Buterin Blasts Cardano Head Charles Hoskinson, Says Argument is ‘Pathetic’
In a true battle of the crypto titans, Ethereum co-creator Vitalik Buterin and head of IOHK and Cardano Charles Hoskinson got into a war of words over the merits and weaknesses of their competing technologies. After Hoskinson posted a rebuttal to Buterin on Twitter, Buterin claimed that Hoskinson’s argument was “pathetic” and contained lies.
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Ouroboros Vs. Casper
In a blog post entitled “How Does Casper Compare with Ouroboros,” IOHK chief scientist Aggelos Kiayias went over some of the main differences between the incoming Ethereum update to Casper and Cardano’s own consensus algorithm called Ouroboros.
The article, billed as a “response to recent discussions in social media” hosts the argument that Cardano’s Ouroboros version of Proof-of-Stake is superior to the Casper PoS implementation.
In the post, Kiayias argued that a proof-of-stake system needs to have at least two attributes, persistence and liveliness. Persistence is what makes transactions permanent, and livelieness is what makes sure that every node on the network gets the same information and remains synchronized.
Cardano’s chief scientist Kiayias then said that Cardano’s PoS protocol is superior because it provides “mathematically precise purity guarantees satisfied by any execution” and that it allows “precise, quantitative statements about stake bounds and settlement times.” In other words, IOHK and Hoskinson believe that all claims made about Ouroboros are “entirely concrete” and there is nothing left to interpretation: Ouroboros is fully defined and unambigous, as Casper still leaves a lot to the imagination as to how it will work on a highly technical level.
So how does this compare to Casper? The crux from IOHK is that since Casper does not have a complete model, it is “impossible to prove the correctness of any claims about the protocol.” The author also states that “Good design intuition and best effort or just not sufficient when the ledger consensus protocol is supposed to carry assets worth billions.”
As such, the IOHK team are so confident in their design that they said their protocol “provides stake-based finality and it does so with the strongest possible guarantee.” That is something that they allege Casper cannot do, or not yet.
‘Pathetic’ Says Vitalik Buterin
Less than two hours after Hoskinson shared a link to the blog post on his official Twitter, Buterin fired back and called Hoskinson and Kiayias’ post “pathetic.” Specifically, Buterin claims that a number of sections in the article completely miss important protocol properties like incentives and contain “network synchrony assumptions.”
Sorry, Charles, this is pathetic.
> Regarding Casper, we are not aware of any currently published source that sufficiently describes the protocol’s mode of operation nor any provable guarantees about ithttps://t.co/SHKWyUOLqVhttps://t.co/LRujTx4hCf
— Vitalik Non-giver of Ether (@VitalikButerin) August 9, 2018
A few minutes later, Buterin fired off another salvo at Hoskinson. and said that one line of the article was “just a lie” and that the statement could be proven false within the Casper FFG paper on page 4. Charging further, Buterin said “the FFG paper defines safety very clearly” and that “two conflicting checkpoints cannot both be finalized unless >= 1/3 are Byzantine.”
> Casper makes no explicit claims about the network setting it operates in
This is just a lie. Eg. page 4 of the Casper FFG paper: "Plausible liveness means that, regardless of any previous events (e.g., slashing events, ****delayed blocks****, censorship attacks, etc.)"
— Vitalik Non-giver of Ether (@VitalikButerin) August 9, 2018
Buterin ended this fiery response by saying that “the incentive properties of finality, enabled by accountability, are also crucial. Once a Casper block is finalized, you “need 1/3 to *sacrifice their deposits* to reinstate it. With chain-based algos, you don’t have this property.”
The Battle Began on Reddit
This mini war of words finds its roots on the two Reddit threads that were linked to in the article posted on the IOHK website. One thread asked for the differences between Casper and Ouroboros. This post quickly attracted the attention of Buterin, and he left a few comments on where he thinks Ouroboros does not stand up to Casper.
Specifically, Buterin stated that he feels Cardano’s PoS implementation “does not aim to deliver a concept of finality” whereas Casper does. Futher, Buterin claimed that Ouroboros has a high overhead, and that it takes a relatively long time to “get any guarantee of safety, because of the possibility of a sequence of bad proposers.” Lastly, it “depends on a VRF,” whereas Casper does not.
The next day, a thread appeared on the r/Cardano sub Reddit that listed Buterin’s claims against the Ouroboros protocol. In this thread, Buterin appeared once again to defend his position on the two protocols. This is where the fresh debate between Hoskinson and Buterin originated. Hoskinson joined the thread under the Reddit name ethereumcharles and argued that Cardano and the Ouroboros protocol do not need a long time to guarantee safety and that VRFs are far from bad. He also stated that Ouroboros has a stronger Byzantine resistance (1/2 compared to Casper’s 1/3).
In defense of the use of a VRF, Hoskinson had this to say:
“VRFs are bad!? Why exactly? Not following this at all. Even Micali is using them for Algorand. Resistant to the manipulation of randomness is just bizarre. Is he claiming our construction is subject to an attack? If so then provide one. Our RNG method is secure.”
The Battle Rages On
As Cardano is still in its infancy and Casper is still a ways off, it’s quite likely that we will continue to see these kinds of flareups in the community regarding whose protocol is superior.
Indeeds, perhaps these are the first skirmishes in long-term smart-contract platform fragmentation. Having a superior technology may not necessarily mean that one chain will defeat the other in terms of adoption rates. It could take years or even decades until we truly realize the impact that these projects will, or won’t, have on the world.
What’s your take? Where do you stand in the Casper vs. Ouroboros debate? Let us know in the comments below.
Images via Pixabay