Zero-knowledge proofs now live on Bitcoin
Competition heats up as developers race to optimize and scale zero-knowledge proofs —with ZeroSync and StarkWare leading the way.
Zero-knowledge (ZK) proofs have quickly become one of blockchain technology’s most talked about items.
In recent days, the technology has been deployed to the Ethereum (ETH) mainnet, but now a host of new teams are at work scaling and optimizing the technology for Bitcoin.
A Swiss non-profit called the ZeroSync Association — based in Zug, Switzerland — is one of several entities now at work on developing zero-knowledge proofs for Bitcoin (BTC).
What are zero-knowledge proofs?
The core technology of ZK proofs theoretically enables users to validate the state and transaction history of the Bitcoin blockchain without downloading the entire chain or trusting a third party.
While numerous reports of other rollups have focused on layer 2s deployed to the Ethereum mainnet, the ZeroSync association–composed of Robin Linus, Tino Steffens and Lukas George–has plan to beef up optimization and security of their ZK rollup in the coming weeks.
“It’s very much in the prototype stage,” ZeroSync co-founder Robin Linus said to CoinDesk, adding “the grand vision is that you download that one megabyte of proof and that is as good as if you had downloaded the 500 gigabytes.”
ZK proofs are essentially two parties confirming their identity to each other — without disclosing any other information to a third party who might be watching.
Competition in zero-knowledge technology is heating up
ZeroSync is joined by others in what is an increasingly crowded field of developers interested in privacy, security and access to the world’s largest and most important blockchains.
Others like StarkWare, having first tested on Ethereum, have also started to migrate to Bitcoin.
With ZK rollups now overhauling network state validation models, the race is on to secure market share as newly formed ZK developers optimize and begin to scale.
StarkWare’s co-founder, Eli Ben-Sasson, has a Ph.D. in theoretical computer science and has been studying ZK proofs since 2001. He has held research positions at prestigious institutions such as the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, Harvard, and MIT, and is considered to be one of the leading experts of the maths in the field.
StarkWare uses what is known as an off-chain Prover and on-chain Verifier approach to unlock mass scalability by allowing off-chain processing of large computations while ensuring their integrity on-chain with minimal overhead.
StarkEx, Cairo, and Starknet are some of the products they have developed to achieve this and — along with ZeroSync and others like Polygon with their recent introduction of a zkEVM — the race is on to develop optimized and scaleable solutions for popular mainnets.