Optimism is a generalized optimistic-rollup that settles to Ethereum. Like Arbitrum, the network provides users with the security of Layer 1 Ethereum along with fast semi-confirmations and reduced transaction fees.
- Based in:
- Aka The OΞ protocol
- Founded in: 2019
- Mainnet release: fully permissionless release was on 17-12-2021.
- From EthHub #97 (21-1-2020):
"Optimism is a Public Benefit Corporation dedicated to scaling Ethereum in a way that enshrines fair access to public goods."
"Optimism is an Ethereum layer-2 scaling solution that uses Optimistic Rollups to process many transactions off-chain while retaining the L1 security guarantees of Ethereum. Importantly, it also separates the roles of transaction ordering, and block validation into two distinct parties."
- Formerly known as Plasma Group — a nonprofit researching Ethereum scalability, managed to raise $3.5m and transition to a for-profit startup under the name Optimism.
- From Deribit Insights (8-7-2021):
"In mid 2017, Vitalik Buterin and Joseph Poon co-authored a paper proposing Plasma, an early scaling solution for Ethereum. A group of core Ethereum researchers took up the mantle and formed a non-profit research group to build out the vision. Development stalled in late 2019, as some critical design limitations of Plasma became apparent. Undeterred, three of Plasma’s lead researchers—Karl Floersch, Jinglan Wang, and Ben Jones—decided to pivot toward what seemed to be Plasma’s natural successor, the Optimistic Rollup. They formed Optimism PBC in early 2020."
Audits & Exploits
- Bug bounty program can be found [insert here].
- From L2beat (13-10-2022):
"Funds can be stolen if…
- an invalid state root is submitted to the system (CRITICAL),
- a contract receives a malicious code upgrade. There is no delay on code upgrades (CRITICAL).
Funds can be frozen if…
- the centralized validator goes down. Users cannot produce blocks themselves and exiting the system requires new block production (CRITICAL).
MEV can be extracted if…
- the operator exploits their centralized position and frontruns user transactions."
- The OP core team and Wintermute had a 20m OP exploit when using old (9-6-2022) Gnosis Safe code while having multichain deployments. 17m got returned and 1m got sent to Vitalik (10-6-2022) 2m was kept by the hacker 'as a bounty':
"Optimism hired crypto market maker Wintermute to distribute the tokens in a highly anticipated airdrop. But because Optimism sent them to a Wintermute layer-1 address that hadn't yet been synced to layer-2, they were all inaccessible. Wintermute said that the tokens would be secure. But within a day, a hacker stole all 20 million tokens. They were worth $35 million at the time. The address has returned a majority of the OP, and @wintermute_t has committed to reimbursing the Optimism Foundation for the remaining 2mm OP, which was kept as a bounty."
- From Blockthreat (18-2-2022):
"Optimism patched a critical money printing vulnerability after it was responsibly disclosed by Saurik."
"The system has a centralized sequencer. Fraud proof system is currently under development. Users need to trust block Proposer to submit correct L1 state roots. While proposing blocks is open to anyone the system employs a privileged sequencer that has priority for submitting transaction batches and ordering transactions. Because the state of the system is based on transactions submitted on-chain and anyone can submit their transactions there it allows the users to circumvent censorship by interacting with the smart contract directly.
The system uses the following set of permissioned addresses:
- Optimism MultiSig 0x9BA6…6b3A (MultiSig) This address is the owner of the following contracts: OVM_L1CrossDomainMessenger, L1StandardBridge, LibAddressManager. This allows it to censor messages or pause message bridge altogether, upgrade bridge implementation potentially gaining access to all funds stored in a bridge and change the sequencer, state root proposer or any other system component (unlimited upgrade power).
- MultiSig participants0x3041…1623 (EOA), 0x3bC4…0AC1 (EOA), 0x4D01…6d15 (EOA), 0x6709…4EAa (EOA), 0x7904…C613 (EOA), 0x7cB0…C54f (EOA), 0x9bbF…31aa (EOA), 0xA902…2c94 (EOA) These addresses are the participants of the 5/8 Optimism MultiSig.
- Sequencer 0x6887…2985 (EOA) Central actor allowed to commit L2 transactions to L1.
- State Root Proposer 0x4733…3A33 (EOA) Central actor to post new L2 state roots to L1."
"The Optimism Collective will be governed co-equally by two houses:
The Citizens’ House;
The Citizens’ House will govern public goods funding, creating a flywheel of protocol development. Citizenship will be conferred as non-transferrable NFTs, and will grow over time with the community. The Citizens’ House will keep the network in check from plutocratic capture.
The Token House; It governs protocol upgrades, project incentives, and more. It drives growth."
