Network

【Network Introduction】Aleo

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Network Detail

Aleo is the first platform to offer fully private applications, which achieves this (build a user experience on the web that is both truly personal and truly private) by leveraging decentralized systems and zero-knowledge cryptography to protect user data on the web. At its core, Aleo offers users and application developers unbounded compute with absolute privacy.

Brief Introduction

Aleo is the first platform for fully private applications, which uses blockchain and zero-knowledge cryptography to deliver a new web experience as it should be: one that is both personal and private. With Aleo, developers can write private applications even if they are not experts in blockchain or cryptography.

At its core, Aleo uses zero-knowledge proof (ZKPs), a cryptographic technique that proves a statement or fact without revealing what makes it true. Originally conceived of in the 1980s, ZK cryptography has become practical in the last decade, and is now being adopted by blockchain developers to achieve scalability, privacy, and interoperability for executing transactions off-chain in a manner that can be verified. While use cases for ZK are growing exponentially in popularity, until now they have mostly been applied to solving niche problems in blockchain. Aleo seeks to unlock the full potential of ZK as a breakthrough technology for the web.

Features

Aleo is built for the web. Unlike existing solutions that seek to replace it, Aleo is designed to integrate with it. For users, Aleo introduces new experiences that are both truly personal and truly private. And for developers, Aleo introduces a programming model that integrates with existing web applications.

To write private applications on Aleo intuitively and easily, the Aleo Team is developing a programming language called Leo. Leo looks and feels just like a traditional programming language. Yet under the hood, Leo is far more complex. Leo abstracts low-level cryptographic concepts and makes it easy to integrate private applications into your stack.

Furthermore, to jumpstart the development cycle, the Aleo team is building Aleo Studio as well, the first IDE for writing zero-knowledge applications. For developers, Aleo Studio is designed to simplify the development cycle. Under the hood, Aleo Studio connects to the network, making it easy to quickly test and publish transactions on the web.

By the way, to make it simple to bundle and share work, the Aleo team has built a package manager for Leo. Aleo Package Manager is the first package manager for zero-knowledge circuits. It includes collaborative features like teams and organizations to make it easy to work with friends and colleagues on private applications. In addition, Aleo Package Manager is integrated with Aleo Studio, making it easy to import and publish new packages without having to leave the editor.

Community

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Mission and Vision

The Aleo team wants to make Leo a new standard for writing private applications on the web, and believe that by providing the best toolkit and infrastructure for it, that application developers will help us integrate the technology and make private applications a part of every users’ web experience. Because, private data should be just that — private.

That’s why Aleo Team founded Aleo network — to address the paradox of asymmetry on public networks by accelerating the adoption of zero-knowledge into the blockchain ecosystem. Aleo’s specific zero knowledge solution, Zexe, supports complete programmability and privacy. Just as important, Aleo provides opt-out privacy, ensuring ultimate control lies with the user, who can choose what information they wish to be public. Aleo enables network participants to interact on a public network with complete privacy without sacrificing any degree of performance or power that decentralized networks enable.‍

Why Choose Aleo

  • Aleo is the first decentralized, open-source platform to enable both private and programmable applications. Through opt-out privacy by default, Aleo enables a sustainable, equitable Web3 world that can meet developer, consumer, and enterprise needs.
  • Aleo offers a full-stack solution for zero-knowledge, making ZK programmable at every level of the application stack for real-world use to enable decentralized private computing at scale.
  • Aleo’s platform provides end-to-end tools that enable the development, deployment, and sustainability of privacy-preserving applications. With Aleo, applications and user interactions are private-by-default. With this as the foundation, developers can reimagine web applications that are both fully private and totally personal. User privacy is a fundamental part of any Aleo application, eliminating concerns of trust and empowering users. Aleo’s unique architecture makes it more scalable than a traditional blockchain.

Company and Team

Aleo was originally conceived in 2016 as research into programmable zero-knowledge. The company was officially established in 2019 by Howard Wu, Michael Beller, Collin Chin, and Raymond Chu.

The team is composed of world-class cryptographers, engineers, designers, and operators that come from companies like Google, Amazon, and Facebook, and research universities such as UC Berkeley, Johns Hopkins, NYU, and Cornell.

Funds

Aleo Raises $28M to Build the Future of Private Applications.

The round was led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) with participation from Placeholder VC, Galaxy Digital, Variant Capital, and Coinbase Ventures. Other notable investors include Polychain Capital, Slow Ventures, Dekrypt Capital, Scalar Capital, a_capital, zkValidator, Balaji Srinivasan and Ethereal Ventures, a new venture fund established by Joseph Lubin.

