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Zero Knowledge Proof (ZKP)

| May 14, 2024

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Zero knowledge proof is the latest verification protocol in Web3. It solves the dilemma of solving a problem between two parties without disclosing either party’s information.  

In a nutshell, ZK Proof is a mathematical method of verifying a particular set of information involving two parties, where the ‘prover’ demonstrates the ‘verifier’ that they possess the said information without revealing the real details. In the decentralized ecosystem, where anonymity plays a pivotal role, ZK proof has real applications that ensure privacy and security in transactions and interactions.

To explain how the ZK proof works, here’s a simple example. Imagine two friends, one of whom claims he can solve a complex math problem, but he doesn’t want to reveal the truth of the problem solution to his other friend. The first friend can easily solve the problem without revealing the original solution by applying the zero-knowledge proof. 

The concept of zero-knowledge proofs was first introduced in a 1985 paper by Shafi Goldwasser and Silvio Micali. They postulated that it is possible to prove properties about a number without having to disclose the numbers. Even though this idea was rudimentary at first, it soon turned out to be revolutionary, leading to the development of modern cryptographic techniques that define how privacy and security can be attained in a cryptic way. 

Coming back to how zero-knowledge proof works. For zk proof to work, it has to meet two basic criteria: completeness and soundness. Completeness ensures that the prover can demonstrate 

that they possess accurate knowledge and still do not showcase the source of their information. For soundness, it guarantees that the verifier can trust the validity of the information the prover shares. This created a zero-knowledge system as both parties can trust each other and the solution and not question the source and authenticity of the information. 

Zero-knowledge proofs find applications in scenarios where privacy and security are paramount. For instance, they can be used in authentication systems to verify identities without exposing sensitive information. In a practical example, they can confirm that a person has a password to a computer system without revealing the password itself.

Real-World Uses for ZK Proofs: 

  1. Secure Logins: Imagine proving you know your password without revealing it to a website. This protects your password from hackers!
  2. Private Transactions: Cryptocurrencies like Zcash use zero-knowledge proofs to keep transaction amounts hidden while still verifying their validity on the blockchain.

Zero-knowledge proofs are a powerful cryptographic tool that enhances privacy and security in various applications. They let you prove you know something without revealing the details, keeping your sensitive information safe.