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In modern technology, privacy and data security have become paramount. Thus, zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs) enable verification without unnecessary disclosure.
This guide explores zero-knowledge proofs, including a comprehensive understanding of their benefits.
Overview Of Zero-Knowledge Proofs (ZKPs)
A zero-knowledge proof is a method of demonstrating knowledge without revealing any information beyond the fact that you possess the knowledge. It involves two parties: a prover and a verifier.
The prover asserts possession of the information, while the verifier validates this claim. Consider a scenario where you claim to know the password to your account.
By accessing your account, you can substantiate this claim. The verifier confirms that you indeed have access, thus establishing your knowledge of the password.
More importantly, you don’t need to disclose the actual password; the fact that you have access suffices. In practice, a zero-knowledge proof protocol involves a more intricate process.
The verifier issues a “challenge” to the prover, often a mathematical problem requiring specialized knowledge. This challenge is repeated numerous times to ensure the consistency of the prover’s claim.
Three Criteria Define ZKPs
- Completeness: Valid input always yields a “true” result in the zero-knowledge protocol.
- Soundness: Invalid input prevents deceiving the protocol, resulting in a “false” output.
- Zero-Knowledge: The verifier gains no additional information about the statement except its validity or falseness, hence the term “zero knowledge.”
Types Of Zero-Knowledge Proofs
Zero-knowledge-proof protocols are of two types: interactive and non-interactive. The level of interaction required between the prover and verifier distinguishes them.
Interactive ZKPs require substantial back-and-forth communication between both parties, thus easing the verification of complex statements. Kostas Kryptos, Chief Cryptographer at Mysten Labs, offers a simple example involving differently-colored balls.
The prover aims to demonstrate to the verifier that a red ball and a green ball possess distinct colors. Through a series of interactions, the verifier becomes increasingly convinced without explicit disclosure.
Non-interactive ZKPs demand significantly less interaction. The prover provides proof that can be validated without further engagement. This efficiency minimizes communication between the parties.
Proposed by researchers Manuel Blum, Silvio M Micali, and Paul Feldman, this one-round protocol enhances efficiency and allows public access to the generated proof.
Popular Divergent Protocols Of Zero-Knowledge Proof
Meanwhile, various protocols have emerged to meet the diverse demands of scalability and privacy.
Zero-knowledge rollups have gained significant attention because they enhance blockchain scalability. They aggregate multiple transactions before submitting them to the blockchain as a batch.
This method significantly reduces the number of individual transactions being recorded on-chain, resulting in improved efficiency and cost-effectiveness. A side benefit of zero-knowledge rollups is the inclusion of a validity proof along with the batch.
These validity proofs, which can be SNARKs or STARKs, serve as cryptographic evidence attesting to the accuracy of the computations. This innovation is primarily helpful for blockchain networks that aim to handle a high volume of transactions efficiently.
Volitions are an innovative integration of zk-rollups and validiums, allowing users to choose between these solutions within a single framework. This combination creates a powerful and efficient system that addresses some of the limitations associated with each protocol individually.
For instance, in the event of a malicious attack on the validium side of Volitions, the funds stored on the zk-rollup side remain secure. This attribute enhances the overall security and resilience of the system, making it an intriguing option for projects seeking comprehensive protection against potential threats.
Validium combines validity-proof features with off-chain data storage to further enhance scalability. The validity proofs are posted on the base chain, ensuring the integrity of the data. Meanwhile, the bulk of the data itself is stored off-chain.
One of the notable advantages of Validium is its efficiency in terms of gas fees. Compared to other protocols like zk-rollups, Validium typically incurs lower gas fees, making it an attractive option for projects focusing on cost-effectiveness and efficiency.
However, Validium has its challenges, particularly potential vulnerabilities to malicious attacks.
zk-SNARKs And zk-STARKs
Both zk-SNARKs and zk-STARKs are fundamental types of cryptographic proofs that are the foundation of many zero-knowledge protocols. They differ in their approaches and computational requirements.
zk-SNARKs (Zero-Knowledge Succinct Non-Interactive Argument of Knowledge)
These proofs are known for their efficiency in conducting computations. They employ elliptic curves for cryptographic proofs, which are computationally less expensive compared to the hashing functions used in STARKs. As a result, zk-SNARKs often incur lower gas fees.
zk-STARKs (Zero-Knowledge Scalable Transparent Argument of Knowledge)
In contrast, zk-STARKs require almost zero interaction between the parties involved. This lack of interaction allows zk-STARKs to prove transactions and offer enhanced computing power rapidly. While they may have higher computational requirements than zk-SNARKs, they excel in scenarios where minimal interaction is desired.
Zero-Knowledge Proofs Use Cases
Zero-knowledge-proof technology has been integrated into several projects:
- Binance: Upgraded its Proof of Reserves system for enhanced security and privacy.
- Zcash: Pioneered privacy in blockchain transactions with zk-SNARKs.
- Immutable X: Implemented zk-STARKs for NFT minting and trading with high throughput and secure transactions.
- StarkEx: Built a layer-2 scalability solution on Ethereum, incorporating zk-STARKs.
As ZKP and blockchain technologies mature, they will usher in an era of enhanced privacy and security.
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