Zero-Knowledge with Public Keys

a Ph.D. Thesis by Leonid Reyzin
Thesis supervisor: Silvio Micali
Note: most (but not all) of results in this thesis are contained in Silvio Micali's and mine papers on Min-Round Resettable Zero-Knowledge in the Public-Key Model and Soundness in the Public-Key Model.

In STOC 2000, Canetti, Goldreich, Goldwasser, and Micali put forward the strongest notion of zero-knowledge to date, resettable zero-knowledge (RZK) and implemented it in constant rounds in a new model, where the verifier simply has a public key registered before any interaction with the prover. This work explores their new public-key model for zero-knowledge protocols.

First, it shows that the soundness notion in this model has not been sufficiently understood and is, in fact, more subtle and complex than in the classical model. It identifies four meaningful notions of soundness, and proves that they are distinct. Thus, protocol designers should understand the needs of the application in order to avoid designing protocols whose soundness is too weak (thus resulting in insecure protocols) or too strong (thus resulting in protocols that are less efficient than necessary).

Second, having precisely defined the model, this work proceeds to demonstrate that stronger notions of soundness require more rounds to implement. Specifically, it provides upper and lower bounds on the numbers of rounds needed to implement the various soundness notions.

Finally, to achieve both ultimate round efficiency and strong soundness, this work puts forward a slightly stronger model. Informally, as long as the honest verifier does not use a given public key more than a fixed-polynomial number of times, there exist 3-round (provably optimal) RZK protocols for all of NP that possess strong soundness. This is particularly surprising, because such 3-round protocols provably do not exist in the public-key model without such an upper bound.