Metropolis is a part of a long-term ambitious plan to move the protocol toward the so-called abstraction.

Vitalik Buterin has announced in the recent blog post the successful completion of final steps in the two-hard-fork solution to the recent Ethereum denial of service attacks that slowed down the network in September and October. As the network returns to normal operation, gas limits are being increased to 4 million. Buterin unveiled that they expect to increase the limits even more as soon as additional optimizations to clients are finished to allow quicker reading of state data.

Ethereum team has taken a long journey with its victories including improvements to Solidity tools, the release of the Geth light client, and the Parity, EthereumJ and other external development teams continuing promoting their own technologies such as Parity’s warp sync. Besides, much work, invisible at first sight, has been done. It concerns mostly the research side where the progress has rather blue-sky nature as well as low-level protocol improvements that need time to impact the main Ethereum network. Buterin underlined that this work will start paying off very soon.

Now, Ethereum team will focus its efforts on Metropolis, the next major planned hardfork. According to the announcement, Metropolis will include a number of improvements that are rather small separately while more substantial altogether. The list of major improvements looks as follows:

  • EIP 86 (account security abstraction) – move the logic for verifying signatures and nonces into contracts, which will allow developers testing new signature schemes, privacy-preserving technologies and modifications to parts of the protocol without requiring further hard forks or support at the protocol level. Also allows contracts to pay for gas;
  • EIP 96 (blockhash and state root changes) – simplifies the protocol and client implementations while enables upgrades to light client and fast-syncing protocols to make them more reliable and secure;
  • Precompiled/native contracts for elliptic curve operations and big integer arithmetic, providing efficient implementation of applications based on ring signatures or RSA cryptography;
  • Other various improvements aimed at improvement of transaction processing.

Vitalik Buterin shares that much of the work done is a part of a long-term ambitious plan to move the protocol toward the so-called abstraction.

“Essentially, instead of having complex protocol rules governing contract creation, transaction validation, mining and various other aspects of the system’s behavior, we try to put as much of the Ethereum protocol’s logic as possible into the EVM itself, and have protocol logic simply be a set of contracts”, he said. “This reduces client complexity, reduces the long-run risk of consensus failures, and makes hard forks easier and safer – potentially, a hard fork could be specified simply as a config file that changes the code of a few contracts.”

In October, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. announced that it is developing a private blockchain-based transactions platform based on the code behind the Ethereum network. The platform called Quorum will enable the multinational banking company located in New York to use a publicly available system for confidential transactions. This includes the ability to provide access to transactions across a network to only those people who need to know the details of the actual transaction, such as those involved in the transaction itself, or even regulators.

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