- Fully permissionless release was on 17-12-2021.
- From their blog (16-1-2021):
"The most effective security approach for our current needs starts with a layered defense in depth strategy, combined with audits when it makes sense. These layers of defense are centralized, and as we gain confidence in the system they will be removed. Until then, please do not consider this the full and final protocol. While we have dealt with all of the major security issues surfaced through multiple internal reviews of the contracts, as well as consultations with external auditors, we are launching with several additional safeguards.
- Defense Layer #1: Permissioned contract deployment. The most probable way to bypass the core security is through deploying a malicious contract that breaks the OVM’s L2 sandbox. To minimize this risk, we are temporarily maintaining a whitelist of deployers until a later release.
- Defense Layer #2: Authenticated withdrawals. If the first line of defense is breached, then the next risk is invalid withdrawals. To prevent this, we have added a check that allows us to investigate pending withdrawals and stop misbehavior before it hits L1.
- Defense Layer #3: Upgrade keys. The final layer of defense relies on admin keys which can be used to upgrade the contracts in emergencies. We also plan to use these keys on a bi-monthly basis to ship scheduled improvements and new features."
- Has Flipside, StableNode and GFX Labs as sone of their professional delegates (30-11-2022).
- 10% of the Base tx fees will go to the Optimism treasury (2-2023).
- Announced its token after lots of speculation on the 27th of April 2022.
- Will have multiple airdrops. After the first three airdrops, Delphi Digital looked at activity stats (8-9-2022):
40% of eligible addresses never claimed their tokens ~55% of all addresses that claimed the airdrop transferred or sold their OP tokens on the Optimism rollup.
- Whitepaper or docs can be found here.
- Code can be viewed here.
- Built on: Ethereum
- Consensus mechanism:
- Virtual Machine: "Optimism is pursuing the EVM Equivalence model. No changes to smart contracts are required regardless of the language they are written in, i.e. anything deployed on L1 can be deployed on Optimism." (13-10-2022)
- Development language:
- Metis Andromea and Boba are forks of OP.
- Base is a fork of the OP codebase (2-2023), from Delphi Digital:
"The Coinbase and Optimism teams had already been working together for more than a year and contributed heavily to the development of EIP-4844. Also called Proto-Danksharding, EIP-4844 will decrease L2 transaction fees by 10-100x. Coinbase is now a core contributor to the OP Stack as well, joining as the second core project team. This furthers Optimism’s vision of being a super-chain, where the OP codebase is continuously forked to create new chains that are optimized for different use cases. These new chains, such as Base, will have seamless interoperability with one another since they all use the OP Stack."
10% of the Base tx fees will go to the Optimism treasury.
How it works
"Optimism uses what are called optimistic rollups. What a rollup does is “roll up” what amounts to hundreds of Ethereum transactions. This bundle of transactions is represented by a single transaction on the Ethereum mainnet. By doing this, it ends up that there is only one transaction’s worth of gas fees.
When using an optimistic roll up, a network’s transactions are taken to be correct until they are proven false. In other words, the transactions are published to Ethereum without direct proof of validity- as the network is “optimistic” about them- and are instead regarded as pending. Transactions can be challenged as invalid by submitting a “fraud proof” within what is a 7-day challenge window. After the seven day challenge window closes, the transactions go through, and are recorded on the Ethereum chain."
"All executed transactions are submitted to an on chain smart contract. The execution of the rollup is based entirely on the submitted transactions, so anyone monitoring the contract can know the correct state of the rollup chain."
"With the Nov 2021 upgrade to "EVM equivalent" OVM 2.0 old fraud proof system has been disabled while the new fraud-proof system is being built."
- Removed the whitelist (11-2021). However, on 18-12-2021 it was claimed that Optimism finally was fully permissionless.
- From EthHub #133 (28-9-2020):
"Optimism released their Optimistic Rollup testnet last week with Synthetix as a launch partner. They also detailed the testnet rollout plans and the path towards mainnet."
Optimism & MEVA
"Importantly, the Optimism system enables the capture and repurposing of MEV. In the Optimism L2 system, the roles that miners have (to order transactions and validate blocks) is divided into two separate actors: Sequencers order transactions and Validators add them to the Optimism L2 blockchain.
The right to become a sequencer is then auctioned off to the free market. This is called MEVA, or MEV Auctions, where the right to be able to capture MEV is repeatedly auctioned off for baskets of time.
Note: The specific designs around how a MEV Auction works in practice is still under construction, but the general idea is that there are different ways to extract and focus MEV with a free-market auction mechanism. As Optimism gets rolled out to more and more DeFi apps, the data will come in about how to best construct a MEVA.
