Celestia is the first modular blockchain network that is optimized for ordering transaction data and making it available. It solves the scalability problem of a blockchain without sacrificing decentralization and accomplishes this by separating execution from consensus and addressing data availability challenges through a technology called data availability sampling. In this article, we explore why data availability is crucial, and how Celestia addresses this. (If you're new to Celestia, we've got you covered with a quick rundown of the network in a previous article.)
Before diving into the importance of data availability, it might be helpful to have a little refresher on the basics of how most blockchains work.
Blockchains offer a range of fundamental functions that make them versatile for various applications. These functions are:
Execution: Handling transaction execution and state updates.
Consensus: Establishing agreement on transactions and their order.
Settlement: Resolving disputes and facilitating cross-chain connections.
Data Availability: Proving the publication of transactions on the network.
Monolithic blockchains, like Ethereum or Solana, which encompass all these functions in the same chain have been the dominant model in the blockchain space. However, the widespread adoption of these systems have raised concerns about the lack of specialization and high gas fees during peak usage, as seen with Ethereum, impacting both current and potential users. This issue underscores the need for more scalable, specialized and efficient solutions.
This is where Modular blockchains like Celestia enter.
Unlike other monolithic blockchains, Celestia decouples the data availability layer from the execution layer and focuses only on ordering transactions and their data availability, i.e, they solely work on proving that transactions are published on the network and are available for everyone to see. The execution and settlement of transactions are left to the respective rollup. (As a permissionless network, Celestia uses Proof-of-Stake to secure its own consensus. Like any other Cosmos network, users can help secure the network by delegating their TIA to a validator like Chorus One.)
When you make a transaction, it needs to be confirmed and added to the blockchain for everyone to see. Once the transaction is confirmed, it's put into a "mempool" where it waits for its turn to be added to the blockchain. The full nodes then download this new block, execute/compute every transaction included within this block (including yours), and make sure they are all valid. They check things like whether you have the money you're trying to send and that you're not doing anything sneaky. Full nodes therefore perform the important task of enforcing the blockchain’s rules on validators. This is where things get tricky.
Since full nodes check every transaction to verify they follow the rules of the blockchain, blockchains cannot process more transactions per second without increasing the hardware requirements of running a full node (better hardware = more powerful full nodes = full nodes can check more transactions = bigger blocks containing more transactions are allowed). But if the hardware requirements of running full nodes increased, there would be fewer full nodes and decentralization would suffer because not many people can afford to run them, and that's bad for the blockchain's security. See, the more full nodes we have, the safer the blockchain is because it would make the network more decentralized if the voting powers were well distributed. If there are only a few, we'd have to trust them a lot more, and that's risky because it's more centralized.
Now, here's where ‘data availability’ comes in. It's like making sure the information in the transactions is available for everyone to check. If the people adding new blocks to the blockchain don't share this info in the first place, it's a problem. Full nodes can't do their job of checking things, and we'd have to trust the block creators more. So, data availability is all about keeping things open and transparent to maintain trust and security in the blockchain. It's a key part of how blockchains work and stay safe.
Celestia's primary focus on data availability (DA) enables any rollup to utilize it to solve the data availability issue, while still maintaining its independent execution environment. Due to its modular nature, any language or virtual machine can be used to build on top of Celestia.
Celestia solves the issue by using a technology called ‘data availability sampling’ - a mechanism that allows light nodes to verify data without needing to download the entire block data. Essentially, light nodes perform multiple rounds of random sampling on small portions of block data. As they conduct more rounds of sampling, their confidence in the data's availability progressively grows until it meets a specified threshold. Once this threshold is reached, the block data is considered available and valid.
The key advantage is that as more light nodes participate in this sampling process, the network's capacity to handle data increases. This, in turn, permits the scaling of block sizes without a corresponding increase in the cost of verifying the blockchain. In essence, it's akin to having a larger number of independent verifiers cross-checking the blockchain's integrity,which makes the whole system better and faster.
As a permissionless network, Celestia uses Proof-of-Stake to secure its own consensus. Like any other Cosmos network, users can help secure the network by delegating their TIA to a validator like Chorus One. Check out our guide to stake your TIA with Chorus One using the Keplr wallet.
Celestia is a modular network that makes it easy for builders to launch their own blockchain by focusing solely on data availability. It allows developers to easily deploy blockchains on top of Celestia, as easy as deploying smart contracts. This accessibility empowers individuals to create their own unique rollups and blockchains, serving a multitude of purposes and ensuring scalability for a broader audience. Celestia keeps decentralization top of mind with their architecture, design choices and innovations. In addition, it significantly reduces the cost for builders to deploy their own blockchain while accelerating execution layer research and creativity. We’re excited to watch their ecosystem launch and grow in 2023 and beyond!
Check out their ecosystem
Check out Celestia’s docs to start building on Celestia
About Chorus One
Chorus One is one of the biggest institutional staking providers globally operating infrastructure for 45+ Proof-of-Stake networks including Ethereum, Cosmos, Solana, Avalanche, and Near amongst others. Since 2018, we have been at the forefront of the PoS industry and now offer easy enterprise-grade staking solutions, industry-leading research, and also invest in some of the most cutting-edge protocols through Chorus Ventures.