standard solution.
- Amendment to the protocol. Whether it is a new kind of operation of new instructions to Michelson.
The smart-contract approach and the amendment are complementary.
The advantages of doing it through a smart-contract are the following:
- It doesn’t require adding parts to the protocol of Tezos.
- There is no need to wait for the amendment process.
- It is easier to prototype (no need to set-up a whole new test-chain).
The benefits of using an amendment instead of a Smart-Contract based approach are the following:
- It is much more gas efficient and clear than some Michelson code.
- It yields a focal point as a way to avoid competition between implementations .
- It enables much more advanced consensus features for the operator (based on the current baker, for instance). This is especially important with regard to resistance to censorship.
This suggests a natural complementary relationship, where the smart-contract are used to prototype new systems, and where once they are battle-tested and studied in depth, can then be integrated into the protocol.
Plan for Plasma on Tezos
Because of this, a plan for Plasma in Tezos might be:
- Implementing Plasma for assets on the base layer
- Implementing more recent and more powerful Plasma flavors (such as the OVM) through Smart-Contracts
- Once such flavors are more understood and formalized, moving them back to the base layer
It is important to notice that if there is any problem with the base layer implementation (misaligned incentives, for instance), it is possible to simply use the smart-contracts while it is being fixed or even deleted. Even though using the smart-contracts be less efficient, it precludes long discontinuities of service.
Assets in the base layer
Currently, I’m adding Plasma on the base layer through new operations. For a number of reasons, it seems better to use Michelson instructions instead, but there are some added complexities that makes it harder as a prototype. I’d gladly discuss those here if there are expressions of interest.
I will push to a branch once I have working tests, the way I did it with views.
CEL is working on implementing the OVM with LIGO smart-contracts. They have extensive experience with Plasma, as can be witnessed by their work on their Github repository. The biggest benefit of supporting the OVM is where we will soon be able to use many other L2 construction such as State Channel and Optimistic Rollup as soon as their implementation is released. And so we don’t need duplicated work for them. The LIGO team is helping them for LIGO and Tezos matters.