White Paper Published for Blockchain Privacy Tech Zk-starks

Rachel Rose O'Leary
Jan 11, 2018 at 17:00 UTC
Updated Jan 12, 2018 at 12:12 UTC
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The highly anticipated white paper for privacy technology zk-starks has been released.

Touted as a more secure version of zk-snarks, the privacy technology used by zcash, zk-starks remove the need for a “trusted setup.” The publication of the zk-starks white paper will likely cause a stir in the development community.

The paper is co-authored by Eli-Ben Sasson, a professor at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, who has been researching zero-knowledge (ZK) proofs for the better part of 15 years. ZK proofs allow information to be verified without revealing anything about the information. Zk-starks offer an alternative to existing ZK cryptography that has long been criticized for its potential security weaknesses and its weight, which makes systems that use the tech slow and expensive.

The white paper states:

“No ZK system realized thus far in code (including that used by cryptocurrencies like zcash) has achieved both transparency and exponential verification speedup, simultaneously, for general computations.”

Also in the paper, a proof-of-concept is detailed, in which police prove that the DNA of a presidential candidate is not contained within their offender database without revealing any information about the database or the DNA.

Zk-starks have been heralded by a number of cryptocurrency development teams, including the privacy-oriented project monero. Even ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin has been researching the tech.

As previously detailed by CoinDesk, blockchain developers seem to be aiming their attention at a couple issues this year – one being privacy and the other scalability. As privacy technology is reaching new milestones, with other ZK systems such as Bulletproofs attracting widespread enthusiasm, the focus is on making these systems lighter so as not to weigh down blockchains looking to scale.

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Zcash Company, the for-profit entity that develops the zcash protocol.

Keys in door lock image via Shutterstock

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