Two of the most prominent members of the crypto community are behaving badly on the internet today. Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin and Cardano’s Charles Hoskinson are engaged in a heated debate across Reddit and Twitter.
The debate began with the release of Cardano 1.3, as announced by Cardano founder Charles Hoskinson on August 6. After the release of Cardano 1.3, IOHK – the main development team behind Cardano – took a shot at the Ethereum Network.
IOHK, which was founded by Charles Hoskinson, published a blog post comparing the Ethereum’s Network’s Casper and with Cardano’s Ouroboros. Both protocols achieve proof of stake-style consensus in different ways. Cardano’s team feels their protocol is superior, while the Ethereum team understandably disagrees.
This is where the fight began.
After IOHK posted that comparison online, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin took to Reddit to defend Ethereum’s Casper.
Buterin’s argument was simple: Casper is an unknown technology, and there’s no good description of that technology available online. Nobody knows much about the protocol except those actually working on it. This makes all debates about the technology pointless.
On August 9, Hoskinson issued a “rebuttal to Vitalik” on Twitter, claiming that Reddit was “not the proper place to have a debate.”
You can view Hoskinson’s rebuttal here. It covers the differences between the Ethereum protocol and Cardano’s consensus algorithm.
In that rebuttal, Hoskinson came out swinging against Casper, Buterin, and Ethereum – although he admitted they know very little about the Casper protocol itself:
“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 it. Still, from what has been presented about Casper until now, as compared to Ouroboros, we can safely conclude that Casper provides much weaker guarantees in terms of how much stake the adversary needs to control in order to disrupt the protocol. Below, we compare the two protocols along several dimensions; for lack of proper documentation, many properties of Casper have to be assumed to the best of our knowledge.”
In other words, based on what Cardano’s team knows about Casper, they feel it’s an inadequate solution and unlikely to compete with Cardano’s Ouroboros.
The rebuttal goes into significant detail about the perceived differences between Casper and Ouroboros, including why IOHK feels Cardano’s Ouroboros consensus algorithm is superior.
Vitalik Buterin Responds, Saying “This is Pathetic”
Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin was quick to respond to Hoskinson’s rebuttal. In a tweet, Buterin said, “Sorry, Charles, this is pathetic.”
Buterin specifically took issue with the passage we quoted above, where Hoskinson admitted to knowing little about Casper, and admits that there’s no verifiable source of information about Casper available online.
Buterin then linked to a paper titled, “Optimal Selfish Mining Strategies in Bitcoin,” published in 2015. The paper highlighted a flaw in bitcoin’s proof of work incentive system: participants (nodes) can selfishly increase their revenue by selectively withholding blocks.
The drama continues to unfold on Twitter, where the two are arguing across a thread of tweets.
“”Casper requires a ⅔-fraction of deposited stake to be controlled by honest parties. Ouroboros is proven to achieve persistence and liveness under the assumption of honest majority” This completely misses (i) *incentive* properties, (ii) network synchrony assumptions”, explained Buterin on Twitter.
In follow-up tweets, Buterin emphasizes the accountability created by Casper:
“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.”
Vitalik Buterin consolidated all of this information into a post on Reddit. That post is easier to read than the string of tweets. You can view the post here.
“They’re very clearly writing a hit piece, and not genuinely engaging with any of the actual tradeoffs in consensus design or trying to understand Casper, as I tried with Cardano here (notice how that Reddit post still has no answers).”
Hoskinson, of course, feels Reddit is an inappropriate place to have a discussion and prefers to argue over blog posts and Twitter. Hoskinson still hasn’t responded to Buterin’s posts on Reddit, and it seems unlikely he will.
Overall, Buterin is skeptical that Ouroboros is the superior proof of stake consensus algorithm, and Hoskinson is skeptical that Ethereum’s Casper is able to achieve secure consensus. The drama continues to unfold across Twitter and Reddit.