Leading the ZK Innovation: Telos Network's Vision for a Scalable Blockchain Future

January 27, 2024
min read

In the evolving landscape of blockchain technology, Telos Network stands at the forefront of addressing some of the most pressing challenges faced by blockchain systems today. This article delves into the innovative ways Telos is leveraging zkSNARKs, a cutting-edge cryptographic method, to enhance users' data privacy and scalability. These advancements are not only pivotal in overcoming the inherent limitations of traditional blockchain systems but also crucial in broadening the scope of blockchain applications in real-world scenarios.

As you probably know, zkSNARKs can be used for their privacy-preserving aspect to prove statements about certain data while keeping the data itself private. For example, one could prove ownership of a specific amount of funds without revealing the addresses of those funds. Another example is proving one's age is over a certain threshold without disclosing any other data related to their identity.

As you might guess, this feature can be used to overcome one of the primary limitations of traditional blockchain systems: the necessity for data to be publicly available on the chain to satisfy application logic. For instance, in our previous scenario, to prove ownership of a certain amount of funds, one would need to share on the chain the addresses they own, some signatures proving their ownership of these addresses, and then perform all the necessary checks and computations to calculate the final balance on the chain.

By using zkSNARKs, the users no longer need to share their data because they can cryptographically prove statements about their data while keeping it private. They then share the proof, which is verified on the chain. This allows, for example, a smart contract running on the chain to verify statements about users’ data without the users having to make their data public. Integrating such capabilities enables many use cases that would have been impossible to implement on public blockchains for privacy reasons.

Another important application of zkSNARKs/STARKs is related to scalability. As partially mentioned above, in a more general sense, the SNARK proof can be seen as a succinct proof of computation. For example, if the computation involves the execution of a VM (virtual machine), it is possible to generate a succinct proof of the VM's execution, including an Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). Zero-Knowledge Virtual Machines follow this approach, for instance, to enable the creation of trustless rollups leveraging zkSNARKs to prove statements to the Layer 1 chain about the rollup. With such an approach, and more generally with succinctly fully proven chains, it’s possible to offload computation from the main chain to parallel zkEVM instances and sidechains leveraging zkSNARKs and STARKs. This enables fully trustless, secure, and cryptographically proven communication channels.

Last but not least, there is growing interest in projects that combine Artificial Intelligence (AI) with zkSNARKs. For example, it's possible to generate a ZK proof that a Machine Learning (ML) model was run and, given some inputs, produced certain outputs. This can be used for various reasons, one of which is offloading heavy AI computation off-chain while using the results on-chain in a trustless manner. Another advantage is the ability to keep input data private while still being able to prove the output of the execution.

As you can see, ZK-related technologies are increasingly becoming fundamental for the adoption of blockchain by real-world applications, leveraging ZK proofs for various needs as discussed earlier.

In such a scenario, it becomes necessary to design a system that can support an increasing number of transactions using ZK proofs to be verified on-chain. For example, multiple concurrent users could submit their transactions, interacting with smart contracts featuring privacy-preserving functions, and multiple rollups or ZK bridges could post their communication proofs on the main chain. In this context, it's immediately evident that, even with proving systems with the fastest verification time, the straightforward approach of including all transactions along with their proofs in the block, and having each node verify all the proofs, quickly reaches the limits of block time and/or space budget, especially on high-throughput chains like Telos.

For these reasons, we have been working on the design of a novel decentralized protocol that will integrate into Telos Network’s ZK technology in a highly scalable manner. This will enable data privacy for smart contracts, AI-based applications, and scalability through Zero Knowledge virtual machines and sidechains. By addressing critical issues such as data privacy, transaction efficiency, and scalability, Telos is not just advancing its own infrastructure but also setting a benchmark in the broader blockchain landscape. 

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About The Telos Foundation
Telos is a growing network of networks (Layer 0) enabling Zero Knowledge technology for ultimate scalability and privacy to support all industries and applications. The expanding Telos ecosystem includes over 1.2 million accounts, hundreds of partners, and numerous dApps. Launched in 2018 Telos is known for its impeccable five-year record of zero downtime and is home to the worlds fastest Ethereum Virtual Machine, the Telos EVM. Telos is positioned to lead enterprise adoption into the world of borderless Web3 technology and decentralized solutions.