Zero-knowledge proofs: New prospects, constructions and applications in the blockchain era

Location: CSA Seminar Hall (Room No. 254, First Floor)

Speaker : Dr Chaya Ganesh,
Aarhus University

Title : Zero-knowledge proofs: New prospects, constructions and applications in the blockchain era

Date : Thursday, March 14, 2019

Time : 10:00 AM

Venue : CSA Seminar Hall (Room No. 254, First Floor)


The advent of blockchain technology holds potential and promise to offer a real-world distributed ledger system with several prospective applications. This growth is enabled by advances in cryptography that have seen developments from theoretical aspects to deployment. However, the primary obstacle to widespread adoption of blockchain technology is the concerns about privacy. This talk is motivated by key cryptographic techniques in blockchain protocols: 1. Proof systems, and 2. Decentralized consensus protocols.

Proof systems like zero-knowledge proofs, that have been studied in cryptography are now necessary in blockchain protocols to achieve properties like verifiability and auditability without violating privacy. Consensus, a classical problem in distributed systems, is now being re-envisioned in novel large scale settings.

In this talk, I will present work that brings together the above two foundational aspects of blockchain technology: I will begin by introducing a key privacy and trust issue on the blockchain: How do we ensure that banks that store bitcoins are solvent — that they actually are holding as many bitcoins as they have promised to their clients. I will present an approach that applies cryptography to provide guarantees like above, and in general show that an authority is behaving correctly in a privacy-preserving manner. Then, we will focus on the issue of consensus itself of the blockchain, discuss privacy concerns in the proof-of-stake approach to consensus and describe how to construct protocols that enable privacy-preserving proof-of-stake.

Biography of the speaker

Chaya Ganesh is a post-doctoral researcher in the Crypto group at Aarhus University. She graduated from the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University in 2017 under the supervision of Prof. Yevgeniy Dodis. Chaya has worked on zero knowledge proofs, secure computation and consensus protocols during her doctoral studies. She maintains broad interest in Cryptography and is currently working on efficient proof systems and blockchain style consensus protocols. Chaya was awarded a research grant by the Protocol Labs research program, and was recognised as one of the EECS Rising Stars in 2018. She was awarded the Henry MacCracken Fellowship by NYU during her doctoral studies. She maintains active collaboration with research in the industry and has interned at Microsoft Research, Bell Labs, and Visa Research during her PhD.

She is currently serving as a scientific advisor to the Blockchain startup Concordium.

Host Faculty : Prof. Matthew Jacob


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