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Understanding zk-SNARK vs zkSTARK

Understanding zk-SNARK vs zkSTARK

In today’s digital world, privacy is a hot topic. Individuals are increasingly concerned about keeping their data safe from prying eyes, from financial transactions to personal communications. This concern has led to the development of various privacy-preserving technologies, including zero-knowledge proofs like zk-SNARK and zkSTARK. But what exactly are these technologies, and how do they differ? Let’s dive in and explore the world of zk-SNARK vs zkSTARK.

What Are Zero-Knowledge Proofs?

Before we delve into zk-SNARK and zkSTARK, let’s first understand what zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs) are. At their core, ZKPs are cryptographic protocols that allow one party, the prover, to prove to another party, the verifier, that a statement is true without revealing any additional information beyond the validity of the statement itself.

Imagine Alice wanting to prove to Bob that she knows a secret password without actually revealing the password. Zero-knowledge proofs enable Alice to convince Bob of her knowledge without disclosing the password itself. This concept forms the foundation of zk-SNARK and zkSTARK.

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zk-SNARK: Succinct Non-Interactive Argument of Knowledge

zk-SNARK, which stands for “Zero-Knowledge Succinct Non-Interactive Argument of Knowledge,” is a type of zero-knowledge proof that allows one party to prove the validity of a statement to another party without revealing any information about the statement itself. The term “succinct” emphasizes the efficiency of zk-SNARKs in generating compact proofs.

How zk-SNARK Works

In zk-SNARK protocols, the prover generates a succinct proof attesting to the validity of a statement without revealing any underlying information. This proof can then be verified by a verifier who possesses the necessary verification key. Notably, zk-SNARKs are non-interactive, meaning the prover and verifier do not need to engage in a back-and-forth communication process.

Components of zk-SNARK

  1. Public Parameters: These are generated during a setup phase and are made public. They include cryptographic keys and other parameters necessary for generating and verifying proofs.
  2. Prover: The entity seeking to prove the validity of a statement.
  3. Verifier: The entity seeking to verify the validity of the proof provided by the prover.

Applications of zk-SNARK

zk-SNARK has applications in various domains, including:

  • Blockchain Technology: zk-SNARK enables privacy and scalability in blockchain networks by allowing transactions to be verified without revealing sensitive information.
  • Privacy-Preserving Authentication: zk-SNARK can be used in authentication protocols to verify identities without disclosing sensitive user information.
  • Data Privacy: zk-SNARK enables data privacy by allowing computations on encrypted data without revealing the underlying data itself.

zkSTARK: Zero-Knowledge Scalable Transparent Arguments of Knowledge

On the other hand, zkSTARK, which stands for “Zero-Knowledge Scalable Transparent Arguments of Knowledge,” is another type of zero-knowledge proof. Similar to zk-SNARK, zkSTARK allows one party to prove the validity of a statement to another party without revealing any additional information.

How zkSTARK Works

Unlike zk-SNARK, zkSTARK is designed to be transparent and scalable. This means that zkSTARK proofs are more accessible to verify, and the generation of proofs is less computationally intensive compared to zk-SNARK.

Components of zkSTARK

  1. Public Parameters: Similar to zk-SNARK, zkSTARK too relies on public parameters generated during a setup phase.
  2. Prover: The entity generating the proof of validity for a given statement.
  3. Verifier: The entity verifying the validity of the proof provided by the prover.

Advantages of zkSTARK

  • Transparency: zkSTARK proofs are transparent, meaning anyone can verify them without the need for specialized knowledge or tools.
  • Scalability: zkSTARK is designed to be highly scalable, allowing for efficient generation and verification of proofs even for complex statements.

Applications of zkSTARK

  • Blockchain Technology: Similar to zk-SNARK, zkSTARK can be used in blockchain networks to enable privacy and scalability.
  • Decentralized Finance (DeFi): zkSTARK can be applied in decentralized finance applications to ensure privacy and security in financial transactions.
  • Data Integrity: zkSTARK can be used to prove the integrity of data without revealing the data itself, making it useful in applications where data privacy is paramount.

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While both zk-SNARK and zkSTARK are zero-knowledge proofs designed to preserve privacy and security, they differ in several aspects:

EfficiencyKnown for compact proofs, suitable for resource-constrained environmentsDesigned to be transparent and scalable, prioritizing ease of verification
TransparencyRequires specialized expertise for verificationAnyone can verify the validity of a proof without specialized knowledge or tools
ScalabilityAims for scalabilitySpecifically designed with scalability in mind, it is suitable for applications requiring efficient generation and verification of proofs.


In conclusion, zk-SNARK and zkSTARK are two types of zero-knowledge proofs designed to preserve privacy and security in digital transactions and communications. While zk-SNARK is known for its efficiency and compactness, zkSTARK prioritizes transparency and scalability. Both technologies have applications in blockchain, finance, and data privacy, offering solutions to the growing need for privacy-preserving technologies in our digital world. Understanding zk-SNARK vs zkSTARK is crucial for leveraging their strengths effectively in various applications.

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