Optimism network launches testnet fault-proof system in pursuit of decentralization

OP Labs implemented its modular fault-proof system on the OP Goerli testnet.

OP Labs, the developer of the Optimism network, launched a testnet version of its fault-proof system, according to an Oct. 3 blog post. Once it completes testing, it will allow for “a more decentralized and efficient Superchain,” the post stated. The new system is currently deployed to the Optimism Goerli network.

Optimism Goerli block explorer. Source: Etherscan

Currently, OP Stack-based networks use centralized sequencers to bundle transactions and submit them to Ethereum. Users cannot submit fraud proofs to block the sequencer if it submits incorrect data, creating the possibility of fraudulent transactions being confirmed if an attacker can control it. L2Beat has warned of this risk in its report on Optimism, stating, “users need to trust block Proposer to submit correct L1 state roots.”

OP Stack-based networks like Optimism and Base are intended to be optimistic rollups — a type of layer 2 that relies on Ethereum for its security. In a January 2021 essay, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin argued that optimistic rollups must allow users to submit fraud proofs to block fraudulent withdrawals to Ethereum. Otherwise, they’re not truly decentralized.

In November 2022, Buterin claimed that some rollups could have “training wheels” that keep them temporarily centralized while they work on a fraud-proof system but argued that they should work toward decentralization.

OP Labs claims the new fault-proof system will help fulfill the goal of decentralization for OP Stack networks: “The system is designed to eventually enable secure bridging without central fallback.”

Related: BNB Smart Chain Optimism-powered layer-2 opBNB hits mainnet

In addition, it claimed the new system is modular, allowing each network to develop its own system for preventing fraud. It consists of three separate components: a fault-proof program (FPP), a fault-proof virtual machine (FPVM) and a “dispute game protocol.” Because these three components can be implemented separately, it opens up the possibility for each network to “custom-build a fault proof system.”

According to the post, this will create more diversity in the Optimism Superchain, ultimately making the whole ecosystem more secure. A network could even decide to use zero-knowledge proofs (ZK-proofs) as a type of fraud-proof, the team stated. ZK-proofs are generally utilized in zero-knowledge rollups, but not Optimistic ones.

OP Labs has been trying to build an interconnected web of blockchain networks called the “Superchain.” To accomplish this, it created the OP Stack, a set of software tools that can be used to create custom blockchain networks. Avail network has created “OpEVM” software designed to accomplish the same objective while using Avail as the base layer instead of Ethereum. Polygon’s ZK Supernets and zero-knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machine Hyperchain are other examples of Superchain competitors.

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