StarkWare: Transparent Computational Integrity with Eli Ben Sasson

Computational integrity is a property that is required for financial transactions on the Internet. Computational integrity means that the output of a certain computation is correct.

If I deposit money into my bank, my bank sends me a number that represents the new balance in my account. I assume that the number they have sent me is correct. The bank could be lying to me–maybe this bank is not actually trustworthy. But I use a bank with a good reputation. If the bank stole money from its users, it would quickly go out of business. Therefore, I feel safe by trusting a bank with my money, because the bank needs to maintain its reputation.

The problem with reputation-based systems is that they are opaque. It’s not easy for us to audit the bank and prove the bank actually has the money that it claims to have. Most of the time, the reputation-based systems work fine. But occasionally, we have catastrophic events–think of the 2008 financial crisis, or the Bernie Madoff financial scandal.

These circumstances would have been avoided if the financial institutions could have been continuously audited for their solvency.

With blockchains and cryptocurrencies, we now have tools that allow us to maintain computational integrity without the opaque systems of reputation. We no longer have to trust a central authority–we can verify computational integrity with math.

Eli Ben-Sasson is a co-founder and chief scientist at StarkWare Industries, a company that is bringing zero-trust technology to market. Implementations of zero-trust technology include zk-STARKs, zk-SNARKs, and bulletproofs. StarkWare is focused on the application of zk-STARKs, which can be used to improve scalability and privacy.

Eli joins the show to discuss the topic of computational integrity, and how STARKs can be used to provide scalable, secure infrastructure to blockchain applications.


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