Vitalik Buterin says L2s using Celestia are validiums, not genuine rollups

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Vitalik Buterin says L2s using Celestia are validiums, not genuine rollups
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Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has sparked discussion on how various layer-2 scaling solutions are classified, claiming that the blockchain’s validiums are not genuine rollup solutions.

On Jan. 16, Buterin agreed with a comment posted to X (formerly Twitter) by Daniel Wang, the founder of the Ethereum rollup solution Taiko, who said if an Ethereum rollup uses another data chain for data availability — such as the modular blockchain Celestia — then it’s an Ethereum validium.

“This is correct,” Buterin replied. “The core of being a rollup is the unconditional security guarantee: you can get your assets out even if everyone else colludes against you.”

“You can’t get that if data availability is dependent on an external system,” he added.

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Validium is an Ethereum scaling solution using zero-knowledge proofs to enable off-chain transactions while relying on Ethereum’s mainnet for security and verification.

Unlike zero-knowledge rollups, which batch transactions on a layer-2 network and verify them on a layer 1 like Ethereum, validium networks do not post transaction data to an L1. Instead, validiums post cryptographic proof that transactions are valid, a setup that aims to achieve higher scalability as full transaction data doesn’t need to be stored on-chain.

However, validiums rely on operators to honestly post proofs and can have reduced data availability compared to rollups.

Networks like Celestia use a modular blockchain made up of data availability layers and validation layers — the latter using validiums to enable fast and private transactions.

In a Jan. 16 post on the decentralized social media Warpcast, Buterin shared a diagram proposing an adjustment to some of the terminologies, such as “security-favoring” and “scale-favoring” to “strong” vs. “light” to be “more succinct.”

Buterin’s proposed Ethereum scaling classifications. Source: Warpcast

Related: Polygon co-founder proposes zkEVM ‘validium’ upgrade to improve security

Not all agreed with Buterin’s proposals, including Ethereum community member Ryan Berckmans, who asserted that validiums are layer-2 networks.

“A layer-2 is a chain that settles on Ethereum,” he said. “I’ll die on this hill, and I’ll debate anyone who insists the DA [data availability] has to be on Ethereum for it to be an L2.”

“This is a new industry, we can define ‘L2’ to mean whatever we want,” he continued. “The maximally useful definition of L2 includes both rollups and validiums.”

Contrary to Berckmans’ claims, layer-2 industry analytics platform L2Beat argues that validiums are not L2s.

“Validiums and Optimiums are not L2s: by not publishing data on L1 they introduce additional trust assumptions on top of it.”

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