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What are validiums, and how do they work?

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Validiums, explained

Validiums are a layer-2 scaling solution designed to optimize Ethereum’s performance by processing transactions off-chain. 

Vailidiums are primarily responsible for reducing the load on the Ethereum blockchain by processing the majority of transactions off-chain and only sending concise proofs to the mainnet for verification. The off-chain transaction processing approach significantly boosts throughput and reduces congestion on the main network, resulting in a more efficient and cost-effective Ethereum experience.

With this approach, the security and integrity of transactions are preserved through recurring validity proofs that are verified on-chain, even when most of the data is handled off-chain. By validating the accuracy of the off-chain computations, these proofs ensure that the state transitions follow Ethereum’s guidelines.

Validiums provide considerable scalability and transaction speed improvements by offloading transaction data from the mainnet. This is especially advantageous for high-throughput systems and decentralized apps (DApps)

How validiums work: A step-by-step process

Validiums batch and process transactions off-chain, submitting validity proofs to the Ethereum mainnet for verification.

Validiums operate through a series of steps designed to optimize transaction processing and enhance scalability. These steps include:

Step 1: Transaction submission

Users initiate transactions by submitting them to the validium operator, who is responsible for managing the off-chain transaction processing.

Step 2: Batching and off-chain processing

The operator collects several transactions and organizes them into batches. The processing of these batches is subsequently done off-chain. When compared to processing each transaction separately on the mainnet, this off-chain processing greatly boosts transaction throughput.

Operators are essential for managing validium chains. They are responsible for collecting transactions, batching them together and generating zero-knowledge proofs to validate these batches of transactions. 

Step 3: Proof generation

Zero-knowledge (ZK) proofs are essential to the operation of validiums. The operator generates ZK-proofs following transaction processing. These cryptographic proofs demonstrate that the resulting state transitions follow Ethereum network regulations and that the off-chain calculations were carried out correctly. Crucially, ZK-proofs accomplish this while protecting privacy — i.e., by not disclosing any specifics — about the transactions themselves.

Step 4: Proof verification

The generated ZK-proofs are uploaded to the Ethereum mainnet together with a state commitment, which is a cryptographic representation of the most recent state of the off-chain system. The mainnet smart contract validates the validity of the proofs. By verifying that the off-chain calculations were correct and that the revised state complies with the regulations of the blockchain, this verification procedure ensures the security and finality of the transactions.

How validiums rely on Ethereum’s mainnet for security

Validiums are off-chain transaction processors, but they still rely on the Ethereum mainnet for security. Operator-generated state commitments and ZK-proofs are submitted back to the Ethereum mainnet. This submission ensures the verifiability and security of the off-chain operations. 

Validiums tap into Ethereum’s strong security model by using cryptographic proofs to link these off-chain operations to the mainnet. Combining the advantages of off-chain processing with mainnet security, this integration enables Validiums to achieve great scalability while ensuring the final state and integrity of transactions are safeguarded by the Ethereum blockchain.

What is the difference between volition and validium?

While both validium and volition are layer-2 (L2) scaling solutions for Ethereum, they differ in their approach to data availability. 

Volition offers users the flexibility to choose between off-chain and on-chain data availability for their transactions, providing enhanced security and flexibility at a slightly higher cost. In contrast, validium exclusively stores data off-chain, prioritizing scalability and cost reduction but with a trade-off in terms of slightly reduced security compared to on-chain solutions.

The table below shows the differences between volition and validium:

Rollups vs. validiums

Both validium and rollups are L2 scaling solutions for Ethereum; however, their security protocols and data accessibility differ. 

Rollups provide enhanced security and simplified verification by processing transactions off-chain while storing data on-chain. Validium, on the other hand, optimizes for lower costs and higher scalability while maintaining a slightly lower level of security by keeping data off-chain. Their cost profiles, flexibility and security are impacted by this difference.

The table below shows difference between rollups and validium: 

Benefits of validiums

Validiums are an attractive L2 scaling solution for the Ethereum network and offer several notable advantages, including faster transactions, reduced fees and the potential for enhanced privacy. 

One key benefit is their ability to accelerate transaction processing. By handling transactions off-chain, validiums alleviate the computational load on the Ethereum mainnet, resulting in faster transaction times and improved network efficiency. This feature is particularly valuable for DApps and high-throughput platforms.

Additionally, validiums significantly reduce gas fees. Since most transaction data and computations are processed off-chain, the costs associated with executing transactions are substantially lowered. This cost-effectiveness makes validiums a desirable option for users who frequently interact with the Ethereum network but are concerned about high transaction fees.

Furthermore, validiums offer the potential for enhanced privacy. Because validiums handle data off-chain, transaction details do not need to be publicly disclosed on the Ethereum mainnet. Instead, they are verified using zero-knowledge proofs, which validate transactions without revealing sensitive information. This enhanced privacy is crucial for users and businesses who prioritize confidentiality in their blockchain interactions.

Challenges faced by validium systems

Potential drawbacks of validiums include data availability concerns and centralization risks associated with the operator’s role.

One significant concern is data availability. Since validiums store transaction data off-chain, there is a risk of this data being lost or inaccessible if the off-chain storage solution fails or is compromised. This could hinder the ability to verify transactions and maintain the integrity of the blockchain’s history.

Another potential drawback is the centralization risk associated with the operator. In a validium system, operators play a crucial role in collecting transactions, generating zero-knowledge proofs and submitting state commitments to the Ethereum mainnet. This central role could create a single point of failure if operators act maliciously or fail to perform their duties correctly, potentially compromising the system. Relying on a limited number of operators also concentrates power and trust in the hands of a few entities, which could undermine the decentralized ethos of blockchain technology.

These challenges highlight the importance of implementing robust security measures and risk mitigation strategies for validium systems to ensure they can successfully balance scalability and security while maintaining decentralization and trust.


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