Just as frontrunners attempted to outbid each other’s transactions to capture MEV, those who wish to capture MEVA are forced to bid for the right to sequence transactions, and ultimately hands this value off to the auctioneer. That auctioneer is Optimism, and the Optimism team intends to enable the redirecting of this captured value to parties that were never going to be able to access it in the first place, but arguably should have: The developers who built the contracts in the first place!
If there’s a group of average retail market participants who are using a Public Good like Uniswap, then there is therefore MEV. If there is MEV, there are bids to sequence the transaction. If there are bids to sequence the transactions, then there are MEVAs where the value is converged.
But this entire chain of economic activity is a result of some developer that built the contracts being transacted on in the first place… and nowhere in this economic chain is the developer being compensated or rewarded for their work. Optimism and MEVA fixes this, offering a potential business model for smart-contract developers."
- DIA oracle got deployed (27-10-2022).
- UMA optimistic oracle went live (5-2-2022).
- Chainlink price feeds are now live on the Optimistic Ethereum network (1-9-2021).
- From their announcement (6-5-2020):
"Synthetix and Optimism are extremely excited to announce a new demo of Synthetix.Exchange on OVM (Optimistic Virtual Machine), a Layer 2 (L2) scaling solution. This integration demonstrates the power of OVM to deliver high-speed Ethereum transactions to supercharge the Synthetix trading experience.
Optimism built the OVM to scale Ethereum on L2, a scaling layer intended to work with Ethereum L1 to allow vastly more transactions to be executed without security tradeoffs. The Optimism team has previously launched a demo with Uniswap at Devcon V in October 2019, which used a custom OVM. This new demo showcases a general alpha version of the OVM requiring no custom code, ahead of a launch later this year."
- From Daily Gwei (25-9-2020): "They have plans to work with Uniswap and Chainlink to bring their services to layer 2."
- Can be found [Insert link here].
- Optimism delayed the Bedrock upgrade vote to resolve issues from bounty contest (18-2-2023).
- Working on Bedrock (1-2023):
"Bedrock is Optimism’s custom rollup architecture, building on their already impressive EVM-equivalent chain. Bedrock introduces features that reduce deposit times from 10 minutes to 2.5 (4x improvement) and reduces the cost of data submission to L1s by ~20% (this is on top of any cost enhancements that arise from EIP-4844). It has cut the difference between Bedrock execution layer client and Geth down to merely 500 lines of code. On the 12th January OP Labs successfully completed an upgrade of Optimism’s Goerli Testnet to Bedrock."
- From their 2020 year-end article (1-1-2021):
"Two weeks ago, we froze our code in order to prepare for a preliminary mainnet trial run with Synthetix. This means we are in the final legs of taking our first users through the entire product lifecycle: from the initial stage of converting contracts to the OVM, to deploying onto mainnet.
We will be holding upgrade keys for awhile (at least the first 6 months) to ensure the safety of user funds. Until we relinquish those keys, please do not consider this the full and final system."
- From The Defiant (26-1-2023):
"Daily transactions on Optimism are down almost 75% since hitting an all-time high on Jan. 12. The drop in daily transactions coincides with the end of Optimism’s Quests program. The first series of quests began in September and ended on Jan. 17.
“Just by reading about different apps and completing a short quiz and task, users will be able to mint a commemorative NFT that represents the completion of the respective quest,” a guide on Optimism’s website reads. Self-proclaimed DeFi analyst DeFyist noted that Quest users were likely hoping their interaction would qualify them for Optimism’s second airdrop, which has yet to be announced.
Even as the number of transactions on Optimism’s main competitor, Arbitrum, fell through the final two months of 2022, those on Optimism soared. Daily transactions on Optimism hit an all-time high of 800,000 on Jan. 12. The seven-day moving average peaked five days later at more than 690,000. By every available metric, however, usage of the platform has since fallen off a cliff."
"Uniswap V3 on Optimism has over $4.25 million in TVL, and is doing over $1.75 million in volume in under 48 hours!"
Projects that use or built on it
- BadgerDAO; planning to deploy (17-3-2021)
- Coinbase Wallet is integrating with Optimism’s Optimistic Rollup testnet (14-10-2020).
- Rubicon (10-2021)
- Thales (2-2022).
- Uniswap, Maker, Synthetix, Chainlink, Rari Capital (11-3-2021)
- Other L2 solutions like Arbitrum.
