Mina Protocol — A Succinct Blockchain

  • The first cryptocurrency with a succinct blockchain.
  • Blockchain compressed from 100s of GBs (as seen in existing protocols) down to kBs in size.
  • Scalable, secure, and decentralized.
  • Allows for verification of the blockchain on a mobile phone.
hack.summit(“blockchain”) 2018 — Izaak Meckler — co-founder and CTO, Mina Protocol
The growth rate of the Bitcoin blockchain in megabytes from ‘09–’18. (https://www.blockchain.com/en/charts/blocks-size?timespan=all)

Preface

  • Resource requirements & complexity of running a full node discourages end users to do so.
  • It is intensive to run a full node on a computer, impossible on a mobile phone.
  • Easier to trust third parties to complete this validation.

Introduction To Mina

#243 Izaak Meckler & Evan Shapiro: Coda — A Succinct Blockchain — Epicenter
  • Utilization of zk-SNARKs — effectively compressing blocks into a single proof or certificate.
  • End-users check this proof instead of checking the entire transaction history of a block.
  • Recursive composition of these SNARKs/certificates— enabling a constant sized blockchain.

How Mina Works

zk-SNARKs in Mina

  • Transactions are signed.
  • They are valid.
  • Consensus rules (total hash power + chain strength for PoW, and the Variable Random Function/other rules for PoS).
a SNARK processor creating a SNARK/certificate of validity for a block which could be passed on as a proof, without including all of the transactions.

Replacing each block with a SNARK isn’t a complete solution.

How can we fix this?

Multiple certificates/SNARKs, each verified by an end-user.

A Recursive Composition of SNARKs in Mina

Multiple certificates/SNARKs placed into a single certificate/SNARK.

To simplify this idea, let’s say you have:

  • One certificate stating you can go from Block 0 to Block 2.
  • An additional certificate stating you can go from Block 2 to Block 4.

A validating node in Mina will comprise of:

End-user verifying a SNARK of the current state which includes all past certificates, as well as a merkle path. All of this comes together allowing a user to validate their balance.

Applications, Decentralization, and Scalability

Applications

Decentralization

Scalability

Takeaway

  • No need to delegate trust to those willing to keep up with the requirements to operate a full node — as is the case in traditional blockchains.
  • Obtain full node level security on virtually any device by downloading a single SNARK which acts as a certificate for the entire blockchain & a tail-end merkle path.
  • Using a recursive composition of SNARKs, the blockchain size is able to remain ~20kB.
  • Having a broad network of validating nodes increases decentralization as more end users are equipped to participate in network verification.

Bonus Thought:

From ZCon0 Presentation — Izaak Meckler — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCVACpgQSjo

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