Aleo Raises $200M in Series B to Expand Private-by-Default, Blockchain Platform

Investors in the latest round include Kora Management LP, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Tiger Global, Sea Capital, Samsung Ventures, Slow Ventures, and Andreessen Horowitz.

San Francisco — February 7, 2022 — Aleo, a leading platform for building private blockchain-based applications, has raised $200M in a Series B funding round led by Kora Management LP and SoftBank Vision Fund 2, with participation from Tiger Global, Sea Capital, Samsung Next, Slow Ventures, and Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), culminating in a valuation of the company at $1.45 billion. Following the company’s $28 million Series A, which was led by a16z in April of 2021, Aleo’s Series B represents the largest fundraising round ever in the zero-knowledge industry.

As the team works towards its impending mainnet launch, Aleo will use this latest funding to develop products and services that will help developers build an ecosystem on top of the decentralized network.

Technology

Zero Knowledge-An Evolution in Privacy

A zero knowledge proof is a cryptographic protocol where one party (the prover) proves to another party (the verifier) that something is true without revealing how it is true.

For example, people could prove to someone that they are immune to COVID without revealing how they are immune (antibodies through illness or vaccine) or when they became immune. The underlying cryptography ensures that neither the verifier nor any party observing the transaction learns any information at all about why the statement is true. Yet those same parties can be convinced even if they don’t trust the prover making the claim.

It turns out that proving the truth of something without revealing the information itself can be a powerful primitive. Zero knowledge allows people to use the internet more powerfully than people do today without leaving extractable traces of data everywhere. Think of each of us as a “prover” and any service on the internet as a verifier:

People could log in to Facebook by proving who we are without having to reveal our email, password, location, birthday, mother’s maiden name, or favorite pizza topping. People also could prove our credit score qualifies us for a loan without needing to initiate a hard inquiry that would hurt our credit score. What’s more, people could file insurance claims that can be reviewed, verified, and approved without needing to expose the rest of our insurance identity, which creates unethical reasons for claims to be denied.

People could prove relevant facts about ourselves and our identity to any application without fear that the information could be lost, stolen, or abused. This use case in particular is increasingly relevant as we anticipate a future where much of our biological data/genetic information is used to provide personalized medical care and services.

In 2019, the Aleo was established to accelerate the integration of zero knowledge into the internet of the future. Aleo’s specific zero knowledge solution — known as Zexe — ensures people don’t need to accept the performance tradeoff.

Programmable, Composable, and Private Applications

Aleo addresses this risk by applying privacy to the most fundamental components of any application — users and transactions. To state it simply: every application on a decentralized network is a series of users (people or smart contracts) transacting with one another in varying degrees of complexity. Any privacy solution, therefore, has to ensure both those atomic components of any application are private.

When people make a trade on a DEX in Aleo, they compute the updated account balances off-chain based on the exchange rate. This trade is finalized by submitting a zero knowledge proof as a transaction to the Aleo network, which indicates an action has occurred. The proof alone does not include any information about what the action was, on which exchange it was executed, or who was involved. Yet the underlying cryptography should convince all participants that the trade was executed and all balances updated correctly.

Aleo addresses this risk by applying privacy to the most fundamental components of any application — users and transactions. To state it simply: every application on a decentralized network is a series of users (people or smart contracts) transacting with one another in varying degrees of complexity. Any privacy solution, therefore, has to ensure both those atomic components of any application are private.

For a DEX, this means making counterparties anonymous. This means that a user’s activity cannot be tied to a particular address or account on the Aleo blockchain. By also hiding the details of any transaction, Aleo ensures that even broad contours or patterns of financial activity cannot leak any identifying information.

When people make a trade on a DEX in Aleo, they compute the updated account balances off-chain based on the exchange rate. This trade is finalized by submitting a zero knowledge proof as a transaction to the Aleo network, which indicates an action has occurred. The proof alone does not include any information about what the action was, on which exchange it was executed, or who was involved. Yet the underlying cryptography should convince all participants that the trade was executed and all balances updated correctly.

For example, let’s say a person wants to trade Token A for Token B on an Aleo-based DEX. First, he/she will need to prove to the DEX that he/she has enough of Token A in his/her possession to complete the transaction. But because this information can be shown through a zero knowledge proof, this does not mean revealing his/her wallet balance or trade history. Instead, he/she can reference an on-chain proof (a record) of a prior transaction to show that he/she has a sufficient balance to trade. In the process, the exchange never learns:

  • The amount of tokens his/her own,
  • where he/she got those tokens from,
  • if he/she has ever transacted on the DEX before.

