Episode 172: ZK languages with Alex Ozdemir

In this week’s episode, Anna has a one-on-one chat with Alex Ozdemir, a PhD student at Stanford researching formal methods, cryptography and distributed systems. Alex’s work is closely tied to the world of generalized computations within zero knowledge systems. He is one of the main developers of CirC, an infrastructure framework for building zero knowledge languages.

In their conversation, Alex and Anna take a bird’s eye view of the current landscape of zk languages and libraries. Alex explains the history and current state-of-the-art of circuit-building tools, touching on libraries like Libsnark, Bellman and more comprehensive tools like Arkworks; hardware description languages like Circom; and the more dev-friendly family of RAM-register languages like ZoKrates, Pequin, Cairo, Leo and many more. Here, the race is still on as a number of academic and business-oriented teams grapple with limitations to memory access & performance given by zero knowledge proving systems.


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Thanks to this week’s sponsor, Mina Protocol.

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Previous Episodes

Episode 248: Revisiting FHE with Rand Hindi from Zama

In this week’s episode, Anna revisits the topic of FHE with Rand Hindi, CEO at Zama. They cover the FHE landscape, what specific use cases it is ideal for, where the technology is at and how FHE differs from MPC and ZK. They explore some of the nuances of the different types of approaches to FHE to achieve this cryptographic environment where one can do computation in a truly private manner.

Episode 247: Exploring Penumbra with Henry de Valence

In this week’s episode, Anna and Guillermo catch up with Henry de Valence from Penumbra. They discuss his thoughts on requirements for adoption of privacy systems and how these led to him to develop Penumbra. They explore how Penumbra aims to use privacy features not as ‘nice to haves’ within the system, but rather as essential components that offer a new paradigm for how to think about DeFi in a Multichain Ecosystem.

Episode 246: Adversarial Machine Learning Research with Florian Tramèr

This week, Anna and Tarun chat with Florian Tramèr, Assistant Professor at ETH Zurich. They discuss his earlier work on side channel attacks on privacy blockchains, as well as his academic focus on Machine Learning (ML) and adversarial research. They define some key ML terms, tease out some of the nuances of ML training and models, chat zkML and other privacy environments where ML can be trained, and look at why the security around ML will be important as these models become increasingly used in production.

Episode 245: Sanctions against Tornado Cash: a Legal Perspective

In this episode, Anna explores the topic of the recent OFAC sanctions against Tornado Cash with 2 interviews: One with TuongVy Le, Head of Regulatory and Policy at Bain Capital Crypto, who previously worked at the SEC and the other with Michael Mosier, General Council at Espresso Systems, who used to work at the Treasury within FinCen and at OFAC itself.

Episode 244: Journey to Blockchain with David Tse

In this episode, Anna and Guillermo chat with David Tse about his career and research spanning from early Networking, Mobile Networking, P2P, all the way up to his work on formalizing Blockchain systems.

Along the way, they touch on topics like David’s paper ‘The Price of Anarchy’, the Prism work, his work with the Ethereum Foundation and his new project Babylon.

Episode 243: Dive Back into MEV with Alex Stokes and Chris Hager

In this week’s episode, Anna and Tarun revisit the topic of MEV with Chris Hager from Flashbots & Alex Stokes from the EF. In this episode, they tease out more of the nuances around MEV, what the MEV space could look like after the Merge, the PBS (Proposer Builder Separation) concept, what each role in the MEV landscape will do and the MEV-Boost architecture. They also chat about using cryptographic solutions to prevent some kinds of MEV and some recent work that Tarun released on the topic of MEV, as well as future ideas around MEV aim to democratize or even share the searchers rewards.

Episode 242: Halo 2 with Daira Hopwood and Str4d

In this week’s episode, Anna explores Halo 2 with Daira Hopwood and Str4d, cryptographic engineers at Electric Coin Company. They explored what new ideas Halo introduced and how Halo 2 built on these ideas, adding optimisations such as adding Plonk-ish arithmetization to take what was a breakthrough to a production ready proving system.

Episode 241: Deconstructing Bridges with Vaibhav Chellani

In this week’s episode, Anna chats with Vaibhav Chellani, a bridge builder and the co-founder of Socket. They explore what makes up the components of a bridge, the types of bridges, and then look at their framework for analysing the security trade-offs of different bridge architectures. This is an important topic, since at present, there are more and more bridges coming online to connect all the different chains together. And with these come a number of new bugs, hacks and exploits. This episode gives us an overview on how to think about bridges.

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