In Season 4 of Optimism Governance, the community rallied around Collective Intents, where teams work on tightly scoped, specific initiatives known as Missions. As part of this process, the Optimism Foundation set forth Missions for critical areas of growth and development within the Collective.
A key part of building towards the Technical Decentralization Intent is implementing a Zero Knowledge Proof (ZKP) for the OP Stack. For OP Chains in the Superchain, this is an important ingredient to further secure and add low latency cross chain communication between L2 and L1, as well as directly between OP Chains. This system supports both high and low latency options, which is necessary for achieving full composability and unlocking new use cases, and contributing to overall scalability. A ZKP for a well-supported instruction set architecture (ISA) that can prove the OP Stack fault proof program acts as the foundation for a system that can prove any OP Stack-based blockchain.
The explosion of activity on L2s underscores how deeply crypto users value low fees and high performance, and two teams submitted approaches that stood out to help achieve this for users. As a result, proposals from RISC Zero and O(1) Labs were accepted to work on the Mission.
RISC Zero envisions a world where ZK Proofs are accessible to everyone, and developers can prove and verify any computation through RISC Zero’s general purpose ZK Virtual Machine. To realize this vision, the team is committed to an open source stack that removes barriers that once plagued ZK and always prioritizes hands-on engagement with ZKPs. At the heart of this is RISC-V zkVM, which enables developers to write their programs in native Rust and abstracts away the cryptographic complexities of ZKPs.
RISC Zero saw alignment with OP Stack’s commitment to a shared and open source future. ZKPs will enable the next paradigm of the OP Stack by creating a connected and highly interoperable Superchain. Withdrawals, bridging, and Superchain governance are all areas where RISC Zero sees their ZKPs dramatically improving the experience of users and developers.
RISC Zero is building a Rust-based ZK Validity Proof System for the OP Stack. To do this, they are combining the RISC-V zkVM with the Ethereum/Rust ecosystem through projects such as reth, revm, alloy, and op-reth. Their ZK Validity Proof System is being built on top of Zeth, a fully open source “type 0” zkEVM framework, which enables anyone to prove validity of Optimism and Ethereum blocks.
Support for OP Mainnet has already been added to Zeth. Currently RISC Zero is extending this to include the “L1 -> L2 derivation” process, which will allow Zeth to prove that new OP blocks are consistent with the OP transaction sequencer. Once that’s complete, additional features will be added to allow entire OP epochs to be “rolled up” into a single proof that can be verified on the L1 using RISC Zero’s existing support for onchain proof verification.
O(1) Lab aims to catalyze a new generation of applications powered by zero knowledge cryptography by creating the foundations and tools for developers to build ZK applications. This includes designing and implementing the zkApp model for the Mina protocol, the first ZK-native blockchain, o1js, a Typescript library and embedded DSL for zk-powered applications, and Kimchi+Pickles, a proof system and recursion library.
Now work on a MIPS zkVM will bring the power of zero-knowledge to the OP Stack. This is the first step on the road to eliminating the seven day withdrawal window, which improves the user experience and enhances the chain’s “trustlessness.” This work also brings the Mina Protocol and OP Stack closer together, opening a pathway for applications built on the OP Stack to interact with the Mina Protocol.
O(1)’s PLONKish proof system, Kimchi and the Pickles recursion layer, provide the base of the solution, a version of which has secured the Mina blockchain since 2021. The bulk of the work optimizes some low-level primitives for Ethereum, adding support for kzg-bn128 for efficient Ethereum verification, and then optimization and integration with the OP chain’s pre-image hash.
Both RISC Zero and O(1) Labs have committed to providing regular progress updates. The community can follow along on the Mission’s GitHub page and follow RISC Zero and O(1) Labs on Twitter. It is exciting to have two incredible teams with two unique approaches working towards achieving a Mission that will have a tremendous impact on the Optimism ecosystem.
If you’re eager for more info, RISC Zero and O(1) Labs will be leading a workshop on bringing ZK proofs to the OP Stack as a part of Optimism’s Onchain Summit at Devconnect in Istanbul! Follow us on Twitter for updates about Optimism’s Devconnect programming.