How can the development path centered around application chains avoid the pitfalls of Polkadot and Cosmos?

How can app chain development avoid issues faced by Polkadot and Cosmos?

Extension roadmaps centered around application chains seem to be increasingly popular in L1, but many ecosystems seem to underestimate the relevant trade-offs involved. Cryptocurrency researcher Myles O’Neil takes stock of design choices and related trade-offs in the first generation of application chain design processes based on the history of Polkadot and Cosmos, hoping that later projects can leverage the advantage of being latecomers.

Almost every L1 is turning towards an extension roadmap that revolves around application chains. However, there is an increasingly common disconnect between the abilities that the project is marketed for, the proposed solutions to fulfill these promises, and the practical trade-offs in the solutions that have been put into production. The shared security of Polkadot is theoretically good, but expecting an L1 like Ethereum to build it into the protocol is not realistic. The sovereignty and IBC of Cosmos are also good, but we don’t want our chains and interoperability channels to be protected by their native tokens. Instead, we hope that L1 can play an important role and accumulate significant value for tokens so that it can continue to serve as a scheduling point for consistency and coordination.

We will have multiple base layers (such as the OP mainnet and Starknet) as message-passing centers to achieve composability, and then let application chains use base layer tokens to ensure security, drive demand and accumulate value through cost/revenue sharing. This sounds like a lightweight version of Polkadot’s security model (such as heavy staking) combined with Cosmos Hub elements.

Based on the history of Polkadot and Cosmos, there may be two problems in future development: 1) recruiting high-quality sorter operators and guiding staking to ensure its security is very expensive; 2) these applications require atomic composability or at least ensure that cross-chain transactions are included. The solution is to let the base layer handle standard transactions with different block processing standards in the valuation set, and let a third-party shared sorter network handle cross-chain transactions. Both can sort transactions at a low cost by restricting roles. In addition, application chains hope that their sorters are state-aware to optimize blocks and perform MEV transactions, and ensure the validity of the transactions included. However, state-aware sorters are much more expensive and seem to be unable to exceed the scale of 10-20 chains, which is the problem faced by the Cosmos Hub consumption chain.


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