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Through Gitcoin, which is the largest fund-raising and construction platform for Web 3.0, creators and builders of Web 3.0 projects can obtain funding from community users. As of the end of March, there are over 2,400 projects and 312,000 active developers on Gitcoin, with a fundraising amount of USD 54.6 million. Gitcoin Grants is a regular crowdfunding event held by Gitcoin that allows community users to invest in promising new projects without any quota. Gitcoin Grants Round 13 (GR13), which started on March 9 and ended on March 24, featured more than 800 projects that were classified by tags. In particular, there were over 20 projects under the zkTech tag.
zkTech projects refer to projects focusing on zero-knowledge proof (ZKP) that are early-stage, open-source, or public goods. ZKP is playing an increasingly important role in the blockchain space. For instance, Zcash, a noted privacy-preserving project, uses ZKP to protect users’ transaction privacy. Meanwhile, ZKP has also been recognized for its importance for Ethereum scaling. Vitalik has praised ZK Rollup, a ZKP-based project, on many occasions and even considers it to be a long-term solution for Ethereum’s Layer 2 (https://zeroknowledge.fm/120-2/). According to statistics from L2BEAT (https://l2beat.com), among the top 10 Layer 2 projects (by TVL), four are ZK projects, including zkSync, dYdX, and Loopring. Today, we will cover over 20 ZK projects under the zkTech tag and dive into the ZK world.
The 0xPARC Foundation promotes R&D and education & ecosystem development on Ethereum and other decentralized applications. Projects it funds, provides operational support for, or is otherwise involved in include Dark Forest, EthUniversity, Reboot, and Project Sophon. 0xPARC collected learning resources from learning groups that apply ZK makes them available at learn.0xparc.org. Offering resources such as Prerequisite Materials, Lectures, and Demos, the website is a platform of learning resources featuring constant updates. It aims to provide the best resources for ZK enthusiasts. The funds 0xPARC receives from GR13 will be mainly used to support administrators and volunteers in maintaining the resources of the entire project.
Project: ZK Travel Scholarships
Similar to student grants, the project was also founded by the 0xPARC Foundation. 0xPARC plans to work with Stanford Center for Blockchain Research to fund cryptography students or researchers, enabling them to attend ZK conferences or other crypto events. The project aims to bring researchers closer to the blockchain community by engaging them in Ethereum and blockchain community events and conferences, thereby enabling the ongoing basic research for the long-term application of blockchain.
Project: Blaine Bublitz
Blaine Bublitz is a special project that directly funds the work of Blaine Bublitz, an active ETH/ZK infrastructure and ecosystem developer who has contributed to the development of several open-source ZK tools.
Project: ZK HACK
ZK Hack is a short-term online event platform featuring introductory workshops and advanced puzzle-solving competitions. Participants can learn how to use ZK tools on this platform.
Project: MoonMath Manual to zk-SNARKs
Least Authority, a consulting firm focusing on security services, provides MoonMath Manual to zk-SNARKs for an audience with minimal experience in cryptography and programming, helping readers implement complex ZK designs from step to step.
zkApe, a Turkish newsletter about zero-knowledge, releases project developments, updates, publications, and podcasts about zero-knowledge technology from time to time.
Circom is a major circuit programming language and a compiler that allows programmers to design and create their own arithmetic circuits for ZK proofs. The first version of Circom was developed in 2018 by Jordi Baylina from iden3, a tech team focusing on Ethereum scaling solutions. As a major development tool for ZK technology, Circom has been successfully used for building several projects, including Tornado Cash, Dark Forest, Polygon Hermez, and many more.
Circom is a novel domain-specific language that aims to provide developers with a holistic framework to construct arithmetic circuits through an easy-to-use interface and abstract the complexity of the proving mechanisms. In particular, CircomLib is an open-source library of templates provided with hundreds of circuits such as comparators, hash functions, digital signatures, binary and decimal converters, etc. All templates defined in the Circom libraries have been manually proved and are guaranteed to be safe by construction. Circom helps programmers work in a modular fashion by defining small pieces and combining them to create large circuits that describe complex real-world problems. In addition, users can also create their own custom templates.
CirC is a compiler infrastructure that supports compilation from high-level languages to circuits. For instance, it has been used to compile to .
ZKxZK is an open-source effort funded by the 0xPARC Foundation that aims to implement efficient proof-of-concept ZK circuits for Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) and Pairing Based Cryptography (PBC) through Circom. The funds obtained from GR13 grants will be mainly used for renting servers to run the required programs.
ZKML plans to develop zkSNARK circuits about machine learning through Circom. The project was conceptualized and launched during the first learning group of 0xPARC in 2021.
Project: Zk Block
This project sets out to help developers focus on developing quality ZK Dapps by building a unified ZK template (called zkblock) that supports the latest web development technologies and ZK’s common code base.
zkREPL is an online playground for zero-knowledge circuits based on zk-SNARK. With zkREPL, both beginners and experts can freely practice and build new and creative ZK designs. zkREPL is also a web-based SNARK development environment. Members of the community may use the tool to collaborate on building circuits of increasing complexity. Moreover, the project also serves as a testbed for new developer experience features. For instance, on zkREPL, users can mouse over any variable to see its value, like a continuous debugger for zero-knowledge circuits.
ZeroPool is a multi-chain DApp that allows sending fully anonymous, cheap, non-custodial transactions. ZeroPool recently has partnered up with Gnosis Chain (formerly xDai Chain), which will build privacy functions into EVM and cross-chain bridges through ZeroPool technology.
Project: Otter Cash
Otter Cash is similar to Solana’s Tornado Cash, but transaction fees on Otter Cash are much cheaper (less than USD 1).
zkC.R.E.A.M allows the average Japanese citizen to vote in a completely anonymous fashion while maintaining the integrity and verifiability of the final vote tallies. The project has received a grant from the Ethereum Foundation, and the DEMO has been released on its official website. zkC.R.E.A.M will later announce a user-friendly desktop version, as well as a mobile client.
Project: ZK Data Marketplace
ZK Data Marketplace is a ZK-based data market. Here is how the market works: Sellers first promise that the data they sell meets certain computational properties, then buyers lock the tokens in custody, and finally sellers encrypt the data using buyers’ public key and submit a ZK proof to make sure that the data is consistent with the promise. If the data turns out to be valid, sellers receive tokens and buyers get data.
Decentralisedvoting is an infant project that has only released its whitepaper so far. It plans to implement a decentralized anonymous voting system based on PLONK’s circuit and MPC. The project uses keys to generate and share vote tallies, thereby enabling more DAOs to transition to a decentralized governance structure.
GR13’s zkTech projects are mainly divided into three categories. In particular, community education projects account for about one third of the total, including learning group materials and grants provided by 0xPARC, as well as ZK HACK’s online events. Development tools also account for about one third, which primarily cover infrastructures such as the Circom circuit programming language and some code bases. This is the case probably because ZK comes with a high threshold in terms of development. As such, there are only a few developers and development tools. Therefore, the community hopes to integrate more resources and train more ZK developers through different ways to improve the relevant development tools.