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Zero Knowledge on Casper

· 5 min read

In this post, I present how to verify a zero knowledge proof on Casper.

Zero Knowledge

In my opinion, the zero knowledge (ZK) is the largest revolution in blockchains, since Ethereum introduced Turing-complete, account-based smart contracts. To put it in simple words, ZK enables two use cases not possible before:

  1. Computation scaling - I can perform expensive computation off-chain and put the result on a chain with the proof.
  2. Anonymity - I can prove to you, I know something without revealing it.

Risc Zero

I'd like to introduce you to Risc Zero. It is the general purpose zero-knowledge virtual machine. Go ahead and spend time reading their website! For us, the key component is the proof verifier that can be compiled into WASM. Sooo... we can run it on Casper :) Yes! We can prove any program, produce proof, and send it to Casper's smart contract for verification.


Let's dive into the example to see how it works. The full example code you can find on our GitHub. It is based on Risc Zero's Hello, Multiply! example. So make sure you understand it first. Guest and Prover sections are taken from this example.


The program we are proving is called a guest in Risc Zero. Our goal is to prove we know the factors of an arbitrary number. Given a and b below guest program computes a * b and produces a proof of computation.

pub fn main() {
// Load the first number from the host
let a: u64 = env::read();
// Load the second number from the host
let b: u64 = env::read();
// Verify that neither of them are 1 (i.e. nontrivial factors)
if a == 1 || b == 1 {
panic!("Trivial factors")
// Compute the product while being careful with integer overflow
let product = a.checked_mul(b).expect("Integer overflow");


It's time to run the guest program and build the proof for a specific a and b values.

fn main() {
// Pick two numbers.
let a: u64 = 17;
let b: u64 = 23;

// First, we make the prover, loading the 'multiply' method.
let multiply_src = std::fs::read(MULTIPLY_PATH)
.expect("Method code should be present at the specified path.");
let mut prover = Prover::new(&multiply_src, MULTIPLY_ID)
.expect("Prover should be constructed.",);

// Next we send a & b to the guest.

// Run prover & generate receipt
let receipt =
.expect("Valid code should be provable.");

// Extract journal of receipt (i.e. output c, where c = a * b)
let c: u64 = from_slice(&receipt.journal)
.expect("Journal output should deserialize.");

// Print an assertion
println!("I know the factors of {}, and I can prove it!", c);

// Verify receipt, panic if it's wrong.
"Code you have proven should successfully verify.",

// Convert journal to string and store on disk.
let journal = serde_json::to_string(&receipt.journal).unwrap();
write_to_file("../data/journal", &journal);

// Convert seal to string and store on disk.
let seal = serde_json::to_string(&receipt.seal).unwrap();
write_to_file("../data/seal", &seal);

// Convert method_id to string and store on disk.
let result = serde_json::to_string(MULTIPLY_ID).unwrap();
write_to_file("../data/method", &result);


Now the verification step. Given the proof (journal + seal) and the guest program definition (method), Casper's smart contract checks its correctness. This one is written just for the demonstration, but in general you want METHOD_ID to be stored in your contract and both SEAL and JOURNAL to be passed to the contract via arguments from the outside.

// Import the proof and the method.
const METHOD_ID: &[u8] = &include!("../../data/method");
const SEAL: &[u32] = &include!("../../data/seal");
const JOURNAL: &[u32] = &include!("../../data/journal");

// Verifier contract holds a result of the zk verification.
pub struct Verifier {
result: Variable<String>,

impl Verifier {
// Calling this entry point triggers the zk proof verification.
pub fn verify(&mut self) {
let result = verify(JOURNAL, SEAL, METHOD_ID);

// Result getter.
pub fn result(&self) -> String {
self.result.get().unwrap_or(String::from("Not processed"))

// The verification method. It constructs new Receipt and verifies it.
fn verify(journal: &[u32], seal: &[u32], method_id: &[u8]) -> String {
let result = Receipt::new(&journal, &seal).verify(method_id);

match result {
Ok(()) => String::from("Ok"),
Err(err) => format!("Error: {}", err.to_string())

Livenet results

I have deployed it to the testnet and called the verify method. The result was Ok. Wow, first-ever ZK proof verification on Casper. Trustless bridging, layer 2 here we come :)

The cost of running the verify method is 2324 CSPR. That's a lot, but we have to start somewhere.

What next

I think it is a good place to outline possible Casper ZK goals for moving this forward. The community should discuss:

  1. Building more examples. Risc Zero has a nice battleship game to port over to Casper.
  2. Adding Risc Zero verification method to Casper's FFI.
  3. Supporting Risc Zero team. We should help develop this awesome open-source project and gain the ZK expertise.

Join us

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