EIP-1559 Mega Post

EIP-1559 or Ethereum's London hardfork includes significant changes to the gas fees and ETH tokenomics. This is a recollection of AMA panel notes and reading materials on the subject.


Bankless EIP-1559 Expert Panel


KPIs for EIP 1559:

  • Gas used metrics - 1559 introduces up to 2x sized blocks to act as damper for demand shocks. are blocks getting too full? how often does 1559 revert to auction on the tip? can we quantify how often 1559 is pushed in this operation mode?
  • Series of base fees - base fees are multiplicative of gas used in the previous block.
  • how users send txns using wallets, and wallets will depend on oracles to set max fee and priority fee. Find different patterns in how the parameters are set. Backtest how oracles have done

Why is 1559 a better UX for new users?

  • predicting the current/future gas price is hard.
  • wallets depend on oracles to recommend a suitable gas price: gas too high, user is overcharged or gas too low, user txn is not included.
  • when demand of block space is stable over a period of time, recommended gas price can be an average over last period. but this more difficult when gas prices are increasing/anomalous in the last block. gas prices / block space demand is hard to predict. oracles may end up underestimating the current recommended gas price. users will end up resubmitting multiple txns for 1 single swap. in which all txns may end up being processed or failed.
  • additional risk that new users will be helpless in navigating txn submissions, UX is not intuitive.
  • ideal situation with 1559: user txns will be included in the next block with min gas, worst case scenario is still a delay but min gas, and this new UX applicable to a majority of users.

How should devs think about 1559?

  • most changes have been abstracted/taken into account by wallet teams, integrating new RPC endpoints etc.
  • Gas price opcode will return effective gas price of the txn - including base fee that will be deducted, and will be non-zero.
  • contracts that depend on gas price opcode (exception) will not be able to do so. e.g. flashbots generally require that bundles are included with gas price = 0, helps to avoid gas costs if txns are uncled.
  • Additional use-cases for new gas opcodes:
    1. added base fee opcode can be used to price bounty that will be executed on-chain e.g. relayers placing limit-orders on-chain.
    2. market primitives e.g. predictions on base fees (e.g. GAS tokens) can be built.
    3. fraud-proof scaling solutions e.g. rollups, state channels currently provide a static amount of time for fraud proof submissions e.g. optimism ~2 weeks. With base fees, on-chain activity can be analyzed to dynamically adjust for fraud-proof submission periods.
  • Post 1559, legacy gas fees are still supported as max fee per gas or effective fee depending on before/after txn is mined

Why does 1559 work in the interest of miners?

  • Understanding how much of fees will be potentially burned with 1559. Mapping total miner revenue to how much is from MEV and how much is from transfers.
  • a list of transactions included in a block belongs to multiple markets, namely Priority markets: txns require a specific slot to be submitted e.g. arbitrage swaps are preferably ordered first / slot[0] by miners VS regular markets.
  • priority market fees cannot be rationally burned, otherwise incentivizes priority txns to move offchain.
  • All of the MEV extracted on ethereum will not be affected by 1559. an estimated of 30% of fees paid (highly-variable estimate) today are from regular txns which are not specific about ordering.
  • Additionally, miners (ETH-denominated) are incentivized to support best UX on ethereum to maximize value of ETH, dependent on increasing economic activity on ethereum.
  • @barnabe: 1159 addresses pricing inclusion in a block, agnostic to the position of a txn in a block. - does not address the MEV problem, censorship attacks.

Implementing 1559 in other blockchains?

  • demand to transact in bitcoin is not high enough in a longer timeframe to pay for security infrastructure - timely when demand picks up. bitcoin does not have significant MEV problems, most txns are standard.
  • @hasu: recommend chains that have block subsidies to implement 1559. some blocks already implement this.
  • fee-smoothing mechanisms e.g. paying fees into a fund to reimburse activity spikes may be more fitting for bitcoin.

What happens when users send old transaction type after 1559 goes live?

  • bts converts txn into 1559 type transaction and sets legacy gas price = max fee and max priority fee.
  • in 1559, gas fees are refunded as max fee - (base fee + prority fee). legacy txns converted to max fee = max priority fee, resulting in high priority and fees paid to miner. legacy txns will not get a refund as a result.

How is the UX for pending txns after 1559?

  • with 1559, it is still possible to have stuck txns in the event of huge increasing demand, compared to legacy where any increase in demand will cause stuck txns. 1559 should only make this less likely.

Blockchain Resource Pricing

source: ethresear.ch

Understanding Social Costs and Resource Pricing

  • Transactions in a blockchain benefits its sender and introduces social costs to all network participants (to process and upload to chain): bandwidth, compute, storage (archive and state)

  • combined cost function C(W) is sum of individual direct resource costs (operational, equipment) versus cost of attack and social value/utility function of decentralization.

  • Regulation by Price vs Quantity: if the policymaker has information about the social cost function and demand curve for resource, both approaches are equivalent, and vice-versa.
  • Should blockchains have a block size limit, or charge a fee-per-resource unit consumed, or an in-betw base fee + asymptotic-increase fee?
  • Correlation of block gas usge <> uncle rate (% of blocks uncled, does not contribute to chain security) is non-linear
  • benefit curve and a social cost curve using bitcoin blocks per day <> bitcoin txn fees (Elasticity: 0.4-0.7) is difficult to determine in estimating the private benefit curve, likewise in ethereum gas (Elasticity: 1-2) over a short period of days-to-months
  • In a longer term, 3 variables - price of crypto, social cost curve (by number of participants and nodes) and benefit curve are highly correlated by a variable of adoption. such that k% increase in adoption results in k% increase in all 3 factors
  • Fixed fees are not intuitive because most blocks are not fully-used - fees are set at minimal value. Fee are kept artificially stable. In a full blocks event, fees become more volatile, also attributed to adoption.

