Everything You Need to Know about Ethereum Plasma

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    By Amee Mehta
    Aug 1st, 2020

    Ethereum, one of the most popular blockchain protocols and the ultimate enabler to some of the best dApps, is loved by blockchain enthusiasts. Like any other technology, speed and scalability issues have long plagued the ethereum ecosystem. Ethereum plasma is an effort to overcome these challenges. 

    In this post, we are going to discuss the various aspects of Ethereum Plasma.  Once we’ve discussed the basics of how it works, we’ll take a look at its implications on the ethereum ecosystem. Let’s get started: 

    What is the Ethereum Plasma?

    Let’s begin to answer this question by looking at the issue of scalability. Scalability has been one of the biggest concerns for ethereum blockchain for the longest time. This was one of the primary reasons why ethereum could not be adopted on a larger global scale. Because if it was, then the network would face issues with its capacity and speed. Thankfully, the minds working at ethereum have proposed a viable solution to this issue.

    According to Vitalik Buterin and Joseph Poon, who are co-founders of ethereum, ethereum plasma is the solution to the scalability issue. Ethereum plasma refers to the framework that allows the formation of ‘branch’ blockchains. These ‘branch’ blockchains use the main ethereum chain as the arbitration and true layer. And there are many experts who predict that ethereum plasma would be the second-largest fully deployed scaling solution on the ethereum mainnet after the state channels.

    This is why if you are interested in ethereum, then it would be worthwhile to learn what is ethereum plasma. And if you are looking for the answer to this question, then you are in luck as today, we will cover everything that you need to know about ethereum plasma.

    What is Plasma Blockchain?

    As stated above, plasma blockchain or simply plasma is ethereum’s second layer scaling solution. At the time of writing this article, it is still in development. It is also expected to be the second fully deployed scaling solution on the ethereum mainnet after state channels.

    According to experts, plasma can also be referred to as the framework that would allow an individual to create ‘branch’ or ‘child’ blockchains. These branch blockchains will use the main ethereum chain as a trust and arbitration layer.

    In plasma blockchain, these branch chains can also be configured to match with particular use case demands. This is especially true for those that are not feasible on ethereum now. It is also important to note that plasma will better support decentralized applications that primarily forces users to incur high transaction fees. This information should give you a basic idea of what is ethereum plasma.

    Security Considerations in the Plasma Blockchain

    When learning what is ethereum plasma, it is natural to wonder whether it is secure or not. And we won’t lie to you because on a preliminary glance, there are many potential holes that pop up in plasma. These holes make it appear insecure. However, if you look closely, you will realize that plasma leverages ethereum blockchain as an arbitration layer. This is similar to state channels.

    If in case, any malicious party does try to harm a user in some way, one can always revert back to the main ethereum blockchain as a trusted source. This can be done easily as the main ethereum blockchain, and the branch chains are linked together through various ‘root contracts.’ These root contracts are basically smart contracts that contain rules about guiding the branch chains on the main ethereum blockchain. This feature goes to show that ethereum plasma is completely secure.

    How Does Plasma Blockchain Works?

    The primary idea behind the creation of plasma blockchain was to establish a framework of secondary chains. These secondary blockchains would communicate and interact as little as possible with the main chain, which in this case is the ethereum blockchain. This entire framework would work as a blockchain tree where all chains will be arranged hierarchically. This means that all the smaller chains will be created on top of the larger main chain. These smaller chains are referred to as the child or the plasma chains.

    It is important to note at this point that side chains and plasma chains are similar, but they are not the same thing. Plasma chains are different from side chains as they are built through the use of Merkle trees and smart contracts. This enables the creation of an unlimited number of child chains, which essentially is the process of creating smaller copies of the parent ethereum blockchain. More child chains can be created on top of one another, and this would result in more or less a tree-like structure.

    All of this simply points to the fact that every single plasma blockchain will be a customizable smart contract. This smart contract is designed to work in a singular manner to serve various needs. This allows the blockchains to coexist and operate in an independent manner. Further, it is viewed that plasma blockchain should make it possible for companies and businesses to implement scalable solutions in a number of different ways, depending on the specific context and need of the user.

    Hence, it can be said that if plasma blockchain gets successfully developed and implemented into the ethereum network, then the main chain will become congested as each chain will work in different ways towards their specific goals. This will not be related to the goals of the main chain. This means that child or branch chains should be able to reduce the overall workload of the main chain. This is an important section for anybody who wishes to understand the answer to the question of what is ethereum plasma.

    The Implications for Ethereum

    Now, that you have a basic understanding of what is ethereum plasma, the next point of order is to understand what the introduction of ethereum plasma will do to ethereum. The first thing that would happen with the introduction of plasma is that the price for ethereum will shoot through the roof. There has been a lot of speculation regarding this in the crypto markets in recent months. But the main difference is that now individual coin algorithms are big informers of price.

    Ether as of now has potential, but it is still worth less than 10% of one Bitcoin in dollars. This situation would change quickly as ethereum would also pose a big challenge to Bitcoin in terms of smart contracts. This is especially true as there are also many other properties of ethereum that carry much more value than the properties of bitcoin. If you look logically at things, then the only advantage that bitcoin has is that it was introduced first in the market.

    Once the curtain falls and people realize the true worth of ethereum, learn about what is ethereum plasma, and get out of the whole bitcoin came first picture, then it won’t be difficult to understand that ethereum has far more to offer than any other in the crypto market. There are also many other things that are going behind the picture that would further increase the prices for ethereum in the next few months or years. Everybody would want to learn the answer to the question of what is ethereum plasma when all of this happens.

    Rocky Terrain for the Plasma Blockchain

    We have discussed what is ethereum plasma and all the positive changes that it would bring. We have also talked about how secure plasma is irrespective of how things might appear on the first look. But what we haven’t talked about is the possible negative sides of the ethereum plasma.

    One primary limitation of plasma is that it takes longer for users to withdraw funds through ethereum plasma. According to official sources, ethereum plasma users will have to wait for around 7 to 14 days to carry out a transaction. This is vastly different to the fact that transactions in state channels can be done at any time and without any major delay. This can significantly hamper the overall experience for users who don’t have a large number of assets and would not prefer to wait for weeks to access their values.

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