Blockchain technology has seen a significant advancement with the introduction of zero-knowledge proofs. However, in order to fully unlock the potential of these protocols, streamlined data availability solutions are required. Anurag Arjun, co-founder of Polygon and blockchain data availability protocol Avail, emphasized the significance of data availability for ZK-rollups in an interview with Cointelegraph.
ZK-rollups are a scaling solution for blockchain networks that operate on a layer-2. They allow transactions to be batched and submitted to a layer-1 blockchain with cryptographic proof. ZK-proofs aim to provide faster and more efficient transaction processing while maintaining the security of a blockchain system.
As the Ethereum blockchain continues with its roadmap following the shift to proof-of-stake after the merge, data availability is set to become an important factor in an increasing dependence on rollup scaling protocols for transaction batching and verification.
Arjun, who is leading the growth of Avail following the platform’s spin-off from Polygon Labs, stated that the blockchain protocols of the future will have to optimize data availability for proofs, verifications, and settlements rather than execution. He further explained that if the execution is being scaled by layer-2s or rollups, the base layer then does not have to worry about execution. They can now optimize on things that they are used for, which is data availability.
According to Arjun, ZK-proofs are under-appreciated, as they have removed the need for crypto-economic assumptions in blockchain systems. This change in the landscape means that there is no longer a requirement for heavy execution engines or validator run systems because ZKs provide absolute execution proof guarantee. The only other thing required is data availability.
The importance of data availability for ZK-proofs is tied to the nature of the technology, which essentially provides proof of a transaction or network state without revealing the data itself. As Arjun explained, rollups face two primary costs in submitting transaction data and proof data, with up to 70% of today’s costs spent on storing transaction data on Ethereum. Transaction data submission costs and proof verification costs could be reduced significantly by using a base-layer data availability protocol.
Providing a protocol that handles data availability also addresses the current costs associated with submitting ZK-rollups and Optimistic Rollups to the Ethereum blockchain. Arjun added that proofs and data go hand in hand, despite the fact that ZKs provide verifiable mathematical proofs or “absolute execution proof guarantee” on-chain without revealing data or the data needing to be verified.
The transition towards more modular setups, like that of Avail, is essential in moving away from a monolithic blockchain architecture and towards a setup that provides infrastructure for ZK-rollups and other off-chain scaling solutions. Data availability solutions will be key in unlocking the full potential of zero-knowledge proofs, allowing for faster and more efficient transaction processing while maintaining the security of a blockchain system.