Announcing the ZPrize Competition

Alex Pruden
May 10, 2022

Zero-knowledge Cryptography and Why it Matters

Zero-knowledge ("zk") cryptography represents the most promising solution to scalability and privacy in Web 3.0 today.

From zk-rollups for Ethereum like Aztec, to super-light clients such as Celo's Plumo, to platforms for private applications like Aleo, this technology is increasingly being integrated across the space. Why is that so exciting? And what does the future hold?

Zero-knowledge cryptography has gone from being an academic curiosity to a practical solution for real-world problems within the past decade. This is progress largely driven by blockchain-based use cases.

In fact, the first commercial deployment of any zk-based system was ZCash in 2016. Since then, there has been rapid development of zero-knowledge cryptography to make it more efficient, more lightweight, and more flexible for a variety of applications. As far as the industry has come, significant opportunities remain to push this technology even further so it can scale to support millions or even billions of users.

What is ZPrize?

The ZPrize is an industry-wide effort to accelerate zero-knowledge technology. This effort will be in the form of a competition, in the likeness of the XPrize, or DARPA Grand Challenge. The results of the competition will be open-sourced for the benefit of all.

The aim is to make widespread application of this technology practical. The specific goals of the ZPrize competition include:

  • Improve Baseline Performance of Key General Algorithms
  • Increase Diversity and Availability of Low-Level Libraries for Cryptographic Proofs
  • Increase Awareness of the Groundbreaking Potential of Zero-Knowledge Crypto

Much of the potential for optimization remains in hardware acceleration. Many people forget that the modern encryption techniques the modern web only became practical after they were implemented natively in CPUs. Hardware acceleration doesn't necessarily mean ASICs, it also means new ways of using (alone or in combination) GPUs, CPUs, and FPGAs. The ZPrize even includes a category for mobile devices!

Zero-knowledge cryptography is the most exciting and under-rated technology of our time. With the ZPrize competition, we hope to bring this technology to the forefront.  We look forward to your submissions. We are excited you are joining us on this journey of accelerating the future of zero-knowledge cryptography.

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