Web3 for normies: ZK-Stark

2023-04-11 by Hugues Marty

ZK-Stark (Zero-Knowledge Stark) is a cutting-edge cryptographic proof system that’s the equivalent of a secret handshake for computer science geeks. It’s used to ensure secure and private verification of complex computations, without revealing any private information. In this article, we will explore what ZK-Stark is, how it works, and some of its real-world applications, particularly in Web3.

What is ZK-Stark?

ZK-Stark is a type of cryptographic proof system that allows for secure and private verification of complex computations. It is used to prove that a certain computation was performed correctly, without revealing any information about the inputs or outputs of the computation itself. Unlike other cryptographic proof systems, such as ZK-Snarks, ZK-Stark is transparent and does not require a trusted setup, which makes it more secure and resistant to potential attacks.

How does ZK-Stark work?

The process of using ZK-Stark involves expressing a computation as a polynomial, which is then evaluated at various points. It’s like making a fancy cake and only allowing your guests to taste a few crumbs to prove it’s delicious. The evaluation points are selected in a way that the polynomial can be reconstructed from the resulting values, without revealing any information about the inputs or outputs of the computation.

The resulting values are used to construct a system of linear equations, which can be solved using standard linear algebra techniques. The solution to this system of equations serves as the ZK-Stark proof, which can be verified by anyone without revealing any information about the original computation.

Use cases in Web3

ZK-Stark has numerous applications in Web3, particularly in blockchain and cryptocurrency. One of the most promising use cases is in enabling privacy-preserving transactions. For example, ZK-Stark can be used in Ethereum to enable private and efficient transactions, without revealing any information about the parties involved, the amount of funds transferred, or the details of the transaction itself.

ZK-Stark can also be used in decentralized finance (DeFi) to enable secure auditing and data sharing. For example, a DeFi protocol can use ZK-Stark to prove that it has sufficient funds to cover all outstanding loans, without revealing the details of individual loans or the identity of the borrowers.

Another use case of ZK-Stark in Web3 is in enabling secure and private voting systems. ZK-Stark can be used to ensure the integrity of the voting process, while maintaining the privacy of the voters.

Final words

ZK-Stark is a powerful cryptographic proof system that enables secure and private verification of complex computations. Its transparent nature and resistance to potential attacks make it an attractive option for many applications, particularly in Web3. With its many real-world applications, ZK-Stark is likely to play an increasingly important role in many areas of our lives, particularly in the rapidly-evolving world of blockchain and cryptocurrency.

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