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ZoKrates seeks to bring the best of Zcash to Ethereum with Devcon Debut

It may not be a surprise that Jacob Eberhardt receives the stage at the annual conference of the ethereum developers.

With scalability and confidentiality at the top of the blockchain network, now valued at several billion, the Ph.D. The researcher from the Technical University of Berlin has to start a new programming language in Cancun, in Mexico, an event intended to help the Ethereum to improve its main weaknesses.

Called ZoKrates, the goal of the project is to provide developers with a toolkit that could help them realize the potential of a highly anticipated blockchain privacy tool called zk-snarks.

Launched last October, the recent ethereum software update, inaugurated last October, paved the way for easier code usage and, because it allows you to take advantage of this functionality, the implications of ZoKrates are potentially vast.

First of all, it is designed to be simple to deploy for any ethereum developer, which could cause privacy features to start surfacing in applications and decentralized tokens. And second, because zk-snarks compress information, ZoKrates has the potential to help scale the ethereum platform by moving the calculations of the main blockchain, making it easier to data storage.

In short, ZoKrates obscures information from the main ethereum blockchain, and then uploads them into a smart contract that the network can always verify, all without exposing the information on the contracts.

Eberhardt tells CoinDesk:

"There was a lot of talk about Zk-snarks, but the gap between the theoretical concept and its practical application seemed huge, I'm looking to fill that gap."

Costs and Benefits

It is also interesting to note how much Eberhardt believes he has accomplished the feat.

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For starters, ZoKrates is a type of intelligent ethereal contract. A custom version of the self-executing code that runs on the network, the tool is used to transfer a zk-snark operation to the blockchain and verify that this information is valid.

As Eberhardt describes it, a ZoKrates contract verifies that a calculation, or set of transactions, has occurred correctly – or on its own terms, it "turns a program into a set of conditions. "

This brings the ethereum closer to offering private transactions on its blockchain. Yet just like protecting privacy from etheric, the effort is far from simple.

For one, checking a zk-snark is always expensive. When the encrypted information is read and accepted on the ether chain, it requires a lot of computational effort, which is measured in the ethereum in units of "gas". However, it is crucial that the cost of verifying a ZoKrates contract, while high, remains uniform at all times, no matter how complex the calculation.

At present, the verification fees of ZoKrates are about 1.6 million gas. Put simply for the possible users, all over this figure would be cheaper to run on ZoKrates.

As for what happens on the blockchain itself, the calculations should always take into account the block size constraints of the ethereum. However, rather than filling blocks with transaction data, the distributed ledger would contain evidence that verification of all transactions had taken place.

The challenges ahead

Although the possibilities are exciting, the project is not without obstacles.

Eberhardt has identified two major challenges: for its part, ZoKrates is still under development, which means that even if the code has been opened, it is not ready to be used in production applications .

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In addition to this, Eberhardt is currently working solo on the project, with some comments and discussions from Christian Reitwiessner, the zk-snarks leader of the ethereum. For this reason, said Eberhardt, the development schedule can not be predicted.

And, of course, as always in the blockchain world, there are concerns about zk-snarks themselves, and alternative concepts are competing for attention.

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which owns an interest in Zcash Company, the for-profit entity that develops the zcash protocol.

Shredded paper image via Shutterstock

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