Ethereum has been actively leading the blockchain technology arena concerning research and developments. More and more developments are being made by the organization regarding the issues associated with the blockchain technology in the modern world.
The biggest issue associated with the blockchain framework as of now is its scalability. There is a limit to which the number of transactions can take place over a blockchain network. In order to solve this issue, ethereum made a blog post in January 2018, announcing its scalablity reseach and development subsidy programs. It was stated in the official blog post that:
The Ethereum community, key developers and researchers and others have always recognized scalability as perhaps the single most important key technical challenge that needs to be solved in order for blockchain applications to reach mass adoption. Blockchain scalability is difficult primarily because a typical blockchain design requires every node in the network to process every transaction, which limits the transaction processing capacity of the entire system to the capacity of a single node.
Two main approaches were discussed concerning the solution of the scalability issue. First one was sharding, which involved creating a better base-layer blockchain protocol, and the second approach involved the employment of “off-chain” and “on-chain” transaction protocols.
There are two main paths to improving blockchain scalability. The first (“sharding”) involves creating better-designed base-layer blockchain protocols, which still maintain most of the desired decentralization and security properties of a blockchain that we see in the simple designs available today but only require a small percentage of nodes to see and process every transaction, allowing many more transactions to be processed in parallel at the same time. The second involves creating “layer 2” protocols that send most transactions off-chain and only interact with the underlying blockchain in order to enter and exit from the layer-2 system and in the case of attacks on the system.
After starting the campaign, an appoximate amount of $11M has been granted to almost 52 different projects involved in advancing and improving the ethereum blockchain network as a whole. Multiple plasma and state channel implementations have been funded in this grant. Diverse client research, enhanced developer frameworks and security audits have also benefited from this program. Funds were given to projects which aimed at solving the issue of scalability, security, hackternship etc. A snapshot of the $11M funding given to 52 different projects is given below.
As stated by the organization in its official blog post, “Our funding allocation remains true to the program’s original purpose, awarding nearly $7M to scalability projects. After this, security has been granted almost $2M, #buidl projects (projects that improve user experience) received $1.6M, and DevEx projects (projects that improve developer experience) received $744K. While dollar allocation remains heavily focused on scalability, the number of projects funded are more evenly distributed between categories.”
The program launched by the ethereum foundation is constantly evolving and improving. This time around the organization has also promised timely fund disbursement. In order to provide more and more timely support to the projects improving the ethereum platform, the organization aims at awarding grants on a rolling basis. In order to qualify for this grant the “Ideal applicants come with strong technical knowledge, project roadmap, and show a commitment to fostering collaboration within the ecosystem.”
Wave 3 Grant Finalists
Regarding the issues of scalability, security, usability (developer experience and building for the end user), education and hackternship, following projects have qualified as stated in the blog post:
- StarkWare – $4M with 6K ETH performance-based bounties. Development of standards report and production-quality software for optimized STARK-friendly hash functions and tooling
- Force Move Game Framework – $300K. Force move games state channel framework
- Harmony – $90K. Minimal sharding and random beacon chain
- Kestrel Institute – $400K. Formal verification of cryptographic primitives
- ICE Center at ETH Zurich – $185K. ICE Center research and tooling development
- Pyramid – $30K. Smart contract language
Developer experience (DevEx grant)
- Yakindu IDE – $95K. Eclipse-based IDE
- Solidity Resolver Engine – $50K. Universal API tool
- Etheratom – $45K. Atomized solidity IDE
Building for the end user (#buidl grant)
- DappNode – $250K. Mass full node adoption
- Uniswap – $100k. DEX framework
- Nethermind – $50K. .NET client implementation
- thaEth – $20K. Gnosis Safe UI Design
- Cryptoeconomics.study – $35K. Buidling a textbook and coursework
- Pseudo-randomly selected committees – $10K. Sharding R&D
- Etherlinker – $10K. Unreal Engine 4 API for ethereum
Although scalability is the biggest issue concerning the blockchain network, other critical issue will also be given funding by the ethereum foundation. The initiative taken by the ethereum organization is a brilliant one and will surely help solve the issue linked to blockchain technology in the modern day. Lets see if ethereum is able to make a breakthrough concerning the ultimate issue of scalability in blockchain networks.