Foresight Ventures: zk, zkVM, zkEVM and their Future

TL; DR

  • Zero-knowledge proof, which can guarantee computational integrity, correctness and privacy, has a lot of use cases in blockchain scaling and privacy.
  • zk-SNARK and zk-STARK have their own advantages, and the combination of these two has more potential.
  • zkVM empowers applications with zero-knowledge proofs, and zkVM can be categorized by instruction sets in mainstream, EVM, or newly-built ones.
  • EVM compatibility includes EVM compatibility, equivalence, and specification-level compatibility.
  • zkEVM is an EVM-compatible and zero-knowledge proof-friendly environment. It can be divided into native-based and compiler-based solutions.
  • Native-based zkEVM is the future of Ethereum and blockchain.
  • A general zkVM supports the Solidity lang is the future of Web3.

0. Zero-knowledge Proof

An easy-to-understand definition to zero-knowledge proofs:

1. SNARK and STARK

  • Larger batch size (scalable * 2)
  • Faster proving (scalable * 3)
  • No trusted setup (the generated parameters are only valid for the current application, and need to be re-set up if there are changes)
  • Post-quantum security

2. zkVM

The aforementioned Tornado.cash and zk.money are both similarly zero-knowledge proof applications that only support transfer operations, but not general-purpose computation. By analogy, these applications have only the functionality of Bitcoin, and are nowhere near as Turing-completeness and DApp ecosystem as Ethereum (smart contracts on Bitcoin doesn’t make it well).

  • Generality: zkVM can generate proofs for any program or computation.
  • Simplicity: A relatively small number of constraints can describe the entire VM (no need to repeatedly generate the entire VM’s circuit).
  • Recursive: Free recursive feature. As with generality, verification of VMs can be performed by VMs. This is fun, for example you can put a zkVM inside a zkVM, similar to what StarkWare says the concept of L3.
  • Performance issues: Circuits need to be optimized, and optimizations can be performed for specific computations.

3. EVM

EVM is an Ethereum virtual machine, which can also be understood as the execution environments for running smart contracts.

  • EVM Equivalence: compatibility at the EVM bytecode level.
  • EVM Specification-level Compatibility: what is commonly referred to as true zkEVM. In most cases, it’s even backwards compatible optimized supersets, providing account abstraction (i.e. each account is a smart contract) and other features that Layer1 EVMs do not provide.

4. zkEVM

Let’s take a look at zkEVM. By definition, zkEVM is an EVM-compatible and zero-knowledge proof-friendly virtual machine that guarantees the correctness of programs, operations, and inputs and outputs.

a) Circuit Complexity

Different contracts require different circuits to be generated, and these circuits are “complex”.

b) Design Difficulty

zkEVM is not only a refactoring of the EVM, but also a refactoring of the entire state transition of the Ethereum using zero-knowledge proof techniques.

5. zkEVM and zkVM

The existence of zkEVM I see as a way to refurbish and patch the Ethereum ecosystem and add to its prosperity, while the existence of zkVM is not necessarily an enhancement to Ethereum, but also has greater potential.

6. zkVM’s Future

What if there was a universal zkVM that would allow smart contracts in all programming languages, not just Solidity, not just Cairo, but Rust, C++, Go, to run with zero knowledge proofs? (Stellar tried, but failed.)

Related Links

https://brewminate.com/a-mathematical-duel-in-16th-century-renaissance-venice/

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Foresight Ventures

Foresight Ventures

137 Followers

Foresight Ventures is a blockchain technology-focused investment firm, focusing on identifying disruptive innovation opportunities that will change the industry