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What is Optimism? The Ethereum Layer2 Protocol

Before delving into the specifications of Optimism, it is essential to know the factors that influenced its creation.

Optimism logo
Optimism logo

Ethereum is a blockchain that expands its use to a wide variety of applications, and since its inception, it has grown exponentially. Its native token, ETH, is the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization.


Among the advantages of Ethereum is its support for Smart Contracts, which gives rise to a large ecosystem of decentralized applications (DApps) and decentralized finance platforms (DeFi). However, the transaction fees are often high. Solutions have emerged to make Ethereum more scalable and, within those, Optimism.

What is Optimism?

It is a Layer 2 protocol of Ethereum, considered a scaling solution since it uses "optimistic summaries" to process transactions in batches, which reduces gas fees. You could define it as an aid for Ethereum users to save on gas fees by accumulating batches of transactions.


But how does Optimism do it? It uses advanced blockchain technology, the "Rollups," which groups many operations into one. A group can contain tens or hundreds of transactions using advanced data compression techniques.


This operation synthesizes multiple transactions bundled into a single transaction, then settles it on another blockchain, which reports back to the main Ethereum blockchain. In this way, it reduces costs and, in turn, speeds up the process.

How Optimistic Rollups (ORs) arise

A sizeable technological structure supports Optimistic Rollups since Optimism has created a network of specific nodes on which it runs the Optimism Virtual Machine (OVM), a derivative of the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).


It is a multi-node infrastructure that forms a decentralized network that interacts like Layer2 of Ethereum and works as an independent but compatible blockchain to the main network, where developers can launch Dapps with better user access. The compatibility is such that you can use Optimism even with Ethereum wallets such as MetaMask.


Optimism posted on their Twitter account on January 31, 2022:

"We've gained a ton from the time we spend designing, building, and operating an optimistic summary. The lessons learned will be synthesized in the next significant milestone of the protocol: what we will now refer to as 'OP 1.0'"

Optimism price and availability



OP is available on the following exchanges.

  • Binance

  • Coinbase

  • KuCoin

  • Bybit

  • Gate.io

  • Huobi

Who are the founders of Optimism?

A foundation of the same name runs Optimism, a nonprofit organization devoted to growing the ecosystem. Like Ethereum, Optimism aims to become fully decentralized and is not profit-oriented. Donations and grants fully fund Optimism Foundation and are committed to producing infrastructure that promotes growth and the sustainability of public goods.

What makes Optimism unique?

This blockchain got designed around four basic principles:

  • Simplicity

  • Pragmatism

  • Sustainability

  • Optimism


Regarding creating a layer two solution for Ethereum, Optimism strives for the least amount of moving parts, using tested Ethereum code and infrastructure. The objectives of Optimism are to keep your code simple and interact directly with pre-existing code bases.


The ecosystem emphasizes pragmatism and is driven by the needs and limitations your team will face in the real world and those of the other users who use it. Optimism aims to gradually implement features like EVM equivalency while allowing for interactive building.

The foundation of Optimism's design methodology is the idea of long-term sustainability and avoiding shortcuts to scalability. It uses optimistic rollups and the Ethereum consensus algorithm to scale the network. User transactions are combined and sent to L1 (Ethereum), while blocks are built and executed on L2 (Optimism). The L2 lacks a mempool, and the transactions are accepted or rejected immediately, ensuring a smooth user experience and security through the Ethereum consensus mechanism.


Transactions are sent to Ethereum without direct proof of validity and can be contested for a certain period (currently seven days). After that, a transaction is considered finished. That is why withdrawals from Optimism to Ethereum take a week to complete.

How is Optimism Network protected?

As a security measure, Optimism uses optimistic summaries. Optimistic Rollups (OR) can record transactions on the second-layer blockchain and stream periodic Merkle roots of transactions to the first-layer blockchain. External validators verify these Merkle roots, which delays the withdrawal of funds from level two running on bullish summaries (usually a week).

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