Zero-Knowledge proof event — Amsterdam 2019

Oct 31, 2019

By: Dusk Network

A report by Luke Pearson, Cryptographer at Dusk Network.

Over the past two days, a team of Engineers and Developers from Dusk Network were attending ZK proof event in Amsterdam. The event was hosted by Deloitte, in collaboration with QEDIT, where many industry leaders from both blockchain and commercial space came together. “ZK Proof” is a movement designed to bring together tech companies who utilize this contemporary cryptography, in an effort to standardize the works so that a more concrete benchmark can be offered to enterprises.

Here are some thoughts from Luke Pearson, one of Dusk’s Cryptographers.

“For anybody who’s following this technology they’ll know how cutting edge and exciting it is, but also how capricious it can be. People often believe that zero knowledge proofs are something that have come about in the past decade or so, which is not quite true — they have in fact been around since 1989. The reason they’ve become so prominent is that the new blockchain era has been a catalyst to the world waking up and allows people to see privacy for what it is, a human right and necessity. In very recent years, the amount of research that has gone into developing these systems, which maintain anonymity, has increased by an unfathomable amount. It’s very exciting to be following the research, as well as contributing to new methods and applications in the ZK ecosystem. As a member of the Dusk Network team, I am fortunate to see these works being put into real practice — with our own transaction models, blind bid protocol and smart contract features. Also with my own work, where we have specially designed our own Elliptic curve to perform a whole host of Elliptic curve operations inside circuits, like high speed signature schemes with a trust-less setup.

With all the research there has been an absolute plethora of proving systems released in the past few years, the trade offs have gone well beyond ‘trust-less vs. trusted’ setups. Now we have to consider the entire ecosystem when opting for a particular zero-knowledge proof. Implementers have now started asking themselves: What speed will this proof provide if I use a matrix instead? If its efficient, does that work well with my hash function constants? How will I separate a range proof to users but keep any proof verification to the virtual machine? As a cryptographer, thinking about how the problems raised from these questions can be tackled is one of the most exciting parts of my job (the best being the satisfaction of solving them). However, the world is not just made up of cryptographers (although what an amazing world that would be), it is made up of people who only want to know how this can help to improve their current state, and it is therefore the duty of the industry pioneers to bring about a large scale standardization so that the answers to their question can be answered. This is where the ZK knowledge community event comes in.

Being at the event gave me such a tangible sense of where the industry is heading and how well the technology is being both received and adopted on an industrial level. I can say with absolute confidence, this is already becoming a reality. The hosts alone, Deloitte, the largest professional services firm in the world, showed us their new app where they can verify income statements from government and banking records in zero knowledge, to allow people to be instantly accepted for housing grants. During the presentations we were able to see presentations from academics and industry leaders, about the creation and implementation of these proof systems. Following this, there was also strong collaboration, through the medium of forums, to allow us to discuss the best use cases for all of the current tech and tend towards a unanimous decision that we can present as the ‘standard’ which companies will use when they adopt zero knowledge into their business. Personally, I feel this step is the most crucial part of current zero knowledge efforts, as in its current state, a lot of the research is quite scattered and would be difficult to follow or understand if you were coming from little or no technical background.

For Dusk Network to be engaged in the ZK Proof community allows us to have immediate access and collaborate with others that are at the forefront of all the zero knowledge innovations happening around the world. I had a long conversation with Daira Hopwood, the protocol Engineer for Zcash, and we discussed the possibilities, and associated benefits, of integrating: supersonic, a new zero-knowledge proof system that scales logarithmically in size, and verification. And what special ‘algorithmic tricks’ can be used to help us create pairings for groups of unknown order, something we could use to have a trust-less high speed prover right on the Dusk Network protocol. Carlos, the co-creator of Dusk’s Zerocaf, had a meeting on the same topic with Alan Szepieniec, who is one of the founders of ‘supersonic’, just one week previously in Zurich, where they spoke at length about Zerocaf and Alan’s invention. Exchanging knowledge with two world renowned academics is second to none in helping to enhance our access to the best tools and bring the many innovations behind Dusk to a full reality.”

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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