Altogether, this creates a DEX ecosystem that is not only entirely private and scalable for users but also replicates a key feature of smart contract blockchains like Ethereum: composability.

The idea that applications can plug into each other in increasingly complex ways on an open platform is known as composability. Composability is a powerful concept that enables, among other things, Ethereum’s DeFi ecosystem. Although Aleo ensures full privacy, certain applications could leverage public sources of data (either published in a record alongside a proof, or off-chain) to make private smart contracts composable. This opt-out privacy model eliminates many of the cost-extracting consequences of transparent blockchains. And yet it empowers users to control when and how they interact with applications while only revealing what they choose to. Thus, Aleo enables applications that are programmable, composable, and private.

Set of Tools for Programmable Zero Knowledge

These tools will enable developers to build the next generation of smart contracts. Aleo can express powerful DeFi primitives like stablecoins or decentralized exchanges. Yet all transactions are totally private, putting the developer and user in control:

  • Leo — To write private applications on Aleo intuitively and easily, we have developed a programming language called Leo. Leo looks and feels just like a traditional programming language. Yet under the hood, Leo is far more complex. Leo abstracts low-level cryptographic concepts and makes it easy to integrate private applications into your stack. Leo introduces a high-level syntax that makes it easy to write and intuitive to express logic in zero knowledge. The Leo language was influenced by traditional programming languages like JavaScript, Scala, and Rust, with a strong emphasis on readability and ease-of-use. Under the hood, Leo converts a developer’s high-level code into zero knowledge circuits.
  • Aleo Studio — To jumpstart the development cycle, we have built Aleo Studio, the first IDE for writing zero knowledge applications. Aleo Studio is an interactive development environment for writing zero knowledge applications in Leo. For developers, Aleo Studio is designed to simplify the development cycle and make it easy to publish your Leo project as a package to the ecosystem.
  • Aleo Package Manager — To make it simple to bundle and share your work, we have built a package manager for Leo. Aleo Package Manager is the first package manager for zero knowledge circuits. It includes collaborative features like teams and organizations to make it easy to work with friends and colleagues on private applications. In addition, Aleo Package Manager is integrated with Aleo Studio, making it easy to import and publish new packages without having to leave the editor.
  • snarkOS — Aleo runs on a decentralized operating system for private applications called snarkOS. It forms the logical backbone for state transitions, and enables applications to verify and store state on the Aleo blockchain in a publicly verifiable manner. snarkOS enforces data availability guarantees on Aleo for all programs and transactions. Moreover, our consensus mechanism ensures verifiers compute zero knowledge proofs to checkpoint state on-chain.

zkCloud

zkCloud is an off-chain, trustless computing environment, where programs are executed privately, securely, and cheaply, and with unlimited runtime. With these features, zkCloud solves one of the most challenging problems facing blockchains to date: The Privacy Dilemma.

In a typical public blockchain, program execution happens on-chain in a global “virtual machine” (VM) run by every network node. This means that each node in the network must re-compute (and collectively agree on) each step of a given program. Not only is this inefficient, it reduces speed and increases costs for the end-user. And because this VM must have access to the relevant information, options for privacy are limited.

Through zkCloud, Aleo overcomes these limitations by separating the application runtime from the state maintained by the blockchain. Combined with the power of zero knowledge proofs, this allows Aleo to enable full programmability and privacy, as well as high transaction throughput relative to the model of an on-chain VM.

zkCloud is an off-chain, trustless execution environment where individual entities, or shielded identities, interact with one another through shielded transactions. These transactions, whether a simple P2P transfer or a complex financial application, hide the details of the interaction (i.e. the participants, the amounts, the smart contracts, etc.) via a recursive series of zero-knowledge proofs (described in Zexe). The outer proof is the final result of this process, and the only “evidence” that a transaction (or series of transactions, as in a complex application) ever took place in zkCloud.

Shielded transactions link zkCloud to the Aleo blockchain. They consume and create records on-chain to modify/update the state of a given application or program. Nodes (and other users) verify the zero-knowledge proofs within the shielded transactions and can be convinced of their veracity without learning the precise details.

People can visualize the interaction between zkCloud and the Aleo blockchain as objects casting “shadows.”

When people see a shadow, they know that something created that shadow, but it is hard to make out details or identify precisely what it is. Similarly, even though programs run on zkCloud with varying degrees of complexity, the only thing ever visible to the nodes on the Aleo network are “shadows” cast by the shielded transactions executed within zkCloud. Because zero-knowledge proofs reveal nothing about their contents, when these nodes (or other third parties) see a shielded transaction submitted to the chain, they can tell that something is happening. But they cannot determine anything specific about that interaction unless some data is deliberately revealed.

