Vitalik Buterin’s greatest regret over building Ethereum

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Update: After this story was published Vitalik Buterin tweeted that he did not regret the delay to the launch of Ethereum, which was in July 2015 (the presale was in 2014). He said he was referring, instead, to its technical deficiencies.

Vitalik Buterin has a deep regret about Ethereum. The 26-year-old blockchain co-founder tweeted today that he believes the platform’s launch was premature. 

The second biggest blockchain by market cap, Ethereum launched to great fanfare in 2014. Buterin has since been honoured for his groundbreaking contribution to decentralization and the digital revolution.

But he revealed today that, had Ethereum launched just 10 months later, the defects that the development team have spent the subsequent years fixing could have been avoided.

Early design decisions, such as using Hex Trees as an internal data structure instead of the more common binary trees, were the main source of regret for Buterin. Another regret was using RLP—Recursive Length Prefix—which is a way to send information over a node. Ethereum developers dislike the format because it’s can’t be optimized, and is therefore inefficient. 

Buterin’s tweet was in response to developer Justin Drake, who had said that Ethereum 2.0—the platform’s long awaiting upgrade—could have been ready over a year ago, had developers followed the easy route to launch. 

“We made Eth2 hard for ourselves,” said Drake, and listed reasons including: the many design iterations the new blockchain had seen, and the number of clients that needed to be accommodated.

“We could have launched a year or two earlier the easy way. It was painful but it was right. Our investments will pay off for decades :),” he said.

Buterin wholeheartedly agreed with Drake, as did many others.

But questions about setbacks with Eth2 have plagued the Ethereum community of late. In response to a question about the launch last week Buterin seemed to confirm an interviewer’s suggestion of a July date, only to backtrack later and say he didn’t hear the July part of the question.  

“Everyone is asking why is Ethereum 2 delayed,” said Ben Edgington, of Teku, an Eth 2.0 client operator. “Delay suggests we missed that date and we’re trying to catch up. A much better question is ‘Why is it taking so long?’ And the reason is it’s complicated and we’re trying to do a really good job of it.”

And when the new platform finally launches—expected to be in the third quarter of the year, you can be sure there won’t be a Hex tree in sight.

Update: After this story was published Vitalik Buterin tweeted that he did not regret the delay to the launch of Ethereum, which was in July 2015 (the presale was in 2014). He said he was referring, instead, to its technical deficiencies.





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