This is part one of a multi-part series diving deeper into the blockchain applications of zero knowledge proofs. There’s been a lot of hype in this space recently, but not a lot of meaningful technical discussion, so this series of articles will explore the applications under the hood. Let’s get started!
zkSync, developed by Matter Labs, was created in 2018 by Alex Gluchowski. zkSync’s end goal is to create a fully trustless L2 with L1 guarantees, such as reorg protection and fund security. In addition to simply being secure, it is also developing tooling to provide support for zero-knowledge based smart contracts.
zkSync 1.0 initially launched in June 2020 and is fully operational. Currently, it operates using PLONK as the prover. With zkSync 1.1, recursive proofs, subscriptions, fee payments in separate tokens (example: send USDC, pay tx fee in USDC), and ERC-20 minting/burning capabilities were added. With recursive proofs enabled, the current throughput of zkSync is 3,000 TPS.
PLONK stands for “Permutations over Lagrange-bases for Oecumenical Noninteractive arguments of Knowledge”. Initially created by Ariel Gabizon, Zac Williamson and Oana Ciobotaru, it provides some improvements to previous proof protocols (Marlin and SONIC, for example), while still retaining some downsides.
PLONK benefits and improvements:
zkSync v1’s PLONK implemetation relies on the Ignition trusted setup ceremony, organized by Aztec. With trusted setup ceremonies, it is secure if just a single party deletes their entropy (input) provided to generate the setup. With Ignition, 176 participants (including Vitalik himself) from over 30 countries participated, significantly lowering the trust requirements.
Beyond PLONK, zkSync is working on RedShift, which aims to remove the need for a trusted setup ceremony with something that is still in active research and development: transparent SNARKs. Transparent SNARKs would help make PLONK completely trustless by default.
zkSync 2.0's zkEVM allows developers to seamlessly transfer L1 dApps to L2; While not an exact copy of the EVM, zkEVM brings scalability to L1. Let’s explore how it works under the hood!
zkSync operates several pieces of infrastructure on top of Ethereum. All infrastructure is currently live and operational, including the zkEVM. However, the zkEVM is still being worked on, and will be made public at a later time.
2022 is the year of Layer 2. With so many protocols coming out of research and into the implementation stage, Ethereum will be ready for mass adoption while remaining trustless, secure, and decentralized. In a decade from now, the infrastructure being built today will be the backbone of the next generation of protocols.
Thanks for reading this article! This is the summation of a lot of research to help bridge the knowledge gap. Follow me on Twitter to get notified about future posts and let me know what you think. My content will remain 100% free, forever, and is licensed under CC BY-SA unless otherwise specified. (Shoutout to Shannon for the proofread!)