The Matic network is broadly divided into 3 layers (see figure below):

  1. Staking and Plasma smart contracts on Ethereum
  2. Heimdall (Proof of Stake validation layer)
  3. Bor (Block producer layer)

Staking and Plasma smart contracts on Ethereum

To enable the Proof of Stake mechanism on Matic, the system employs a set of staking management contracts on Ethereum. These implement the following features:

  • The ability for anyone to stake MATIC tokens on the Ethereum smart contract and join the system as a Validator
  • Earn staking rewards for validating state transitions on Matic Network
  • Enable penalties/slashing for activities such as double signing, validator downtime, etc.
  • Save checkpoints (aka snapshots of the Bor sidechain) in the Ethereum smart contract

The PoS mechanism also acts as a mitigation to the data unavailability problem for the Matic sidechains in terms of Plasma.

The Plasma contracts implement the MoreVP Plasma framework. Here is an overview of the Matic MoreVP implementation -

Heimdall (Validation Layer)

Heimdall layer handles the aggregation of blocks produced by Bor into a Merkle tree and publishing the Merkle root periodically to the root chain. The periodic publishing of snapshots of the Bor sidechain are called ‘checkpoints’.

For every few blocks on Bor, a validator (on the Heimdall layer):

  1. Validates all the blocks since the last checkpoint
  2. Creates a merkle tree of the block hashes
  3. Publishes the merkle root hash to the Ethereum smart contract

Checkpoints are important for two reasons:

  1. Providing finality on the Root Chain
  2. Providing proof of burn in withdrawal of assets

A bird’s eye view of the process can be explained as:

  • A subset of active validators from the pool are selected to act as block producers for a span (set of blocks on the sidechain). The Selection of each span will also be decided by at least 2/3 of the validators in terms of stakingpower. These block producers are responsible for creating blocks and broadcasting it to the remaining of the network.
  • A checkpoint includes the merkle root hash of all blocks created during any given interval. All nodes validate the same and attach their signature to it.
  • A selected proposer from the validator set is responsible for collecting all signatures for a particular checkpoint and committing the same on the main-chain.
  • The responsibility of creating blocks and also proposing checkpoints is variably dependent on a validator’s stake ratio in the overall pool.

Bor (Block Producer Layer)

Bor is Matic’s sidechain block producer - the entity responsible for aggregating transactions into blocks.

Bor block producers are a subset of the validators and are shuffled periodically by the Heimdall validators.

Read more about Bor architecture here:

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🔗 Bor architecture:

🔗 Heimdall architecture:

🔗 Checkpoint mechanism: