Polygon Unveils Miden, an Advanced zk-STARKs - based Scaling Solution

Polygon Miden will enhance Polygon’s scalability, security and privacy by using STARKs, advanced zero-knowledge cryptography to compress transactions and verify them on Ethereum.

Dubai — November 16, 2021 9:30AM ET —
Polygon, an Ethereum scaling platform onboarding millions to Web3, today announces the launch of Polygon Miden, a STARK-based, EVM-compatible scaling solution, as well as the early prototype release of its core component, the Miden Virtual Machine. The project is led by former Facebook’s Core ZK Researcher who previously led the development of Winterfell.

Polygon recently announced their strategic focus on Zero Knowledge (ZK)-based technologies and committed to invest $1 billion in this field. Polygon Miden is their third major announcement in this regard, following the recent acquisition of Hermez Network (now Polygon Hermez) and the announcement of Polygon Nightfall, a privacy-focused rollup built in collaboration with EY.

Polygon Miden is a STARK-based ZK Rollup. ZK Rollups improve scalability and lower transaction fees, but currently it's hard for them to support arbitrary logic and transactions, such as those that are happening on Ethereum. Polygon Miden will solve this challenge, thereby addressing one of the biggest drawbacks of ZK rollups today, using its core component - Miden Virtual Machine (VM).

Miden VM is the first fully open-source STARK-based virtual machine. It supports arbitrary logic and transactions and has one important additional feature - for any program executed on the VM a small cryptographic proof of correctness is automatically generated. This proof can then be used by anyone to verify that the program was executed correctly, without the need for re-executing the program or even knowing what the program was. With Miden VM, it becomes feasible to build a ZK Rollup that can execute any transaction and program, including those currently living on Ethereum.

Today Polygon is announcing the first version of Miden VM, a prototype targeted toward early adopters. In the coming months the plan is to significantly expand the feature set of the VM and develop it into a production-grade ZK virtual machine with a unique set of characteristics, such as multi-language support and built-in privacy.

Miden VM itself is an evolution of Distaff VM, the first practical STARK-based virtual machine. It improves on Distaff by replacing the underlying proving system with Winterfell, a highly-performant STARK prover developed at Facebook’s Novi.

The core developer of both Distaff VM and Winterfell, Bobbin Threadbare1, is joining Polygon and will be leading the development of Polygon Miden.

Threadbare said: “Polygon's addition of the Miden Virtual Machine represents an important stepping stone in helping to overcome some of the technical challenges of being able to rely on cryptographic proofs of computational integrity. I’m looking forward to helping to facilitate the open source implementation of STARKs within the Polygon ecosystem and wider security and privacy communities.”

Sandeep Nailwal, co-founder of Polygon, said: “ZK is the way ahead for Ethereum and Miden VM is one of the most important elements in Polygon’s roadmap for Ethereum scalability. We believe it will significantly contribute to the advancement of Polygon and Ethereum infrastructure, thus accelerating mass adoption of these technologies.." 

Polygon will continue active work on Polygon Miden and its other ZK-based efforts, as well as active investing in this field, with the ultimate goal of becoming the industry’s leading ZK powerhouse. 

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