Ethereum Foundation R&D Updates

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Quick Take

  • Withdrawal functionality is planned for Q1.
  • Beta release of Fe-Lang planned for Q1.
  • Geth to change state-trie storage model.
  • EOF-focused testnet is planned for January.

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Ethereum Foundation R&D Updates

The Ethereum Foundation (EF) published a roundup of updates from EF-supported research and development teams.

Consensus R&D Team

The EF Research Team is working on enabling withdrawal functionality for the Shanghai upgrade, which is currently scheduled for Q1 2023. The team is also working on proto-danksharding EIP-4844, allowing layer 2s to post and prove large batches of data at a low cost. A KZG ceremony also needs to be conducted as part of the EIP.

The team is also tackling recent issues around MEV, including Proposer Builder Separation (PBS), MEV smoothing, Single Slot Finality (SSF), and Single Secret Leader Election (SSLE). These solutions aim to ensure reliable, fair, and credibly neutral transaction inclusion. They have also been added to Ethereum’s roadmap.

Cryptography Research Team

Ethereum’s Cryptography Research Team is working on a signature scheme that aims to protect Ethereum against quantum computers. The team is also working on scaling via improved aggregation techniques. Although not urgent, quantum computers are set to be capable of breaking certain encryption and public-key cryptography systems.

Fe-Lang Team

The Fe-Lang Team is preparing to release a beta version of its smart contract programming language called Fe. The team is also working on a compiler backend, called Sonatina, which is specialized for smart contracts. Fe aims to improve safety and uses a Pythonic syntax, which should make it a familiar language for Python developers. The language also includes features that resemble Rust.

Geth Team

The Geth Team is working on changing the state-trie storage model in Geth from hash keys to path keys. The state-trie is Ethereum’s core structure of data storage. The change will enable real-time historical state pruning during block processing. The team is also working to fix light clients on the Beacon Chain.

EF Javascript Team

The EF Javascript Team is working on the completion of 5 Ethereum Object Format (EOF) EIPs, which aim to improve the EVM and are set to be included in one of Ethereum’s upcoming upgrades. An early EOF-focused testnet is planned for January, among several other "Community Testnets" planned throughout 2023.

The team is also working on releasing Ethers 6, an update to its ethers.js general-purpose library for interacting with Ethereum. The EF Javascript Team is also in the process of using its Portal Network implementation to serve JSON RPC calls in a decentralized fashion.

Protocol Support Team

Ethereum’s Protocol Support Team plans to launch a governance-minimized version of Protocol Guild, which is a team of contributors funded through donations. It plans to deploy Protocol Guild on both L1 and L2 with extended vesting periods. The Protocol Support Team is also behind the Ethereum Protocol Fellowship, formerly known as the Core Dev Apprenticeship Program.

The fellowship is currently in its third cohort with over 20 participants working on MEV, light clients, account abstraction, and sharding. A fourth cohort is planned to start over the summer of 2023. Contributors to the Ethereum Execution Layer Specification have also joined the Protocol Support team.