- From Deribit Insights (8-7-2021):
"The simplest way to describe the difference is that Optimism’s dispute resolution relies more heavily on the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) than Arbitrum’s. When someone submits a challenge on Optimism, the entire transaction in question is run through the EVM. By contrast, Arbitrum uses an offchain dispute resolution process to whittle down the dispute to a single step within a transaction. The protocol then sends this single step assertion, as opposed to the entire transaction, to the EVM for final verification. Conceptually, Optimism’s dispute resolution process is thus considerably simpler than Arbitrum’s. Optimism’s approach to dispute resolution—i.e. running entire transactions through the EVM—is not just conceptually simpler: it’s quicker too. There aren’t “multiple rounds” of back and forth, as there are in Arbitrum’s process. In fact, for this reason, Optimism’s rollups are often called “single round” whereas Arbitrum’s are “multi round.” Practically speaking, this means that in the case of a disputed transaction, final confirmation on Ethereum is delayed in Arbitrum’s case longer than it is in Optimism’s case.
On the flip side, the advantage of Arbitrum’s dispute resolution is that it is cheaper in terms of onchain (i.e. on Ethereum) transaction costs. The bite-sized chunk of code that the EVM eventually processes after the completion of the back-and-forth dispute resolution process requires much less gas (in most cases) than it does to re-process the entire transaction onchain. Arbitrum should be more gas efficient than Optimism—and therefore cheaper for users—not only in the rare case of a dispute, but also in the predominant “happy” case."
- From this thread (22-5-2021):
"The biggest distinction is what happens when two parties disagree on the state after executing a tx ie. implementation of the fraud proof (FP) mechanism. Optimism uses single round fraud proofs. This means that L1 executes the whole L2 transaction on-chain to verify the state root. This makes FPs instant which is nice. But there are some problems too:
• you need to supervise tx execution hence need for OVM (aka rewriting EVM to avoid sideeffects) • L2 tx gas is bound by L1 block gas limit • you need on-chain state roots after each TX - costs more :( • source of potential security issues
Arbitrum features multi-round fraud proofs. You can dumb it down to doing a binary search between two parties to find the first opcode of a whole block that they disagree on. Once found only this particular opcode is executed on-chain. It has some nice properties:
• it requires posting on-chain just one state proof for a whole bunch of txs, • L1 block gas limit doesn't matter since L2 txs will never entirely execute on L1
Drawbacks: • It requires EVM -> AVM translation (thankfully it's automatic) • it's slow - in the worst case it takes up to 2 weeks to finish FP. Realistically it's 1 week. • requires original claimer to be online and cooperative
Optimism's approach has one *HUGE* drawback. Imagine that there is a hardfork and Ethereum consensus rules change. One of the opcodes is removed/repriced or modified in some other way. Suddenly re-executing past tx on L1 will result in a different final state. Arbitrum fully controls AVM specs and doesn't have this problem.
Optimism requires a special solidity compiler to generate OVM bytecode. So, unfortunately, it works only with Solidity and only with particular versions of solidity. On the other hand, their L2 node is just modified geth which is great for compatibility.
Arbitrum on the surface is fully compatible with EVM/JSON RPC spec but their node is a custom implementation. It does automatic EVM→ AVM transpilation to support fraud proofs. Thanks to this low-level translation, it supports any EVM language (vyper, YUL+ etc).
Optimism uses weth but Arbtirum has native eth support. Optimism launches with wallet abstraction built in too. Arbitrum launches with a unified permissionless bridge to bridge any tokens to L2 (it deploys generic ERC20 as a L2 counterpart). Optimism prefers dedicated bridges but of course, deploying "unibridge" on optimism is possible as well."
Pros and Cons
"Joseph Delong said he believed Optimism favored Uniswap because of influence from the investors Andreesen Horowitz (a16z) and Paradigm. Both funds have made investments in Uniswap and Optimism, as well many other leading crypto projects. According to Delong, the two VCs may have “colluded” to influence and benefit their vested projects."
Team, Funding, Partners
- Full team can be found [here].
- Eva Beylin, previously worked with them
- From DeFi Weekly (9-3-2021): "The team that Optimism has rallied is pretty incredible if you dig deeper."
- Has Flipside, StableNode and GFX Labs as sone of their professional delegates (30-11-2022).
- Coinbase is a core contributor to the OP Stack as well, joining as the second core project team (2-2023).
- Ryan Sean Adams and David Hoffman; disclosed themselves to be an advisor (28-4-2023)
- "They’ve raised (21-1-2020) $3.5 million from Paradigm and CoLab Ventures to focus on Optimistic Rollup research and development."
- Does funding (1-2020) and was one of the earliest believers in Plasma Group.
- Is one of the funders (18-10-2020) of Gitcoin Grant round 7 (and possibly continues to do so).
- From Yield Farmer (28-2-2021): "Raises $25M in a Series A funding round led by prolific crypto VC firm a16z."
- Raised $150M led by a16z and Paradigm (17-3-2022).
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