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Proof Market


A proof market is a decentralized marketplace where users can buy and sell cryptographic proofs to verify ownership.

What Is a Proof Market? 

A proof market is a decentralized marketplace where users can buy and sell cryptographic proofs to verify the ownership of digital assets, the validity of a particular transaction and the authenticity of a piece of information or computation results. The buyer can then use the proofs to verify a statement or fact without having to independently verify it themselves. 

Why Is a Proof Market Needed?

To understand why proof markets are needed, the concept of Zero Knowledge Proofs (ZK Proofs) needs to be understood. Zk proofs are paving the way forward for a more secure and privacy-focused future. However, one of the biggest challenges to widespread adoption is the time-consuming computation required to generate these proofs due to the complexity and heavy computations. 

These generators require significant investment to maintain and build up their infrastructure to keep up with generating complex proofs.

Due to the costly nature of zk proofs, proof generation is generally only accessible to larger projects which may be better funded compared to smaller projects that are just starting up. This could lead to a high reliance on multiple large players and limit the widespread adoption of the technology by the developers' community. A proof market enables anyone to post a request with their stated price for a proof, and any party can offer to fill this request. 

How Does a Proof Market Work?

A proof market hosts a marketplace for the proofs generated from zero-knowledge technology which enables a statement to be proven true or false without revealing any additional information beyond the fact. For example, a user might be interested to order a proof that can verify that they have a certain amount of funds in their DeFi wallet or that a particular computation with data has been executed correctly.

These proofs are supplied by proof generators as a commodity on a proof market that is subjected to the conventional mechanism of supply and demand. A generator will have to take into consideration the cost and time required to produce a proof efficiently that is competitive with the market. This induces competition between proof generators to produce proofs with the smallest latency and /or cheapest generation cost. 

To generate a zero-knowledge proof, the proof requestor will create an order for zk-proof over a predefined circuit. The proof market will match the order to proof generators and send the order to the selected generator which will execute computations. The proof generator will send the generated proof into the proof market for validation. Once the proof has been verified, the proof market will send the validated proof to the proof requestor. 

The Benefits of a Proof Market

  1. Cost savings: An easily accessible platform to buy pre-existing, high-quality proofs and conserve resources as opposed to investing in costly infrastructure for proof generators. 
  2. Wide variety of proofs: Proofs available on a proof market offer a range of different proofs to fit the needs of different proof systems with the assurance that the proofs being traded are of high quality. 
  3. Democratizing the production of ZK proofs: Projects, no matter the size, can now obtain high-quality proofs to build their protocols in a decentralized manner.
  4. Low technical knowledge needed: The proof market platform simplifies the process of generating and verifying cryptographic proofs for any developer to access them without the need for extensive technical expertise.
  5. Standardization of Proofs: Standardising zk proofs generation and verification across different applications and platforms not only helps facilitate interoperability but also the usability of zero-knowledge proofs in the blockchain industry.
  6. Open market data: Users are able to analyze and understand the profitability of each order and make assumptions based on earnings due to the real-time nature of data across multiple dashboards.

The Limitations of a Proof Market 

While a proof market has immense potential to enhance zero-knowledge technology, it is a new concept and may have some limitations. 

  1. Limited utility: The utility of a proof market is dependent on the specific use cases of cryptographic proofs, particularly on enhancing scalability, privacy and security in various blockchain applications. As these use cases extend, so will the availability of proofs on specific use cases grow. 
  2. Circuit development: To prove any computations with zk proofs, developers have to first come up with a proof definition for their code, otherwise known as circuits. In order to write a circuit, the user requires a deep knowledge of how a particular proof system works. 
  3. Proof generation economics: The infrastructure to generate high-quality proofs efficiently is expensive. In order for generators to see a return, there needs to be different avenues that require proofs for there to be enough demand to make proof generation economically viable. 

Other minor limitations may include potential scalability issues and regulatory compliance 

How Can a Proof Market Support the Adoption of Zero-Knowledge Technology?

Zk proofs are a vital component for projects to validate and authenticate their protocols and so, enabling greater access to high-quality proofs for projects of all sizes is necessary. The decentralized nature of a proof market ensures that transactions are secure, transparent and free from central control or manipulation. By providing a user-friendly and accessible platform for buying and selling cryptographic proofs, a proof market can help to democratize access to this technology and drive wider adoption in the blockchain industry. 

Contributor: Mikhail Komarov, founder of =nil; Foundation.

Mikhail is a leading developer of infrastructure for effective zero-knowledge proof (ZKP) generation. Mikhail is a researcher and developer in the fields of cryptography and database management systems (DBMS). His journey in technology began in 2013 when he began contributing to BitMessage, a peer-to-peer encrypted communications protocol. He then worked with the blockchain network BitShares, and Steemit, the first application built on the Steem blockchain. Mikhail worked on a fork of Steem from 2017 to 2018, before founding =nil; Foundation in April 2018