Joachim Neu, Stanford PhD student and researcher in a Web3 behemoth Paradigm, shares his thoughts on why data availability verification is crucial for modern blockchains — and how this challenge should be addressed.
Data availability is Holy Grail for blockchains, Paradigm researcher says
In a detailed post, Mr. Neu discusses data availability as an essential feature of modern blockchain systems. Random sampling for data availability verification, a concept proposed by Mustafa Al-Bassam, Alberto Sonnino and Vitalik Buterin in 2018, is among the productive approaches to this issue.
Data availability (DA) is critical for blockchains and rollups.— Joachim Neu (@jneu_net) August 26, 2022
DA sampling is a deceptively simple and elegant proposed solution.
But actually, a lot of R&D challenges still need to be figured out! 🧵👇https://t.co/xNN3T1kYUK
In a nutshell, every blockchain platform should find a way to check whether its data is available and avoid spending too many resources for this operation.
Erasure correcting Reed-Solomon codes is a perspective design to address these needs. They allow to verify the integrity of data without checking its every unit.
This design works not unlike a researcher that comes into a dark room with a low-battery flashlight. They can only see parts of information on a "bulletin board" in the room to check its availability and validity.
How to check data availability in resource-efficient manner
However, this design comes with an array of its own challenges. For instance, the researcher needs to be sure who actually "wrote" the words on the board.
Then, the researcher should check the validity of the encryption utilized; many proof systems attempt to address this goal. Also, the "researcher" needs to be sure about the nature of the system they try to validate:
"What" and "where" is the bulletin board? How does the proposer "write" to it?
Random sampling described by Buterin et al. in the abovementioned paper should be referred to as the most productive way to check data availability in terms of practical use.