As a consequence of separating computation from state, zkCloud provides unlimited application runtime. Programs that run in zkCloud can take a second, a minute, a day; it doesn’t matter as long as the shielded transaction is submitted at the end of the computation. This opens up the door to a far greater variety of applications than are possible with an on-chain execution model like Ethereum, in which program runtime is limited by “gas.”

In addition, off-chain execution in zkCloud means greatly improved privacy for users interacting with applications. Since only proofs are submitted on-chain, it becomes technically impossible for anyone to see or exploit the knowledge of any transaction details. Furthermore, transaction throughput can be significantly higher, since Aleo nodes are only verifying proofs as opposed to running programs.

Even with these additional benefits, Aleo’s approach doesn’t compromise on security because the zero knowledge proofs that are part of a shielded transaction cryptographically guarantee correct program execution. This stands in contrast to other blockchains and many layer-2 solutions, which only provide crypto economic guarantees that a state transition occurred correctly. But in Aleo, a proof shows that a program either ran correctly or it didn’t run at all, removing the need for additional trust assumptions from the user or smart contract developer.

zkCloud is designed to help developers build private, scalable projects. By separating execution from state, and submitting only the proofs to the blockchain via shielded transactions, zkCloud enables Aleo to achieve the goal of a private, programmable, performant network.

Aleo Testnet 3

Launch Situation

Aleo launched Phase 1 of Aleo Testnet 3 on August 2.

25 million Aleo credits (ALEO) would be distributed across the Aleo community of developers, provers, and validators over 3 phases of Testnet 3.

Three Phases of Aleo Testnet 3

Aleo Testnet 3 will be released across three (3) phases to the community. The following is a summary of the highlights for each phase:

  • Phase 1 — Developers (August 2022)

Developers can start writing, deploying, and executing programs.

The Aleo team bootstraps the network with genesis beacons.

  • Phase 2 — Provers (September 2022)

provers start solving coinbase puzzles (PoSW) to earn credits.

The Aleo team kickstarts the bug bounty program for snarkOS and snarkVM.

  • Phase 3 — Validators (October 2022)

Validators start producing blocks and earning rewards.

provers with 1 million Aleo credits will be able to become validators.

The Aleo team will bootstrap the network for Phase 3 with AleoBFT.

Exciting Features to Come In Aleo Testnet 3

  • Deploying and executing programs on the Aleo Virtual Machine (AVM);
  • Proving coinbase puzzles (PoSW) to produce new credits;
  • Validating blocks and producing coinbase proofs with AleoBFT;
  • Batch proving and verifying on our Marlin + Plookup proof system;
  • Support for multi-signature wallets using FROST threshold signatures.

A New Hybrid Architecture for Consensus: AleoBFT

Over the course of Testnet 3, Aleo will be transitioning its consensus model to a hybrid architecture for provers and validators called AleoBFT. AleoBFT combines the instant finality of new blocks from validators with the computing power of provers to introduce coinbase supply into the network. The design of AleoBFT incentivizes validators to preserve liveness by producing blocks, and incentivizes provers to scale proving capacity for the Aleo ecosystem.

  • First, AleoBFT guarantees instant finality for each block.

Transactions are confirmed once validators produce and achieve consensus for each block. This approach resolves issues of shallow forking for validators and improves node stability. In addition, this creates a smooth application experience for developers on Aleo. And for users, this improves UI/UX by enabling fast confirmation in wallets, browsers, explorers and applications. Lastly, this guarantee makes interoperability with other ecosystems a much simpler proposition.

  • Second, AleoBFT ensures the network remains sufficiently decentralized.

By using AleoBFT, we are able to decouple the role of block production from coinbase generation. Validators are now in charge of producing blocks, and provers are now able to compute proofs at their desired scale. AleoBFT is designed to incentivize provers to become validators, by staking at least 1 million Aleo credits on the network. This guarantees provers can preserve their censorship-resistance by being a representative for all provers in consensus.

  • Third, AleoBFT incentives provers to scale proving capacity for the Aleo ecosystem over time.

In AleoBFT, provers solve and produce coinbase proofs (PoSW) on the network in exchange for a share of the coinbase reward in each block. With this new model, provers are now computing on the core subcomponents of zero-knowledge proofs — namely multi-scalar multiplications (MSMs) and fast-Fourier transforms (FFTs) — while earning their percentage share in proofs from each block reward.

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