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Zero-Knowledge Proofs (ZKP)

Zero-Knowledge Proofs (ZKP) are cryptographic protocols that allow one party to prove knowledge of something to another party without revealing the actual information.

Understanding Zero-knowledge proofs (ZKP)

Zero-knowledge proof (ZKP) is a method by which one party can prove to another party that they know a value, such as a secret, without conveying any information apart from the fact that they know the value. The concept of zero-knowledge proofs was first introduced by Shafi Goldwasser, Silvio Micali, and Charles Rackoff.

To understand zero-knowledge proofs, let's consider an example:

Suppose you have two balls, one red and one green, and they're indistinguishable in every way except color. You give these balls to a friend who is color-blind. You want to convince your color-blind friend that the balls are different colors, without revealing which ball is red and which is green.

Hands holding a red ball on the left hand, and a green ball on the right hand.

So you ask your friend to hide the balls behind his back, bring one out in each hand, and then hide them again and possibly switch the balls between his hands. If the balls are indeed of different colors, you will be able to tell whether he switched them or not.

Over multiple rounds of this game, if you consistently say correctly whether he switched the balls or not, your friend will have to conclude that the balls are indeed different colors, because the odds of you guessing correctly every time would be astronomically low if the balls were the same color. However, your friend still won't know which ball is red and which is green - you've proved you know something (the balls are different colors) without revealing what that something is (which ball is which color).

This is a very simplified example, but it gives you a basic idea of what a zero-knowledge proof is. In the world of computer science and cryptography, zero-knowledge proofs are used in authentication systems, blockchain technologies, and privacy-preserving systems. They're extremely useful in these contexts, because they allow one party to verify that another party possesses a specific piece of information without exposing the information itself.

There are different types of zero-knowledge proofs, including interactive and non-interactive ones. In interactive zero-knowledge proofs, like the color-blind friend example, the prover and verifier engage in a back-and-forth communication. In non-interactive zero-knowledge proofs, the prover can generate the proof on their own and send it to the verifier.

One specific type of non-interactive zero-knowledge proof that's become especially important in recent years is zk-SNARKs (Zero-Knowledge Succinct Non-Interactive Argument of Knowledge). This type of proof is used in certain privacy-focused blockchain technologies, including Zcash, to enable the validation of transactions without revealing the details of those transactions.


Zcash (ZEC) utilizes zero-knowledge proofs to enable private transactions


Blockchain and Technology
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