Polygon Zero April-May Roundup

Sometimes it feels like crypto moves a little too fast. There are lots of talks and events during which the space’s key players and teams unveil new innovations or perspectives. Instead of being written down, too much of this important information gets scattered across the crypto chatterverse. It can be hard to keep track of what’s going on. 

Consider this roundup series the Polygon Zero team’s attempt to freeze the frame and show you where we are. We want to keep you up-to-date on some of our higher-level thinking about the space as well as the specifics of what we’ve been working on. For now, this will take the form of aggregating recent public appearances by our team members. We hope you’ll listen to and/or watch all of these, but in the spirit of writing things down, we’ve done our best to summarize some key takeaways from each event.

March 2: Zero Knowledge Podcast, ft. Brendan and Daniel

Our two fearless leads finally made it onto Anna Rose’s Zero Knowledge Podcast, a major hub of ZK thought leadership. This was a wide-ranging conversation, and well worth a listen if you want to know how Polygon Zero became what it is today.

We begin with the story of how Brendan and Daniel met at an Ethereum event back in 2018 and how they developed a shared interest in ZK tech. We then move on to the beginning of building the team for Mir (which became Polygon Zero), and those early nerve-wracking days of realizing that unleashing the potential of ZK proofs would require innovations that hadn’t yet happened. 

Luckily for all of us, this chapter of our story has a happy ending: The development of Plonky2. Anna teases out what Brendan means when he says that Plonky2 is “Plonk + FRI + Wizardry” and what our teammate Hamish’s “Goldilocks Field” is and why it matters to ZKP performance. 

Things get philosophical later in this episode. How much does the line between STARKs and SNARKs matter in practical terms? Is Plonky2 a “Frankenstein”? Highly recommend this episode if you want to understand the broad sweep of what we’ve been working on and why we believe it matters.

Read more: Introducing Plonky2

March 8: Twitter Spaces hosted by Madhavan Malolan, ft. Brendan

Brendan stopped by a Twitter Spaces panel that also included Ben Jones from Optimism, Harry Kalodner from Arbitrum, and Avihu Levy from StarkWare. 

This panel opens with a nice overview of what we mean when we talk about rollups. Discussion also touches on why we need Layer 2 solutions to scale not only Ethereum, but blockchains in general. Brendan’s contributions center on the state of ZK scaling at the moment, and why we believe making proof generation more efficient has been the biggest and most important challenge within the space (hence Plonky2). There’s a lot of interesting back-and-forth in this one about the relationship between Ethereum and its various L2 solutions, as well as the broader challenge of blockchain scaling. 

Read more: ZK and the Future of Ethereum Scaling

March 15: ZK Hack Mini, ft. Brendan and William

For those who want to dive as deep as possible into Plonky2, this workshop for ZK Hack Mini (run by the same folks as the Zero Knowledge Podcast) is the place to go. Brendan opens by giving a high-level overview. Our team began by searching for new ways to build more performant SNARKs and STARKs. Hence the marriage of Plonk and FRI, which became Plonky2. It turns out that a major key was wrapping big ZK proofs in smaller proofs (our approach to recursion). 

As Brendan stresses in this presentation, dramatic accelerations in technical performance always lead to an explosion of new applications and use cases. If you’re the kind of person who might contribute to this growth by putting this tech to use directly, or if you’re simply curious about how that might be done, the rest of the presentation features William actually demonstrating the nuts and bolts of Plonky2.

ZK has a bright future. Join us on Github or tune in to our blog to learn more about zero-knowledge proofs. Let’s bring the world to Ethereum!

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