Ethereum Serenity Client
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README.md

Lighthouse: an Ethereum Serenity client

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A work-in-progress, open-source implementation of the Serenity Beacon Chain, maintained by Sigma Prime.

The "Serenity" project is also known as "Ethereum 2.0" or "Shasper".

Introduction

This readme is split into two major sections:

If you'd like some background on Sigma Prime, please see the Lighthouse Update #00 blog post or the company website.

Lighthouse Client

Lighthouse is an open-source Ethereum Serenity client that is currently under development. Designed as a Serenity-only client, Lighthouse will not re-implement the existing proof-of-work protocol. Maintaining a forward-focus on Ethereum Serenity ensures that Lighthouse avoids reproducing the high-quality work already undertaken by existing projects. As such, Lighthouse will connect to existing clients, such as Geth or Parity-Ethereum, via RPC to enable present-Ethereum functionality.

Goals

The purpose of this project is to further research and development towards a secure, efficient, and decentralized Ethereum protocol, facilitated by a new open-source Ethereum Serenity client.

In addition to implementing a new client, the project seeks to maintain and improve the Ethereum protocol wherever possible.

Components

The following list describes some of the components actively under development by the team:

  • BLS cryptography: Lighthouse presently use the Apache Milagro cryptography library to create and verify BLS aggregate signatures. BLS signatures are core to Serenity as they allow the signatures of many validators to be compressed into a constant 96 bytes and efficiently verified. The Lighthouse project is presently maintaining its own BLS aggregates library, gratefully forked from @lovesh.
  • DoS-resistant block pre-processing: Processing blocks in proof-of-stake is more resource intensive than proof-of-work. As such, clients need to ensure that bad blocks can be rejected as efficiently as possible. At present, blocks having 10 million ETH staked can be processed in 0.006 seconds, and invalid blocks are rejected even more quickly. See issue #103 on ethereum/beacon_chain. .
  • P2P networking: Serenity will likely use the libp2p framework. Lighthouse aims to work alongside Parity to ensure libp2p-rust is fit-for-purpose.
  • Validator duties : The project involves development of "validator services" for users who wish to stake ETH. To fulfill their duties, validators require a consistent view of the chain and the ability to vote upon blocks from both shard and beacon chains.
  • New serialization formats: Lighthouse is working alongside researchers from the Ethereum Foundation to develop simpleserialize (SSZ), a purpose-built serialization format for sending information across a network. Check out the SSZ implementation and this research on serialization formats for more information.
  • Casper FFG fork-choice: The Casper FFG fork-choice rules allow the chain to select a canonical chain in the case of a fork.
  • Efficient state transition logic: State transition logic governs updates to the validator set as validators log in/out, penalizes/rewards validators, rotates validators across shards, and implements other core tasks.
  • Fuzzing and testing environments: Implementation of lab environments with continuous integration (CI) workflows, providing automated security analysis.

In addition to these components we are also working on database schemas, RPC frameworks, specification development, database optimizations (e.g., bloom-filters), and tons of other interesting stuff (at least we think so).

Contributing

Lighthouse welcomes contributors with open-arms.

Layer-1 infrastructure is a critical component for the ecosystem and relies heavily on contributions from the community. Building Ethereum Serenity is a huge task and we refuse to conduct an inappropriate ICO or charge licensing fees. Instead, we fund development through grants and support from Sigma Prime.

If you would like to learn more about Ethereum Serenity and/or Rust, we are more than happy to on-board you and assign you some tasks. We aim to be as accepting and understanding as possible; we are more than happy to up-skill contributors in exchange for their assistance with the project.

Alternatively, if you are an ETH/Rust veteran, we'd love your input. We're always looking for the best way to implement things and welcome all respectful criticisms.

If you'd like to contribute, try having a look through the open issues (tip: look for the good first issue tag) and ping us on the gitter channel. We need your support!

Running

NOTE: The cryptography libraries used in this implementation are experimental. As such all cryptography is assumed to be insecure.

This code-base is still very much under-development and does not provide any user-facing functionality. For developers and researchers, there are several tests and benchmarks which may be of interest.

A few basic steps are needed to get set up:

  1. Install rustup. It's a toolchain manager for Rust (Linux | macos | Windows). For installation run the below command in your terminal
     $ curl https://sh.rustup.rs -sSf | sh
  1. To configure your current shell run:
     $ source $HOME/.cargo/env
  1. Use the command rustup show to get information about the Rust installation. You should see that the active toolchain is the stable version.
  2. Run rustc --version to check the installation and version of rust.
    • Updates can be performed using rustup update .
  3. Navigate to the working directory.
  4. Run the test by using command cargo test --all . By running, it will pass all the required test cases. If you are doing it for the first time, then you can grab a coffee meantime. Usually, it takes time to build, compile and pass all test cases. If there is no error then, it means everything is working properly and it's time to get hand's dirty. In case, if there is an error, then please raise the issue. We will help you.
  5. As an alternative to, or instead of the above step, you may also run benchmarks by using the command cargo bench --all
Note:

Lighthouse presently runs on Rust stable, however, benchmarks currently require the nightly version.

