Lesson 11 of 20
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11. What is Ethereum Plasma?

Plasma is a layer two solution in the Ethereum ecosystem. Its mission is to solve scalability,  transaction speed, and gas charges on the network. Will Plasma overcome the obstacles it faces? Let’s take a closer look at this topic. 

Plasma – what is it? 

Ethereum Plasma consists primarily of smart contracts and Merkle Trees.  This allows it to create an unlimited number of sidechains, which are only to connect to the main chain when necessary. With this solution, the traffic on the main network will be reduced and the network itself will increase its scalability. 

Imagine a large tree with a huge number of smaller branches. This is how the operation of  Ethereum Plasma can be illustrated in a nutshell. The branches, in this case side chains, are often called child chains. Child chains are also smart contracts. Each of them can act independently and perform different functions, but they can also cooperate with the others.  Their main function is to unlock the main Ethereum chain and increase the speed of transactions on it. 

The solution using Plasma Chains is more efficient than standard sidechains. It increases security and facilitates access. Even when one of the plasma chains is not working,  investors’ funds will still be safe, thanks to the operation of the main chain. This is also a big plus for users, as they will be able to withdraw their funds from the child chain to the main chain at any time with the balance from the last valid block. 

Each Plasma chain will use a block validation mechanism of its choice. It will be based on different consensus workflows

Fraud Proofs 

This is a mechanism that occurs in Ethereum Plasma. Imagine a law enforcement officer who will be looking after security in the Ethereum ecosystem. This is what Fraud Proofs will do. It allows people to report problems occurring on the network, adverse activity, or even suspicious transactions or activity. Depending on the type of report, such a Fraud Proofs message will go to the parent chain or straight to the main chain. 

MapReduce Computations function 

This is a set of functions that facilitates data verification. It significantly increases the efficiency of the entire network. Furthermore, the set of functions offered by MapReduce helps to organise multiple databases. 

Mass Exit Problem 

The Mass Exit Problem will occur when multiple network users decide to close their Plasma  Chain at one point in time. This is obviously a black scenario, but not impossible to occur.  Such a situation could occur, if only as a result of a planned attack on the network. 

Plasma and Sharding 

Ethereum Plasma works closely with the Sharding mechanism. It is also one of the solutions used to increase the capacity of the main network. The main network is divided into partitions  (like the main drive in a computer), which in the cryptocurrency world are called shards. Each  

partition is hosted on a separate server and is given a specific computing task. As a result,  the main blockchain is heavily offloaded and nodes no longer need to verify transactions. 

Plasma vs Raiden

This is another mechanism that Plasma works with. Raiden is a protocol strictly designed for payments. It consists of dozens of payment channels, built on the Ethereum network. Often compared to Bitcoin’s Lightning Network, it offers us superfast and cheap offchain transactions. 

Summary 

Plasma is a layer two solutions that is entirely intended to solve the scalability problem of the  Ethereum network. It operates off the main blockchain and greatly enhances the performance of the entire ecosystem. The tree that Plasma creates improves the performance of the entire network. It relieves it and shifts responsibility from interactions to the child chain. As a result, it is possible to handle more transactions per second.

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