Auction Theory

  • Current implementation of first price auction is suboptimal, requiring complex and inefficient strategies of the block proposers, with no efficient equilibria.

  • Alternative: kth price auction: buyer bids $x:
    • if min amount $y > $x: txn is not included
    • if min amount $y < $x: buyer only pays $y, instead of paying $x.
  • kth price auctions are not incentive-compaitble for the auctioneer/proposer. given a steep demand curve, proposers are incentivized to fill up the block with dummy txns to forcefully displace low-fee txns. - resultin in loss of revenue from low-fee txns, but profiting by generally raising overall fees.
    • incentivizes profit-sharing via collusion with specific txn senders.

Hybrid Solution improving on kth Price Auctions

Precursor to EIP1559 using a base fee and priority fees

  • An alternative resource pricing/limit rule preferable over a hard limit pricing consists of:
    • constantly in-protocol, adjusting parameter of minimum Fee - which is burned or redistributed to all consensus participants aside from block proposer to prevent side-deal collusions.
    • new weight limit 2x of max hard limit
    • adjust speed parameter between 0 - 2.
    • Setting current block minFee = function of (prev block min fee x ratio of weights from previous-to-2x x adjustment speed)
    • Keeping in mind these parameters will be continuously changed throughout 1559 on mainnet
  • Can we somehow measure in-protocol the social cost of computation and bandwidth? e.g. in POW - but POW is fragile against advancements in hardware, only-once, outsourcable computation. POW, POBandwidth carries a risk of incentivzing centralization around specialized hardware.
Pricing Storage
  • Pricing state storage is less complex - state storage is stored by all full nodes forever.
  • Suboptimal storage pricing outcomes:
    • Storage is too cheap
    • Social cost of storage is more linear than compute and bandwidth
    • insufficient incentive to clear storage - costs more money to clear storage than keep state
    • no incentive to clear storage sooner than later
  • Solutions:
    • making storage more expensive - but is prohibitive for short-term usages
    • time-based refund to incentivize earlier learing - capital inefficient, requireing large depositis to use strorage and assumes social cost of storage will forever decrease
    • time-based storage maintenance fee or rent: using x coins per block per byte.
      • if an account has less coins than amount needed to pay for pokeThreshold, anyone can poke the account and delete it from storage, to claim a fraction of rent.
    • proposal to set maintenance fee to a fixed value of 10E-7 ETH per year - given:
      • linear social cost of storage
      • deferring to dev/UX to determine minimum TTL of storage in advnace
      • improving predictability of cryptocurrency price
      • simplicity
  • Complexities of cleaning storage introduce large rsisks in complex applications. A backstop to prevent negligent failure to pay rent is using a hibernation/waking scheme - accounts behind rent are removed from state, but are not deleted i.e. hibernated.
    • merkle proofs can be submitted to prove account exists, and an instance of hibernation was not already spent to wake the contract to avoid double-waking.
    • when a contract is woken up: it must be filled a min amount of: min interval + poke threshold * size of contract * fee per-block

Paradigm: Miners will accept EIP-1559

src: paradigm.xyz

Changes to mining incentives
  • Miner revenue consists of: 2ETH block subsidy + rewards for uncle blocks + user bid /inclusion fees + MEV from bidding auctions
  • Post 1559 - Block subsidy and MEV revenues are retained but inclusion fees will be burned during non-peak (demand < max gas limit). During congestion (demand > max gas limit), first-price auction rewards are given to miners.
Possible responses to 1559
Scenario 1: Miners maintain old chain without 1559
  • impossible due to built-in difficulty bomb last delayed EIP 3554
  • any 1559 opponents will incur same cost of requiring a hard-fork
Scenario 2: Miners create altcoin with Ethereum legacy state
  • significant opportunity cost of creating new chain value for users, to fund block subsidies, fees and MEV.
  • History of BCH forking BTC state and airdrop new coins to holders
  • Forking Ethereum state is more complicated due to thousands of existing tokens, contracts, applications already built on Ethereum. Tokens on Ethereum are also tokenized assets/collaterals - a fork of these states will be valueless if the value is migrated to 1559 chain
Scenario 3: Miners create altcoin with new state
  • Existing stateless forks of Ethereum: Tron, BSC (retains EVM compatibility, centralized)
  • Resetting distribution of ETH will require a new supply distribution, years of inflation and volatile initial mining incentives
  • Copied distribution of ETH will risk value of forked ETH token being depressed by initial market resulting in valueless mining.
Scenario 4: Miners join 1559 chain and supress 1559
  • Miners adopt new 1559 chain, but set base fee (burnable fees) to 0 by mining blocks that are less than half-full.
  • Game theory/competition between miners - miners that mine full blocks make more overall revenue from fees and increase basefees. The minority (half-block miners) risk a net negative profit (higher input costs than revenue) and loss in hashpower.
  • Full-block miner rewards include extra revenue from congestion fees and MEV, with increasing basefee.
  • Strategy is only feasible if full-block miners are completely eliminated or a 100% consensus in half-block mining.
  • Miner-activated soft forks (MASF) are feasible, but requires a significantly large coalition from mutually-distrusting miners.
  • MASFs will also threaten Ethereum stability, ETH price and in return mining revenue.