Starknet, the Ethereum layer-2 scaling network, is set on enhancing the decentralization of crucial components within its zero-knowledge (ZK) proof rollup solution. In an interview, Starknet’s product manager and blockchain researcher, Ilia Volokh, shared insights into the company’s strategy to address centralization concerns and fortify its system against censorship.

The Current Landscape

Starknet operates as a validity rollup utilizing ZK-proof technology to bundle transactions, ensuring security and finality for layer-2 transactions. Despite its innovative approach, certain aspects of Starknet’s protocol rely on StarkWare for key functions, such as creating L2 blocks, computing proofs, and initiating layer-1 state updates to the Ethereum blockchain.

Centralization Challenges, Misbehavior and Decentralization

While acknowledging the temporary nature of this centralization, Volokh highlighted that StarkWare’s role as a “centralized gateway” poses challenges. However, he emphasized the honesty of the protocol, ensuring it cannot falsify transactions or information due to Ethereum’s layer-1 blockchain acting as a safeguard.

Starknet’s vulnerability lies in the potential for idleness or selective censorship by the sequencer. Volokh explained,

“If the sequencer decides to exclude a transaction from a particular entity, they’re free to do so. As long as the other things they promote are valid.”

This prompts Starknet to decentralize its protocol to combat intentional censorship and enhance robustness against system failures.

The Path to Decentralization

Decentralizing different components of Starknet’s system involves overcoming various challenges. This includes decentralizing block production, the proving layer responsible for computing proofs, and the process of L1 state updates. Volokh stressed the necessity of decentralizing each component to achieve true decentralization.

While decentralizing block production has been relatively straightforward, Starknet’s prover requires a novel approach. Volokh asserted that they are pioneers in presenting a concrete solution, distinguishing Starknet from other ZK-rollups that maintain central entities for block creation and proofing. Addressing concerns about philosophical implications, Volokh noted that decentralization aligns with values of security.

The Road Ahead

Starknet is actively working on outlining and implementing decentralized mechanics in its network. The process will involve interconnected testnets to test the simultaneous functionality of different components, ensuring a seamless transition towards a more decentralized Ethereum L2 scaling network.

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