IACR Crypto event 2019 — Academical progress in the field of cryptography
By Mels Dees

Aug 26, 2019 - Amsterdam

Our very own Luke Pearson (cryptographer) at the Crypto 2019 conference Santa Barbara

Dusk Netwerk - Crypto 2019 conference Santa Barbara - Academical progress in the field of cryptography

Luke: “Attending Crypto was undoubtedly the most informative and interesting conference I have attended in my academic career.” Crypto, hosted by the International Association for Cryptologic Research (IACR), is the broadest conference for cryptography in the world. As a result, the conference attracts some of the most renowned and important members of the field from across the globe.”

The International Association for Cryptologic Research (IACR) is a non-profit scientific organization whose purpose is to further research in cryptology and related fields. Cryptology is the science and practice of designing computation and communication systems which are secure in the presence of adversaries.

As a company, Dusk maintains a principle of consistent self-development and adherence to the progression of the blockchain world. To guarantee that we remain at the technological forefront (of these works), it is vital that we attend conferences like Crypto. Luke: “The degree to which the conference mirrored the academia of the cryptographic microcosm, was not only an indication of the areas of interest, but also reasoning as to why the front runners are conducting such research and how it connects to the rest of the field. This was in large parts due to the possibility of conferring and collaborating throughout the week.”

Hot topics at the event

The event was structured such that multiple talks where held in parallel which gave the options to follow whichever track was most interesting or relevant at the time. Luke: “the talks I enjoyed the most were those on post quantum security and Lattice-Based Zero-Knowledge (ZK). The initial reason for me taking towards those topics was the manner in which the papers were presented. I enjoyed the theoretical side to both areas as it was explained with strong mathematical context, which as a tool, always helps me to visualize the content of the paper.”

Lattice-Based Zero-Knowledge

Luke: “The reason I enjoyed the ZK works so much, is closely linked to my work at Dusk as well as the resounding message of privacy continually echoed by the crypto community. I feel that there isn’t much which holds more justification in my work than protecting peoples privacy and reinforcing that message with Dusk. To see so many advancements and new techniques for protocols which involve zero knowledge is truly refreshing. The paper which captivated me the most was ‘Zero-Knowledge Proofs on Secret-Shared Data via Fully Linear PCPs’, as I plan to use some of the presented techniques in upcoming projects with Dusk. Having the opportunity to scrutinize the authors at the event was exceptionally useful in helping both my understanding of the paper and amalgamating it into Dusk Peer-to-Peer (P2P) vision.”

Post Quantum Security

Luke: “Post quantum security, however, stuck with me for a different reason. It seems that people take to a level of procrastination when they paraphrase ‘that’s so distant in the future’, but it seems the post quantum is soon to be an adapted and utilized standard for cryptographic algorithms, which is nothing short of truly exciting. This is strongly backed up by two further reasons related to the conference. The first is that if the lists of accepted papers from Crypto 2018 and Crypto 2019 are compared, there are over three times the numbers of those surrounding the topics of quantum resistance at this years event.

The second reason stems from being able to talk with speakers and other conference attendees; much of the topics of discussion from such individuals, which drives the research from institutes like Microsoft, UC, IBM, MIT and Stanford, was centered around post quantum cryptography.”

Talking with field Cryptography leaders

Luke: “Amongst the people I got to speak with, I enjoyed my talking to Professor Erkay Savas, as I collaborated with him on the modular inversion algorithm written in the Zerocaf library — it was nice to talk to him in a social context and say thank you over a beer.

For the purpose of pure insight, I had a wonderful conversation with Professor Daniel J. Bernstein, the inventor of curve25519, which is widely regarded as one of the most important elliptic curves and a de facto primitive for a wide range of applications. A large portion of the works on elliptic curves at Dusk build on the standards set by Prof Bernstein and his curve, so it was very useful to gain a better understanding as to why the curve was constructed in the manner it was and where the constants are derived from.”

Staying at the forefront of Academic Research

Luke: “With the advancements that are taking place in the academic world, a conference like this helped me to gauge the path that research is taking, as well as a very intimate understanding of an eclectic range of works. This stems not only from the presentations of the papers with detailed and justified explanations from the authors, but also from the opportunity to ask questions, as well as being able to discuss topics surrounding the works with authors and prominent academics during the whole five day conference.”

Dusk Netwerk - Crypto 2019 conference Santa Barbara - Academical progress in the field of cryptography
Luke Pearson is a Junior Cryptographer at Dusk Network, co-creator of ZeroCaf, a doppio Elliptic Curve using a Ristretto mapping.

Dusk — Technology for Securities

Dusk Network is an open-source and privacy-oriented blockchain based on years of academic research. You can use Dusk Network to create smart contracts that control digital assets and securities.

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