A new technology known as zero-knowledge proof (ZK-proof) is set to revolutionize the way historical data is accessed and verified on the Ethereum blockchain. This innovation aims to overcome the challenge of deep chain validation, which has been a usability barrier for the network.
In this context, technology firm Herodotus has introduced its on-chain accumulator, which utilizes storage-proof cryptography. This solution allows users to independently verify data from any point in Ethereum’s blockchain without relying on third-party intermediaries. The implementation of this technology makes use of StarkWare’s STARK proofs, a ZK-proof technology co-invented by mathematician Eli Ben-Sasson.
In order to achieve advanced scaling efficiency, StarkWare presented Herodotus with a tailored instance of its shared prover service SHARP. This service enables the virtual machine to generate “proofs of proofs” by parallelly and in real-time generating proofs of transactions or blocks, and then batching them into a subsequent proof. By utilizing recursive proofs, this novel approach significantly improves the scalability of the network.
At a more technical level, the on-chain accumulator functions as a cache, storing block headers. When the accumulator possesses a header in its cache, the respective storage-proof computation can utilize it for validation. On the other hand, if the header is not cached, the prover must generate a proof to cover the requested block range, add the block header to the accumulator, and then complete the storage proof computation.
The on-chain accumulator essentially accumulates proofs, creating a rolling compilation of prior proofs. This process dramatically reduces the time required to verify the Ethereum blockchain and associated data, regardless of the point in the network’s history. Marcello Bardus, the chief technology officer of Herodotus, emphasizes that this technology eliminates the need to traverse the entire blockchain on the blockchain itself, thereby improving efficiency.
StarkWare highlights the potential of storage proofs as a pioneering alternative to cross-chain bridges that traditionally rely on third-party oracles for tracking and verifying data. Kacper Koziol, co-founder of Herodotus, further emphasizes that the accumulator represents a crucial innovation that aligns Ethereum with the principles of transparency and accessibility inherent to blockchain. This breakthrough technology will empower users to access any point in Ethereum’s history, marking a groundbreaking development.
Both teams underscore the potential for storage proofs to facilitate the development of Web2 equivalent applications, enabling autonomous access and verification of Ethereum blockchain data. One example of such an application is account recovery, where the ability to verify on-chain data could trigger automatic processes such as a proverbial dead man’s switch or insurance protocols that execute smart contract payouts based on historical on-chain events.
In summary, the introduction of zero-knowledge proof technology, specifically the on-chain accumulator utilizing storage-proof cryptography, represents a significant advancement for the Ethereum blockchain. By leveraging the power of recursive proofs, this innovative approach improves the network’s scalability and accessibility, enabling users to independently verify historical data at any point in Ethereum’s history. The potential applications of this technology are vast, creating opportunities for the development of Web2 equivalent applications and the automation of processes tied to on-chain events. With this innovation, Ethereum is poised to strengthen its position as a leading blockchain platform.