Section: Application Domains
The huge interest shown by companies for blockchains and cryptocurrencies have attracted the attention of mainstream industries for new, advanced uses of cryptographic, beyond confidentiality, integrity and authentication. In particular, zero-knowledge proofs, computation with encrypted data, etc, are now revealing their potential in the blockchain context. Team Grace is investigating two topics in these areas: secure multiparty computation and so-called “STARKS”.
Secure multiparty computation enables several participants to compute a common function of data they each secretly own, without each participant revealing his data to the other participants. This area has seen great progress in recent years, and the cryptogaphic protocols are now mature enough for practical use. This topic is new to project-team Grace, and we will investigate it in the context of blockchains, through the lenses of use for private “smart contracts”. A PhD student has been hired since October, funded by IRT System-X.
(ZK-)STARKS stands for “(Zero-Knowledge) Scalable Transparent ARguments of Knowledge”, which can be zero knowledge or not. These techniques enable to have short probabilistic proof of correctness of program execution, which can be quicly checked by a verifier, without requiring the verifier to redo the computation again. This topic is close to the problem of computational integrity, and its theoretical foundations originate back to the 90's, which saw the formulation and proof of the celebrated PCP theorem. A protocol family equivalent of STARKS, “SNARKS”, are well established, performant and promoted by the zerocash protocol for anomymous cryptocurrency (and also available in Ethereum), and STARKS are seen as a future replacement for SNARKS, overcoming the SNARKS problem of trusted setup. At the core of STARKS lie algebraic codes, mainly basic Reed-Solomon codes, and we will investigate replacement for the Reed-Solomon codes, to allow more performant (shorter) STARKS.