Has the trilemma been solved by new a Polygon-backed layer 1 blockchain?
The trilemma of security, scalability, and decentralization is a problem that plagues blockchain's bid for mass adoption
Partisia is a Layer 1 network claiming to solve the Blockchain Trilemma with ZK privacy, sharding for scalability, and an MPC collateralized bridge.
Unlike other blockchains, the network offers native layer-1 and layer-2 solutions; there is no need for an external third-party project to improve security and scalability.
The Blockchain Trilemma
The trilemma is a phenomenon coined by Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin. The issue arises from blockchain’s inability to offer scalability, decentralization, and security. Buterin claims that current cryptocurrencies deliver, at most, two of these three requirements to a satisfactory standard for mass adoption.
We spoke to Vinson Leow, Chief Ecosystem Officer of Partisia, to discuss the trilemma and how it affects the potential adoption of blockchain technology. Leow explains Partisia’s approach to the trilemma and how it handles each branch,
- Scalability: Extended dynamic scalability with sharding
- Privacy: First integrated language for writing orchestrated ZK computations
- Interoperability: BYOC extended toward a generic framework
Solving the trilemma
It’s important to explain that Partisia considers the trilemma to be scalability, privacy, and interoperability. In comparison, Buterin defined it as security, scalability, and decentralization. Decentralization and scalability often come from interoperability, whereas privacy and security can be seen as interchangeable in some scenarios.
However, it is essential to note that a chain that solves the issue of privacy may still suffer from problems with security in terms of network safety. Therefore. At the same time, Partisia’s definition may be slightly removed from Buterin; it is hard to argue that it is far enough removed to be an invalid response to the trilemma debate.
Leow expanded on Partisia’s approach, saying:
“existing layer 1s inherently fail in the privacy area, so we’ve never seen any be adopted en masse as a permanent solution.”
The Partisia blockchain uses “decentralized multi-party zero-knowledge computations (MPC)” to combat the trilemma.
Polygon backs trilemma solution
The new blockchain has recently announced a partnership with an existing Ethereum layer-2 solution, Polygon. Antoni Martin, Polygon Enterprise Lead, stated that Polygon’s collaboration with Partisia:
“opens up countless new and exciting possibilities for all Polygon developers, providing them with additional tools to fine-tune the privacy and security of their projects.”
The transcript of the interview follows:
Interview with Partisia
Akiba: MPC (multi-party zero-knowledge computations) runs its own layer-1 blockchain; how does bridging to another layer-2 network such as Polygon bring MPC’s features to Polygon?
Leow: MPC is its own layer 1 and 2 blockchains with mainnet launching on 31st May. It’s the world’s first L1+2, so on our L2, any L1 such as Matic can transact on the L2 private smart contract, and the result is registered back on the L1 (in this case, Matic).
Matic will be used as gas for the computation, and the Matic asset can also be used on the MPC chain, but that’s not its core purpose.
Akiba: Can users interact with the MATIC chain from MPC without bridging?
Leow: The MPC tokens would need to be wrapped in MATIC, so no.
Akiba: Can you give an ELI5 explanation of “multi-party zero-knowledge computations.”
Leow: With the current zkrollup privacy technology, only two people can interact at a time, which means the outcome is limited. If Bob and Jane are in a room, we can find out who has more money, but if there are ten people in the room, how can we know how much everyone has, from poorest to richest?
This is impossible with zkrollup. With zk computation, everyone can share their details privately, and we can rank the money of all ten people without disclosing who has which funds or risking their funds being lost.
Akiba: Can we expect other chains to be supported in the future? If so, could Ethereum, Bitcoin, or other top 10 layer 1s be on the horizon?
Yes, Ethereum compatibility will be ready in June. Bitcoin can also be transacted, but the timeline is TBC (To be Confirmed). Cardano support will be ready by Nov. Most EVM compatible chains are similar, so once we have support for ETH and MATIC, other EVMs will be supported.
Akiba: Is the privacy level of current ZKproofs a problem that needs to be solved?
Yes, the current form of zk proof which falls under zk rollup, is broken- because the computation is done on a centralized off-chain solution, regulators do not approve it, and the computation data often can’t be retrieved. This hard to retrieve data is a problem when regulators want to look under the hood. Also, by running side-chain/off-chain, there is a host of other problems shown in the blockchain trilemma.
With zk proof, the outcomes are only binary as its two parties. With zk computation (MPC privacy), there are unlimited applications such as closed orderbooks onchain, logistic companies such as Apple would never use a public blockchain, but now they can run it privately on
Partisia and give access to vendors at different stages. They can protect their supply chain data while using blockchain to their advantage. Data silos are another huge use case such as hospitals that rarely share data even with other hospitals in the same country due to patient confidentiality.
However, they could upload their data to private smart contracts with our technology. The AI could come in and analyze data to identify trends without disclosing the source of the information or private keys.
Akiba: Why are you so excited about MPC, and have you struggled to explain the project’s USP (unique selling point) given its complex basis?
It’s very exciting because Partisia Blockchain is the world’s first Layer 1 + 2 and the world’s first blockchain protocol supporting public and private transactions 100% on-chain and decentralized. This means for the first time in history, a public blockchain can be adopted by public protocols (L1, L2, and dapps), enterprises, and governments.
The USP is certainly a challenging thing to explain, given its complexity. Still, our recent CMO hire, who spent nine years at Paypal and led the GTM strategy for crypto, is working on creating an easy-to-understand narrative.
The future of interoperability
It is indeed a fascinating concept to see a new blockchain emerge with the capability to offer interoperability with well-established chains. Further, having an in-built layer-2 to reduce gas fees and speed up transactions is a novel approach. It appears that Partisia has looked at all aspects of web3 that have received traction, integrated them into its solution, and then made it backward compatible with the existing infrastructure.
The question now arises whether Partisia can achieve the level of utilization required to become a genuine player in the web3 space. Partnerships with organizations such as Polygon are certainly a significant first step. This project could be one to watch in 2022 for investors looking at technological fundamentals.