Engineering Ethos

Lighthouse aims to produce many small easily-tested components, each separated into individual crates wherever possible.

Generally, tests can be kept in the same file, as is typical in Rust. Integration tests should be placed in the tests directory in the crate's root. Particularity large (line-count) tests should be placed into a separate file.

A function is not considered complete until a test exists for it. We produce tests to protect against regression (accidentally breaking things) and to provide examples that help readers of the code base understand how functions should (or should not) be used.

Each pull request is to be reviewed by at least one "core developer" (i.e., someone with write-access to the repository). This helps to ensure bugs are detected, consistency is maintained, and responsibility of errors is dispersed.

Discussion must be respectful and intellectual. Have fun and make jokes, but always respect the limits of other people.

Directory Structure

Here we provide an overview of the directory structure:

  • /beacon_chain: contains logic derived directly from the specification. E.g., shuffling algorithms, state transition logic and structs, block validation, BLS crypto, etc.
  • /lighthouse: contains logic specific to this client implementation. E.g., CLI parsing, RPC end-points, databases, etc.

Contact

The best place for discussion is the sigp/lighthouse gitter. Ping @paulhauner or @AgeManning to get the quickest response.

What is Ethereum Serenity

Ethereum Serenity refers to a new blockchain system currently under development by the Ethereum Foundation and the Ethereum community. The Serenity blockchain consists of 1,025 proof-of-stake blockchains. This includes the "beacon chain" and 1,024 "shard chains".

Ethereum Serenity is also known as "Ethereum 2.0" and "Shasper". We prefer Serenity as it more accurately reflects the established Ethereum roadmap (plus we think it's a nice name).

Beacon Chain

The concept of a beacon chain differs from existing blockchains, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, in that it doesn't process transactions per se. Instead, it maintains a set of bonded (staked) validators and coordinates these to provide services to a static set of sub-blockchains (i.e. shards). Each of these shard blockchains processes normal transactions (e.g. "Transfer 5 ETH from A to B") in parallel whilst deferring consensus mechanisms to the beacon chain.

Major services provided by the beacon chain to its shards include the following:

  • A source of entropy, likely using a RANDAO + VDF scheme.
  • Validator management, including:
    • Inducting and ejecting validators.
    • Assigning randomly-shuffled subsets of validators to particular shards.
    • Penalizing and rewarding validators.
  • Proof-of-stake consensus for shard chain blocks.

Shard Chains

Shards are analogous to CPU cores - they're a resource where transactions can execute in series (one-after-another). Presently, Ethereum is single-core and can only fully process one transaction at a time. Sharding allows processing of multiple transactions simultaneously, greatly increasing the per-second transaction capacity of Ethereum.

Each shard uses a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism and shares its validators (stakers) with other shards. The beacon chain rotates validators pseudo-randomly between different shards. Shards will likely be the basis of layer-2 transaction processing schemes, however, that is not in scope of this discussion.

The Proof-of-Work Chain

The present-Ethereum proof-of-work (PoW) chain will host a smart contract that enables accounts to deposit 32 ETH, a BLS public key, and some other parameters, allowing them to become beacon chain validators. Each beacon chain will reference a PoW block hash allowing PoW clients to use the beacon chain as a source of Casper FFG finality, if desired.

It is a requirement that ETH can move freely between shard chains, as well as between Serenity and present-Ethereum blockchains. The exact mechanics of these transfers remain an active topic of research and their details are yet to be confirmed.

Ethereum Serenity Progress

Ethereum Serenity is not fully specified and a working implementation does not yet exist. Some teams have demos available which indicate progress, but do not constitute a complete product. We look forward to providing user functionality once we are ready to provide a minimum-viable user experience.

The work-in-progress Serenity specification lives here in the ethereum/eth2.0-specs repository. The spec is still in a draft phase, however there are several teams basing their Serenity implementations upon it while the Ethereum Foundation research team continue to fill in the gaps. There is active discussion about the specification in the ethereum/sharding gitter channel. A proof-of-concept implementation in Python is available at ethereum/beacon_chain.

Presently, the specification focuses almost exclusively on the beacon chain, as it is the focus of current development efforts. Progress on shard chain specification will soon follow.